Sunday, January 30, 2011

James D Julia Auction Paddles

Here's a collection of eclectic paddles from an expired 2006 auction at


Info on each paddle (listed top to bottom) are...

1) 63” curly and birdseye maple.

2) 60” paddle signed “W.A. Whitney Maker Milo, ME”.

3) 48” carved shaped paddle with chip carved and shaped handle.

4) 63” with Victorian motif with gold, red and green paint. Carved handle red and black paint.

5) 61-1/2” slender tapered paddle with T-end.

6) 61” carved tapered paddle with U-carved end.

PROVENANCE: From the John Delph Collection. CONDITION: Generally very good with nice old craquelure varnish finish.

The 4th paddle down with the painted "Victorian motif" sure looks stylish. Maybe one of those that was used with equally luxurious courting canoes at the turn of the century.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Making a Paddle from a Broken Oar

A great little visual article from Boys' Life April 1953 outlining how to make a paddle from a salvaged, broken oar.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Falstaff Beer Canoe Ad

Came across a funny little vintage ad featuring an attempted beer rescue - Falstaff bottled Beer..."Worth Going After."

Ebay Link

They don't seem to be the only canoe themed beer ads out there. Check out this hilarious aluminum "Bud Boat" and macho themed slogan...

Ebay Link

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

More Woodland Auction Paddles

Found 2 stunning antique paddles dated to circa 1860 from the Stair Galleries auction site (May 23, 2009 Past Auction catalogue). Both of these beautiful paddles dramatically exceeded their estimated price value so there seems to be a market of enthusiastic paddle collectors out there.

circa 1860
74 x 6 1/2 in.
Estimate : $500 - $700
Realized : $1,600
Traces of red and grey paint. Engraved and stained decoration of top of grip

Feb 2017 Update: This paddle has been relisted and sold. Additional photos of the paddle including alternate views of the grip design can be seen in this post here

Circa 1860
5 ft. 3 3/4 in.
Estimate : $700 - $900
Realized : $2,500
This paddle was collected in the St. John's River area of New Brunswick, Canada. Floral designs are incised on the top. 

The two pieces in question were featured in Pleasing the spirits : a catalogue of a collection of American Indian art by Ewing, Douglas C (1982) - plates 473 & 474. Luckily one copy of this out of print exhibit catalogue was available at the Toronto Reference Library where I went to find some extra information. The black and white pics included a closeup of the floral carving details etched on the grip of the 2nd paddle not featured on the auction images.

Basic Floral Etchings on grip

Really dig this unique stepped grip shape, quite different than others I've seen so far and I think this replica will be added to my ever growing "to-do" list of historic paddles.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Nook eReader

Picked up one of those fancy eReaders as a present to myself. After doing some research on the topic, I decided to go with a model that isn't available for retail sale here in Canada, the Barnes & Noble Nook. I was able to find a virtually unused version on Ebay and scored a deal. Didn't like that Amazon has a version called the Kindle that uses an exlcusive proprietary format so instead went for one that uses a more universal format called the EPUB.

There are so many free books online available on sites like, and that I've gotten back into reading some fantastic canoeing classics.

Below is a shot of one of the pages in Thomas Sedgwick Steele's 1880 paddling adventure, Canoe and camera: a two hundred mile tour through the Maine forests

This .epub format is just a different version of the HTML language that is used on websites, so basically material on the net can be downloaded and read on the device. With this great online tool called Instapaper, you can quickly save webpages into a condensed epub file and transfer it for hours of offline reading. Using this nice little application, I downloaded the fantastic 1948 article on the WCHA site entitled "Canoe from the Penobscot River". Here's another shot below showing the crisp black and white graphics.

So far the batteries lasted over a week before a quick recharge was needed. I'm planning on making a leather case for this thing and am seriously considering bringing this handy, lightweight eReader on future paddling trips (with some waterproof protection of course).

Friday, January 14, 2011

Innu Paddle Photo

Another historic paddle photo from the McCord Museum, this one exhibiting an Innu (Montagnais) family posing with slender, straight sided paddles. Clicking the image will send you to the McCord's site which has a zoom feature.

Innu group standing in front of a tent, QC, about 1881
Jules-Ernest Livernois
Silver salts on paper mounted on card - Gelatin silver process
Gift of Stanley G. Triggs
Source Link

Saturday, January 8, 2011

John Smith - Pride of Peterborough

Here's a sort of "Celebrity Paddle" photo that perhaps many people don't know about...

Ebay Link

The pic is a rare photo of John Smith (also known as "Boshkung Bill") who in 1934, hatched the idea of paddling his canoe from Peterborough, Ontario to Peterborough, England attempting to be the first to cross the mighty Atlantic in an open canoe.

His 16 foot boat, called the Pride of Peterborough, was loaded with gear & supplies (including fresh water) and rigged with a sail. You can just see his paddle in the corner of the photo. Looks like he attempted to get across the ocean with a toothpick!

Unfortunately, not every dream ends up successful. Somewhere off the Gaspé peninsula during his 400+ km leg to Newfoundland, a typical Atlantic storm hit. Smith's body, surf-bashed canoe and supplies washed up on various beaches along the shoreline.

For more info on Smith and his ill-fated journey, check out the The Fall 2009 edition of CanoeRoots Magazine which had a brief writeup on Smith's misadventure.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Maliseet Auction Paddle with Spears

From this posting, what appears to be a Maliseet style chip carved paddle with some fishing spears

Paddle is carved with geometric patterns; spears are forged metal tips on wooden shafts, (1) shaft is broken, paddle L-61"

Wish there was a better shot of the paddle, but it appears to have some carved drip rings right at the base of the grip along with some decorative incisings.

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