Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tomah Joseph inspired paddle

Before picking up my latest batch of wood stock, I had a single piece of 5/4 cherry left over. Grain wise, it was very suitable for a paddle but there were some conspicuous knots that would end up in the blade section. This piece of cherry sat for years before I decided to make another paddle from it. This one was inspired by a paddle that was on display at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine back in 2012 (post here).
Photo Credit Link - OurAcadia

The paddle seemed to have a darkened tip and flattened grip area. Turns out the paddle was the Tomah Joseph etched paddle  borrowed from the Passamaquoddy Cultural Heritage Center. Featured in an article from the  Portland Press Herald, the accompanying photo didn't provide a closeup of the grip, but provided a clear shot of the blade tip and beautiful etchings on the upper portion.

Descendants of famous Passamaquoddy chief Tomah Joseph, from left, Joan Dana, Natalie Dana and Cassandra Dana show off a paddle made by Joseph and on display at the Passamaquoddy Cultural Heritage Center & Museum in Indian Township.
Image Credit: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer
Portland Press Herald

Since the grip wasn't clearly shown, I carved what felt comfortable, a flattened grip with a distinct drip ring at the base. Unfortunately, this was another paddle where construction photos were lost on the defective memory card. After carving it down, I burned the grip area with the torch as well as the nearly half the blade. This worked out well because the dark scorching discretely covered the presence of knotholes in these sections. The remaining decoration was burned on the upper portion inspired by Tomah's Joseph's beautiful work so many generations ago.

Tomah Joseph Inspired Paddle

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Historic Photo: Hudson's Bay Cree Canoe Paddles

From the 1912 publication, A summer and winter on Hudson Bay by CK Leith comes a vintage photo of a Cree camp taken at Fort George on the East side of Hudson's Bay. The scene features an overturned canoe propped up with a broad bladed paddle. A bobble style grip is visible in the other paddle which appears quite long in relation to the person holding it.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Krieghoff Comparison: Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada 1848

Another replica I've been itching to do for quite some time is the brightly coloured paddle featured in the Cornelius Krieghoff piece, "Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada" dated to 1848. I first wrote about this paddle way back in 2010 when casually researching historic images. Since then I've read biographies about Krieghoff to learn a bit more about his inspiration and potential accuracy of his images.

The McCord Museum in Montreal has an original oil by Krieghoff dated to 1847 entitled " Aboriginal Camp in Lower Canada".  In it we see a canoe with highly bent ends, bark wigwams in the background and a group of people in the front. Seated on a log with his back to the viewer, a man is holding a paddle decorated with brightly coloured chevrons.  Unfortunately in this image there is no visible shaft, giving the paddle a bit of a distorted look.

Aboriginal Camp in Lower Canada
Cornelius Krieghoff (1815-1872)
1847, 19th century

The next year in 1848, Krieghoff created another piece based on this image with some minor modifications. The image was retitled, " Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada" and was used to create a lithograph for publication. Multiple copies of these lithographs were distributed around the world over the years and have often come up for auction. An example is the following image by William Reese Company.

Krieghoff, Cornelius:
[Montreal: R. & C. Chalmers, 1848]. Lithograph, 15 x 20 inches (visible portion).
 Item #WRCAM32676

In Krieghoff's updated version, the shaft and bobble shaped grip of the paddle are now in view, eliminating the missing distortion in the previous work. Krieghoff also decided to reverse the chevron pattern on the blade so that the decorations are now "pointing" up towards the grip rather than down towards the blade tip. In order to enhance the appearance of greyscale lithographs, many were subsequently coloured by other artists resulting is slightly different renditions of the paddle decoration.

The McCord Museum also has one of these painted lithograph prints. The coloured bands on the blade and shaft follow a Red - Yellow - Blue sequence from the tip upwards.

Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada
Cornelius Krieghoff (1815-1872)
About 1850, 19th century
Purchase from Kennedy Galleries
Source Link

Another version now in the National Gallery of Canada (uploaded to Wiki Commons) is a more brightly coloured version with the same decoration pattern.

Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada
Cornelius Krieghoff
Lithograph with watercolour on wove paper
National Gallery of Canada
Credit line: Gift of Donald Maclaren, Ottawa, 1990
Accession number: 30820

The Toronto Public Library Special Collections Archive also contains a version. This one has a more significant pattern change. The chevron pattern is Yellow - Red - Blue - Red - Yellow - Blue and the banded decoration on the shaft has been replaced with an all red.

Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada (1848)
Creator: Cornelius Krieghoff, 1815-1872
Contributors:Thomas Kammerer; Andreas Borum, 1799-1853
Identifier: 022kieghoff-inidan-wigwam
Format: Picture
Rights: Public domain
Gift of the Bain family - 2008.
Courtesy: Toronto Public Library

Canadian Auction House Waddington's had a print for sale back in 2016. This one has the Red - Yellow - Blue banded pattern on the shaft culminating in a red bobble grip. The blade has a curious pattern of Red - Yellow - Blue then a plain or natural looking band again followed by a  Yellow - Blue - Red.

