Tuesday, September 23, 2014

HBC Scarlet Paddle

A previous post describes the dimensions of Voyageur Paddles typically used by canoemen of the Hudson's Bay Company. It appeared in an article in the HBC's company journal, The Beaver. The September 1922 edition features a fur trade canoe with narrow paddles and an improvised sail from a scarlet red HBC point blanket.

Improvised sail with HBC point blanket

The 2nd episode of the marvelous documentary, Northern Wilderness by Ray Mears features a scene with typical trade goods laid out upon a similar point blanket. That vivid scarlet colour really stands out against the wilderness setting. Here's a screenshot from that Youtube clip

To capitalize on that nostalgia, HBC is now showcasing some paddles decorated with their iconic scarlet blanket theme.

HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY Scarlet 60 inch Paddle

This isn't the only HBC canoe gear that the company is marketing. This post from 2012 mentions how the company commissioned Langford Canoe to make some cedar canvas boats with their equally iconic multi-stripe pattern. Apart from the pretty decoration, these actual paddles don't interest me much. 

However, one mystery "HBC paddle" that I'm still trying to source out, is this one from New Brunswick which was etched with the initials HBC (see full post here). 

Mystery Malecite Paddle 

HBC carved into the grip

If anyone recognizes it or has more details, feel free to contact me...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

River Grace's Kennebec & Northwoods Paddle

The current August edition of the Wooden Canoe Journal has a stunning cover photo of a young Teen paddling a beautiful little canoe. Turns out the main article features 15 year old River Grace of Florida and his restoration job on a 12 foot Kennebec canoe dated to 1926. It is a lovely story of his patient restoration efforts which took over 4 years to complete. Unfortunately, no details were provided about the beautiful looking Northwoods paddle with a distinctive scalloped grip.  For anyone interested, there's a brief online article in Florida Today about this young lad and his canoe story.

River Grace navigates the St. Johns River.
(Photo: Dr. Michael Grace/for FLORIDA TODAY)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bill Curtsinger - Northwoods Canoe & Paddle

Here's a photographic print featured on FineArtAmerica by Bill Curtsinger entitled The Bow And Oar Of A Handmade Wooden Canoe. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Historical Paddle Art: Robert Griffing's "The Paddle Painter"

Artist Robert Griffing is well known for his historical art depicting Eastern Woodland peoples and the 18th Century Eastern frontier. Many of his paintings feature bark canoes and decorated paddles. One of his new releases is entitled, "The Paddle Painter" and features a calming scene of a how a paddle might have been decorated with natural pigments in years gone by...

"The Paddle Painter"
©Robert Griffing

The snake like pattern on the blade along with the red wavy borders is a common theme I've seen in some of his other artworks. Most notably in another stunning piece called "Into the Unknown"

"Into the Unknown" by Robert Griffing - ©Robert Griffing

The pattern may be based on some model paddles dated to 1740-1750 and documented in Timothy Kent's marvelous publication, Birchbark Canoes of the Fur Trade (ISBN: 0-9657230-0-3 ). Figure 86 illustrates some decorated paddles that were made in New France to accompany a souvenir canoe model. The third paddle from the left features this serpentine patten with the scalloped border.

 Figure 86. Paddles fashioned ca. 1740s-1750s in New France to accompany a Type A-1 voyaging canoe model and figurines. Original Link 

Not sure of the significance, but the snake-like pattern is one featured in another form of Woodland Art - native pictographs. One of the most famous is the Panel VIII pictograph on Agawa Rock in Lake Superior Provincial Park. It features a representation of a canoe with the Great Lynx Mishibizhiw who controlled Lake Superior. Below are two giant underwater serpents called Mishi-ginebikoog in the Ojibwe language. 

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