Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Historic Photos - Paddling & Poling Quebec

Here is a 1926 photo of a French-Canadian guide in a canoe in the Laurentides region in the Province of Quebec, Canada. Great shot dismissing the common warning of never standing up in a canoe!

1926 Canoe Guide, Laurentides, Quebec
Year: 1926
Type: Original Photogravure
Expired Ebay Link

A closeup of the paddle reveals a very slender blade with a distinct spinal ridge. Seems to be somewhat consistent with the ideal paddle of Paul Provencher from the similar North Shore region of Quebec.

Paddle Closeup

October 25, 2015 Update: Found an older source for the above image dated to 1914. Click HERE for that post update.

From the same seller is a 1902 photo of a man poling up a tiny stream

Man Canoeing Canoe Stream
Photograph by William Lyman Underwood.
Year: 1902
Type: Original Halftone Print

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Oldest Bark Canoe on Display

An update on the previous post about the world's oldest "surviving" birchbark canoe estimated to be over 250 years old. It seems the canoe is now on display at the National Maritime Museum in England. While browsing through Flickr, I came across this pic below of the fractured canoe from the photostream of John Durrant

Photo courtesy of John Durrant

Thought it interesting that they've used a backdrop with an image of John Buxton's "The Agile Bark Canoe" to add a little ambience to the display. If everything pans out according to the published media reports, the canoe should be on its way to the Canadian Canoe Museum some time in the future where I'll be able to get a real look at it and perhaps post some more pics.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kirk Wipper Paddles On

The tight canoeing community here in Canada is saddened by the loss of one of this country's iconic characters - Kirk Wipper, who amongst other accomplishments in an amazing lifetime, collected hundreds of watercraft that eventually became the collection of the Canadian Canoe Museum. A touching tribute can be read on CCM's site, here.

I never met Kirk personally, but it was through his efforts that the Canoe Museum was founded and this where I learned the fun hobby of paddlemaking by taking a weekend course there back in '07. I recalled that while we were busy carving away on our shaving horses on the Saturday afternoon, Kirk swung by the museum and gazed down at us, the crowd of novice woodworkers. It was almost like a proud father watching his children learning a new skill. We all paused for a moment to listen to his words of encouragement and then he was off to tour the rest of collection with a friend.

The museum has really become of favourite place of mine and for someone who rarely likes to visit the same place twice, this says a lot about the beautiful collection they have on display. So from myself and any readers who appreciate this blog, I send a heartfelt thank you to the man who is responsible for preserving this vital part of Canadian culture.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Verner Illustration - Auction

Found another canoe related painting by Frederick A Verner (February 26, 1836 – May 16, 1928), this time on the Sotheby's Auction's archive.

Canoes with Indians on a Lake

Frederick Arthur Verner
Watercolour over pencil heightened with bodycolour
31 by 63cm., 12 by 24 3/4 in.
Signed lower right: Verner/1883
Estimate: 2,000—3,000 £
Sold: 5,040 £

Once again, Verner has illustrated the paddles with a distinct red chevron pattern, a common feature in his work.

Paddle Decoration Closeup

For other posts on Verner's work see this post from November 2009 and another post from September 2010.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sketches of Paddle from Around the World

This Italian website features sketches from the author interest in nautical themed art. Included is a page with some paddles from around the world. Included in his list is a small sketch of the Passamaquoddy and Malecite paddles featured in Adney's book.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Historic Illustrations - Henri Julien

Henri Julien (1852 – 1908) was a French Canadian artist and cartoonist and a leading figure in the field of illustrative art in Canada. His wide array of topics and sketches include a few fantastical images of voyageurs in canoes.

Henri Julien
The Ghost Canoe (1872 - 1908 )