Lot 59:  Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada (1848)
November 21, 2016
Toronto, ON, CA

The version on Artnet Auctions has a Yellow - Red - Blue pattern on the blade. The shaft however is decorated with the alternating pattern of thick yellow bands followed by thin red lines.

Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada (1848)
Artnet Auctions

A final version is in the collection of the Library and Archives of Canada. This one has a blade pattern of Yellow - Red - Blue repeating up the shaft.

Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada (1848)
Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1989-511-1
Copyright: Expired
MIKAN 2836651

March 2018 Update: My reproduction of this paddle has been completed. See HERE for that post.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Historic Paddle Photo: McCord Algonkian Bark canoe & paddles

Here's a circa 1870 photo of a hunter's camp in the collection of the McCord Museum...

Mealtime, Hunters' Shanty, Wild Lake, North of Chatham, QC, before 1865
Alexander Henderson (1831-1913)
Numéro D'accessionMP-1968.31.1.162
Gift of E. Dorothy Benson

Tricky to spot, but on the far right is a collection of paddles leaning against a brace. The photo captures the single blade shape as well as the grip profiles

Paddle Closeup

The particular flattened grip shape is similar to the paddles recorded in figure 102 of Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America.
Figure 102:  Têtes de Boule  paddle. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Historic Paddle Illustration: Krieghoff - Indian Family in the Forest

Here is another painting by Cornelius Krieghoff featuring a full view of a bobble-grip canoe paddle. This one is in the collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Art.

lndian Family in the Forest, 1851
Krieghoff, Cornelius 
Oil on canvas 
Mary Fry Dawson Bequest
44.7 x 66.6 cm

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Son's Spiderman paddle salvaged from a previous mistake

After carving the sassafras tripping paddle for my elder son this summer, little brother kept asking if he was getting a paddle too. This became an opportunity to salvage  a ruined paddle that had warped horribly during a decoration attempt to scorch the surface with a torch.

Warping of shaft after scorching surface

There was no way to completely eliminate the severe warping, but the paddle was reshaped into a functional design for an unwary three year old. As inspiration, I aimed to replicate the shape of a circa 1891 ceremonial paddle documented in the following Smithsonian photo.

Iroquois Tribe: Portrait of Viroqua's Oldest Brother, Jesse Martin, and his Great Niece
CULTURE: Iroquois Mohawk
DATE: prior to 1891
Photo Lot 24 SPC Ne Iroquois Mohawk NM 24145 00782400
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

The dual tone motif has also been seen in other historic photos featuring Iroquois paddlers, like in the the work of James Peachey.

Iroquois Decorated Paddles 
Closeup of Southeast view of Cataraqui (Kingston) on Lake Ontario
James Peachey
Library and Archives Canada

Luckily I still had some of the Regal Red rust paint used to refurbish the 14' Chesnut canoe. It isn't a true match to the faded ochre red in the painting but it would do. The plan was to copy this dual tone motif along with some some black paint.

First, the 58" full-sized paddle was cut down into a miniature-sized 38". The blade was reshaped into a smaller beavertail design and the shaft re-cut and shaved down to a thinner 3/4" diameter. Like the ceremonial paddle, it has a simple pole style grip which will work for him since he knows nothing of correction strokes just yet.

Dual Tone mini paddle

Of course this paddle wasn't really meant for me and my historical obsession. So as a treat for my little guy, I did my best to paint his current hero, Spiderman, on the other side of the blade.

Friendly, Neighborhood Spiderman Paddle

There's still a discernible warp near the neck of the blade, but  hopefully this will be be some incentive to get him out in the canoe next season.  

Monday, November 20, 2017

Historic Paddle Illustration: 18th Century - Sauvages de la nation des Micmacks

Here's an 18th Century watercolour painting by an unknown artist depicting a Mi'kmaq couple in their canoe.

 French School, 18th Century
Sauvages de la nation des Micmacks dans leur canot d’écorce de bouleau; au détroit de Canso, entre la Nlle Ecosse en l’isle du Cap-Breton
inscribed as titled in the lower margin
watercolour on paper
9 ¼ x 12 ¾in. (23.4 x 32.4cm.)

While both paddle blades are submerged in the artwork, the long shaft and tiny grips are visible, as is the reverse handed technique of the paddlers.

Closeup of bow paddler

Closeup of stern paddler

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Circa 1860 Maple "Delaware" Paddles

Browsing through a 1990's publication, Warman's Native American CollectiblesI came across a small listing for a pair of canoe paddles dated to the 1860's.

