Friday, January 29, 2016

U of Cambridge MAA West Coast Paddle

Readers of the blog will note my affinity for Eastern North American style canoe paddles. West coast paddles are certainly beautiful in their own right but don't really fit into my own personal style of solo woodland paddling. On occasion my amateur eyes see overlap between the paddle designs where these paddles could be used to effectively paddle a canoe here in the East rather than the ocean going Dugouts of the West Coast. One such example is the Etched Coast Salish paddle from UBC's Museum of Anthropology posted on back in 2013. It's slender blade and roll top grip could be easily used to paddle a cedar canvas canoe in the back-country.

Coast Salish:  Musqueam
Object Number: Nbz911
Image © UBC Museum of Anthropology
Photographed by Jessica Bushey

A similar style of paddle identified as being from the West Coast is found in the collection at the University of Cambridge Museum of Archeology and Anthropology over in the UK. Unfortunately, the museum's collections search doesn't seem to allow linking to a specific page, but here are some photos and details released under their Creative Commons license. It has a long slender grip and a willow leaf shaped blade with a simple, but pleasant bit of surface painting.

Canoe Paddle
MMA  Accession No.: E 1904.386/Record 1
Paddle with leaf-shaped blade with painted green and red lines
Source Date: ?- - 1904

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Canoe Model with Decorated Paddles: Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center

Google's  Cultural Institute site has large photos of the birchbark canoe model in the collection of The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. Dated to 1780-1820, the souvenir artwork piece features dolls, a sail and paddles along with some highly ornamented decorative paintings.

Canoe Model with Dolls - 1780 - 1820
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center

Here is the description on the page:

This model canoe with its accompanying dolls and accessories was the product of French Canadian nuns and Abenaki or Huron converts working together in a thriving cottage industry in Montreal and Quebec. Many of the items they made were sent back to Europe either as gifts to Catholic churches in France or to fill the curio cabinets of Europe’s elite.

Paddle Decoration Closeup

Similar souvenir based canoe models traced back to Quebec nuns and First Nation artisans are the model at the CMC, the Farquharson Model sold at auction in 2005, the Chartres Canoe Model and the Neuchatel model.  The decorations on the paddles all give a clue to the style of paddle art being made at the time.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Historic Paddle Illustration: Gabe Acquin - 1883

Karen Perly has prepared a well written biography (*.pdf format) of Gabe Acquin, a Maliseet (Wolastoqiyik) guide who was the first to permanently settle on land that would eventually become St. Mary's First Nation. It's a great read and is loaded with wonderful photos and details.

I've posted a famous photo of Gabe with a canoe paddle on the site before beginning with a 2008 listing on which had an original albumen photograph with the hand written caption "Indian Guide, c1870".

Lot 2478: Albumen Photo
American "Indian Guide", 1870
Original Listing

At the time, I was unaware who the guide was until blog reader Luc Poitras informed me of the guide's identity. Another black and white image of the same pose is found in the University of New Brunswick archives.

Gabe Acquin (St. Mary's), c. 1866
University of New Brunswick Archives

In 1860, the then 18-year-old Prince of Wales (future King Edward VII) visited Fredericton. After paddling by Government House in his birchbark canoe, Gabe was hailed by the prince who is intrigued by the canoe's construction. Gabe casually invited him for a ride and paddled the future king to the mouth of the Nashwaak River before returning. Many years later, Gabe was invited to England in 1883 as one of Canada’s entries in the International Fisheries Exhibition in London.

Subsequently a book was published, Fisheries of the World : an Illustrated and Descriptive Record of the International Fisheries Exhibition, 1883. A sketch was included with the caption "Indian in Birch Canoe, Fisheries Exhibition" and is quite likely an image of Gabe.

"Indian in Birch Canoe, Fisheries Exhibition "
 Whymper, F. Fisheries of the World : an Illustrated and Descriptive Record of the International Fisheries Exhibition.  London : Cassell : Co.: Limited, 1883.
 Page 96

The grainy closeup of the image shows quite a distinct Maliseet style paddle with elongated grip and carved ornamental drip ring...

Paddle Closeup

As a comparison, check out this post featuring  some Maliseet paddles dated to circa 1880 at the New Brunswick Museum.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Found on Moriarty's Neverslip Pick and Socket Paddle Spike

Here's a curious (and potentially dangerous) bit of paddle related gear from an advertisement in the 1907 edition of In the Maine Woods

Moriarty's Neverslip Pick and Socket was a sort of paddle tip protector with a sharpened metal point. A claim on the right side of the ad states, "Makes Paddle a reliable Setting Pole"

Pick & Tip Protector

Somehow I'm picturing a new comic book hero. A crime-fighting, canoe paddling eco-warrior ensuring people don't trash backcountry sites. I think this would be his/her weapon of choice.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Craig Johnson's Northwoods Double Paddle

Paddling friend, Craig Johnson has posted a very creative take on the Northwoods Paddle over on the WCHA forums. This thread shows his idea of clipping two flat-gripped paddles with a cam-lock system to convert the setup into a double bladed kayak paddle.