The first is a version loosely translated to "Ghost Canoe" based on some traditional folk tails like the one below...
After a night of heavy drinking on New Year's Eve, a group of voyageurs working at a remote timber camp want to visit their sweethearts some 100 leagues away (300 miles). The only way to make such a long journey and be back in time for work the next morning is to run the chasse-galerie. Running the chasse-galerie means making a pact with the devil so that their canoe can fly through the air to their destination with great speed. However, the travellers must not mention God's name or touch the cross of any church steeple as they whisk by in the flying canoe. If either of these rules are broken during the voyage, then the devil will have their souls. To be safe, the men promise not to touch another drop of rum to keep their heads clear. The crew take their places in the canoe which then rises off the ground, and they start to paddle. Far below they see the frozen Gatineau River, many villages, shiny church steeples and then the lights of Montreal. The bewitched canoe eventually touches down near a house where New Year's Eve festivities are in full swing. No one wonders at the trappers'/loggers' sudden arrival. They are embraced with open arms and soon are dancing and celebrating as merrily as everyone else. Soon it is late and the men must leave if they are to get back to camp in time for work. As they fly through the moonless night, it becomes apparent that their navigator had been drinking as he steers the canoe on a dangerously unsteady course. While passing over Montreal they just miss running into a church steeple, and soon after the canoe end up stuck in a deep snowdrift. At this point the drunken navigator begins swearing and taking the Lord's name in vain. Terrified the devil will take their souls, the men bind and gag their friend and elect another to steer. The navigator soon breaks his bonds and begins swearing again. The crew become more and more shaken at the possibility of losing their souls, and they eventually steer the bewitched canoe right into a tall pine. The men spill out and are knocked unconscious (or pass out). Notably the ending of the story changes from version to version. Sometimes the men are condemned to fly the canoe through hell and appear in the sky every New Year's Eve, but in other versions all, or all but one, escape the terms the devil made.

Another image of this canoe legend is below, complete with Jolly Roger pirate flag in the bow and the horned devil as Gouvernail (steersman). Guess this is the canadian version of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Henri Julien
Illustration pour "Tom Caribou" c. 1886
pen and black ink over graphite on wove paper
National Gallery of Canada (no. 4508)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Celebrity Paddles: Marilyn Monroe

Don't know if the title of this post caused you to pause for a moment. Marilyn Monroe, sex symbol of the 20th century, a canoeist? Well, The Toronto Star had an article a while back entitled "Red, white and blonde" describing a current exhibit of the blonde bombshell at the McMichael Gallery (Running February 19 to May 15, 2011). The Star article has an untitled photo with a clear shot of Marilyn paddling the stern of a closed gunnel, cedar canvas canoe with the gorgeous Canadian Rockies in the Background

Marilyn in Canoe, 1953

This earlier thread from the WCHA forums has another pic of Marilyn posing with a Mountie. The conclusion was that these pics were taken in Banff as while she was filming River of No Return.

Marilyn with a Mountie, 1953

It also happens that this isn't the first time Marilyn was filmed paddlng. An obscure 1947 film called Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!, featured scenes of Marilyn and another hollywood hopeful paddling a canoe. The following stills were found on this Monroe Fan Site. If you're a fan of Marilyn and Wooden canoes, these photos are sheer joy...

October 2016 Update: For a colour version of Marilyn paddling in Banff, go to this post here.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Celebrity Paddles - Frederic Remington Photo

Came across an exciting new resource for canoe history junkies. The LA84 Foundation has all the archived issues of Outing magazine which features some fantastic reads (all in .PDF format)

Outing was a late-nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American magazine covering a variety of sporting activities. It began publication in 1882 as The Wheelman and had four title changes before ceasing publication in 1923. Since all of these US works were published before 1923, they are considered to be public domain according to US Copyright Law so over the next little while I'll be featuring some great articles and photos.

To start off, I found an article entitled, "Frederic Remington, the Man" by Edwin Wildman. It documents the personality of one of America's most well-known illustrators and outdoor artists. The article also includes a stunning photo of the artists by the shore holding his paddle and his birchbark canoe by the shallows.

With his bark canoe

Paddle Closeup

Some of Remington's paintings feature a bark canoe with a dramatic sheerline (online gallery here and here). It seems his real canoe served as the model for one of my favourite pieces of his, Coming to the Call (1905)

Coming to the Call
Frederic Remington
c. 1905

The Howl of the Weather, aka The Squall
1905/6, published 1907 in Collier's Weekly

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Images - c1839 Minnesota Voyageur Paddle

The Minnesota Historical Society posted new pictures of their circa 1839 paddle on their Collections Up Close blog. I had previously written about this paddle and posted some grainy photos I could find but these full colour and high resolution pics really bring out the gorgeous detail on this historic piece.

Here is the writeup:

The donor of this wooden canoe paddle stated that it was found near the current location of Stillwater, Minnesota around 1840. The paddle contains a long slim tapering blade, a concave indention at the base of the grip, and elaborate carving on the remainder of the flat grip. The carved design include a cross, a shield under a diamond and scroll band, and diamond shapes filled in with cross-hatching. There are also the carved initials "W. D.", which may not be original. It is purported to be a Voyageur paddle.

Posted according to their CC fair use policy

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