Monday, February 27, 2012

Outdoor Adventure Show

I was able to swing by the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show on Sunday afternoon to catch the last 2 hours before closing. Greeting guests at the entrance was a beat-up looking, faux bark canoe to set the mood.

This canoe is actually an old cedar canvas with panels of birchbark stapled to the hull. Certainly not meant to be paddled but it was a romantic entrance to event. The thing was a total wreck but luckily there was much more canoe related stuff inside the show.

The good folks from the Canadian Canoe Museum had their booth stocked with volunteers carving away. One of my paddle making instructors from the Artisan workshops at the museum, Don Duncan, was there and we got to catchup and say hello again.

Badger Paddles was well represented again as was Bruce Smith who had a booth showing off his lovely creations. It was there that I got to see friend, Mike Ormsby from the Reflections On The Outdoors Naturally blog. Mike was scheduled to give a solo paddling demo in his 16ft Cedar Canvas. The demo pool at the show is quite small and its miniature size would make it a challenge for any paddler in a larger boat. Always a good humoured jokester, Mike put on quite a show after an accidental dunking. He even wrote all about his (mis)adventure on his site in this great post. I've certainly dunked in front of spectators before so kudos to Mike for taking it all in stride and being willing to laugh at oneself.

For me the highlight of the show was getting a chance to meet the folks of Northern Sound Canoes who make traditional birchbark style craft with plywood-based hull. I've written about such alternative bark canoes before on this site, including those Hans-George Wagner of Germany, Tomas of Poland, and blog reader Johan of Belgium

Northern Sound Exhibit

16 foot Algonquin Model

Another view

Beautiful Edge-to-Edge planking

These canoes were well received I'm told and have generated some interest. While they are based in the UK, the builders are planning a means of making them more available here in North America. Seeing these craft up close got me excited to attempt a build of my own - it certainly solves the problem of limited bark available to builders today...and being birch based plywood, should be a fantastic medium for pyrography decoration as well. I'm giddy with the potential excitement of another build but am not sure the family is that happy with yet another canoe plan in the works.


Lee said...

That birch ply is a FANTASTIC idea!

Johan said...

Hello Murat,
What a nice post you made here again. I like this in your Blog. As you know overhere in Belgium Birch Bark Canoe building still will be a dream for those who loves- this art. Yes almost none of the materials are available overhere. So as you already mentioned, besides myself, there are some other people overhere who go for some alternative choice. I think one can say Hans George Wagner from Germany was surely the first using this Birch plywood building method. I had already the oportunity to meet Hans George once at some great international Canoe happening in Germany.
As I was fond of his canoes he was so kind to let me paddle some canoe he made. Wonderful. Since then other canoe builders followed his example. I know of some different Polish people, another German builder as well and of course recently the guy's of Northern sound Canoes in the UK.
You must be a lucky guy to have seen their canoes. For I know it must be the same building method. The only thing that's different is the way they waterproof the birch plywood. On the contrary to Mr Wagner's method, who uses epoxy, resin, they only use some natural oils.
This interests me a lot, althouhg I have some problems to understand how to impringnate to waterproof a 100% a canoe using oils.
I hope you had the opportunity to ask more about this matter ...???
Personally intersted in traditional(alternative) canoe building I recently found some other documentarys on the net. Hopfully these are not already treated in your blog. As I regulary visit your Blog I do not know all off it.

Murat said...

Many thanks for your observations Johan! I did not know that Wagner's method involved an epoxy resin treatment on the exterior of the plywood - I thought it was just a varnish of some sort. I did ask the folks at Northern Sound about their hull treatment but they simply said it was oil based and then had to answer some questions of other people. I couldn't get an answer as to how many coats, effectiveness, etc. If I learn any more I will let you know. It will likely be next summer if I can start with my own version as right now there is the red cedar canvas canoe to work on.

Many thanks for your additional links although some of them got reduced and I could not get them to work. Could you maybe resend to my email ( I posted a few videos on an Innu build using pvc treated canvas - link is HERE and I've seen the Pein Penashue PDF file before but not the others you sent.

Johan said...

I am glad to see you discovered my mistake. Indeed Mr George Wagner uses varnish to finish his canoes and not epoxy resin as I mentioned.

For the internet links here are the full versions.
I downloaded instead of copy internetlink !!

The canoe in the next link looks very similar (identical) to the post you already treated in your Blog an Innu member , but obviously not the same person.

When I asked for information some years ago when Northern Sound came on the internet, they were very bussy at the moment. Never heard anything again. Things must be just as bussy at the moment as were then.

I remember still something as they were (and still are) ?? a familly bussiness cabinet makers
and some furniture design company. I remember something of steam presses ..??? but this is already some three years now.
Anything is found or heard about their canoe building method. So my guess I would not be surprised they do not at all build these canoes in some authentic Native way.
But nevertheless the result is there and yes Indeed there canoes are certainly pieces of art.
And yes I will do everything to see them live also.

Hopes this will help.

pacanoeman said...

Robert Griffing the artist - captures well the Birch Bark Canoe. My wife gave me a numbered print of his painting "The Bark Cutters"

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