Craig's Sassafras Northwoods Paddles

Closeup of Deer Antler Cam Locks

Flat grips clipped together

Craig's Converted Northwoods Double Paddle

Lately, I've seen more and more canoeists using double blade setups for challenging upwind conditions. Craig's solution is a very aesthetic and functional solution to carrying a long, cumbersome double-blade in addition to the usual single blades.

Not resting on his laurels over the holidays, Craig also posted another paddle made while in Florida. This one is a lovely piece of Chestnut...

 Craig's Chesnut Northwoods Paddle

Craig also posted some selfies of his paddle alter-ego relaxing by the pool and getting a nice bronze tan.

Funny pics!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Paddle Portage Method: Popular Science - August 1946

Here's an interesting method for using paddles to portage a canoe. It appeared in Popular Science - August 1946, p 155 in a brief article entitled "Canoe Paddle Holders Ease Portaging".  The method involves permanently mounting rawhide straps through a rib with screws and washers. Additional leather straps with buckles are mounted to a forward thwart.

The illustration shows a canoe without a centre thwart or yoke. Not sure I'd trust a lightweight cedar rib with 8 screws to handle the strain of portaging, though. For similar setups of using paddles to assist with portaging, see this earlier post.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Historic Paddle Illustration: C. Krieghoff - higher resolution image

Over the years I've posted on the various canoe-themed artwork of Cornelius Krieghoff (1815 – 1872). A 2010 writup discussed the paddle decoration on a well known painting - Indian Encampment at Falls.

Indian Encampment at Falls
Date: post 1846
Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1989-508-1

Chevron Paddle Closeup

A relatively new online exhibit, Heritage Passages, features some more detailed full-sized images of historic Canadian artwork no longer in copyright. Among them is this same painting, albeit listed with a different title. Unfortunately, the high resolution image (3.2mb jpg) is in greyscale.

"Indian Bivouac at a Portage" a.k.a.
Indian Encampment at Falls.
Cornelius Krieghoff, Cornelius Krieghoff collection
Library and Archives Canada, accession number 1989-508-1, C-010693

Nonetheless, you can clearly make out the decorated paddle resting on the rolled pack cloth in the centre of the image, a further clue to the decorations on native paddles in this time period.

Paddle Closeup with rolled pack cloth

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Canoe Museum's 2016 Paddle Making Workshop Dates

2016 dates for the Canadian Canoe Museum's popular workshops are now online in a convenient calendar format. Their 2 day canoe paddle classes are on the following dates this year:

• Saturday - Sunday, March 5-6, 9:00am - 5:00pm

• Saturday - Sunday, September 24 -25, 9:00am - 5:00pm 

 • Saturday - Sunday, December 3-4, 9:00am - 5:00pm 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Maine's Hudson Museum collections now online

Been offline during the chaos that are the Christmas Holidays. Hope everyone had a good break and happy start to the New Year.

Recently found out that the The Hudson Museum at the University of Maine has a new online app that showcases some objects in their "Maine Indian Gallery". I had some issues with my web browser but still managed to get to some screen shots of some interesting paddle stuff.

Hudson Museum Gallery Portal - Click HERE to enter

I first heard of the Hudson Museum thanks to fellow blogger Bob Holtzman of the fantastic Indigenous Boats blog. He's been kind enough over the years to send relevant photos regarding bark canoe and woodland paddles for usage on this site. In particular, this post here discussed a wonderful looking paddle with a ridged grip that I tried to emulate. That paddle ended up regrettably snapping during the carving phase from poor stock selection.

Now that some of the items in the museums collection are online, there are some nice photos and accompanying information. First off here is the screenshot and closeup of their birchbark canoe dated to 1888.

A closeup of the exhibit. The paddle I was interested is the bottom one in the foreground...

Unfortunately after searching through their database, I couldn't find a specific entry just for that paddle. Too bad. Instead, however, the paddle immediately in front of the canoe has its own documentation slide...

A big surprise was discovering a Penobscot made paddle that readers might recognized from multiple postings on the site...

It looks to be identical to the antique paddle first described in the archives of as well as Skinner Auctions. Back on Sept 24, 2011, it sold for $2,370 although this one was described as a Penobscot Paddle, circa 1900 not 1950 as the Hudson museum slide states.

Overall side-by-side comparison
"Skinner Auction" paddle (left) vs Hudson Museum (right)

Furthermore, if you look at description and grip design, the Hudson paddle mentions the initials "HBW" carved into the base, whereas the Skinner Auction paddle is missing this description. The lighting in the photo captures is obviously different as well, but the Auction paddle shows some subtle carving damage around the flower motif in the centre of the grip.

Grip comparison
 "Skinner Auction" paddle (left) vs Hudson Museum (right)

Perhaps these are just different sides of the same paddle or one was a later replica of the other. I've sent a query to the museum and will wait to see what the response is.

Feb 23, 2016 UPDATE: Received a response from the Director of the Hudson Museum. The paddle in the Hudson collection was indeed obtained from Skinner auctions so it is the same piece. The confusion with the dating was due to human error when the info was imported into the app and is pending correction.

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