Made from maple, the paddles feature a wide tipped blade with long, sloping shoulders and a curious grip with 3 drilled holes.  The blade decoration on both paddles feature a blackish and brown-red dual motif (similar to the PEM Anishinabe Souvenir Paddle) and a series of dots rising up to the throat.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Historic Paddle Illustration: Undated Verner with Chevrons

Here's a black and white image of an untitled and undated painting by Frederick Verner ( 1836 – 1928).  In the foreground is a decorated paddle resting on an overturned bark canoe.

Untitled Work
Frederick A. Verner  ( 1836 – 1928).  

The paddle features splashes of decorative paint on the blade leading up to the throat. Also just visible on the pear shaped grip is a tiny triangular motif...

Paddle Closeup

Although unrelated,  2015 auction item, the circa 1900 Folk Decorated Canoe Paddle  also has a triangular motif carved into the pear shaped handle

See Full Post here

Verner's whole scene is basically another subtle version of another titled work - Ojibway Indian Encampment (1873) described in this earlier post from 2009. That oil version, however, shows a paddle with a red painted tip.

Ojibway Indian Encampment
by Frederick Arthur Verner, 1873
Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Guelph, Ontario
Object number: MS2004.066

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Two-piece wood canoe pole

Another side project this season was to construct a two piece, wooden canoe pole. My hope with this piece of gear was to have a functional pole that could breakdown for transport and be used in camp for a tarp shelter or with the baker tent.

Inspired by RavenJester's detailed tutorial, "Building aTwo-piece Home Depot Canoe Pole", I set about doing some research for the all important ferrule to connect the pieces. RavenJester's writeup mentioned a stainless steel one but I couldn't source one with decent shipping.

Instead, I ended up going a bit more high tech and order a carbon fibre ferrule meant for the thicker shaft of Greenland style kayak paddles. With a 35.81mm inner diameter and 38.6mm outer diameter, it would work nicely with the roughly 1.5" intended diameter of the spruce / fir poles.

Took some time to sort through the pile of lumber, but in the end scored a real nice piece of 2x10x8 at the local Home Depot . The board had very straight grain lines along one side with the added bonus of being knot-free in that section. I ripped two 1.5" strips and then worked the pieces round a crooked knife. This was much earlier in the season when the lawn was in good shape...

Once worked down and lightly sanded, the two pieces of the ferrule were epoxied into place. As a test, I stood on the porch steps and leaned on the pole as if pushing upstream in a hard current. The connection felt pretty solid and the poles flexed pretty evenly. In the end, I messed up a bit of the calculations so that one piece is a few inches taller than the other. I had forgotten to factor in the lag bolt at the foot.

The wood has yet to be treated. I'm thinking of painting some has marks on the bottom portion every foot or so to be able to gauge the depth of the stream while poling.

This pole is actually longer than my 11 foot one-piece made back in 2010. It's a tad over 12 feet. For the shoe I salvaged a piece of copper pipe I found in a box a scrap metal left out by a neighbour on garbage day. It has an outer diameter of  1-3/8" so I didn't have to shave the bottom of the pole too much. A large washer, lag screw and some bolts and the homemade foot is good to go.

Copper and lag bolt shoe

Hoping a spring poling trip will be in the cards...

Monday, November 6, 2017

1794 Mi'kmaq Canoe Model & Paddle - Musee Beaux Arts - Rennes

Found an image update of the the Mi'kmaq canoe model with decorated paddle at the Museum of Fine Arts - Rennes (original post here).

Modèle de canot avec rame
Inv 794.1.782
Museum of Fine Arts     RENNES

As mentioned earlier, the model was assumed to be collected by Christophe-Paul de Robien (1698-1756), a French ethnographer and historian. After the French Revolution, his personal collection inherited by his descendants was seized by the State and distributed to what became the Museum of Fine Arts of Rennes. During that inventory process, it was inscribed with a date of 1794 but the original construction date is likely earlier.

Accompanying the canoe is a single paddle with a pole grip and a decorated blade. Although faded, it appears that half the blade was painted with a red pigment creating a simple "yin/yang" effect.

Robien's curiosity collection is on exhibition at the Museum. A virtual tour and description (in French) can be read on this blog post here. Tucked on a bottom shelf is the canoe model with the dual toned, pole grip paddle displayed on top.

photo credit: Camille Janin

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Historic Paddle Photo: Standing Guide with Paddle

Here's a vintage photo from this Ebay Ad featuring a Guide standing up in the stern of his wood canvas canoe while a passenger takes a seat in the bow.

A closeup revelas the Guide's long paddle resting on the dock to stabilize the canoe. The stern seat is mounted far to the rear and high up along the gunnels.

 Paddle Closeup

Monday, October 30, 2017

Circa 1850 Eastern Woodland Paddle Replica

I've started a batch of replicas based on some historic paddles in various museums and artworks. One intriguing paddle is  Artifact Number III-X-320  in the collection of the Canadian Museum of History (formerly the Candian Museum of Civilization). Described loosely as affiliated with the "Eastern Woodlands" culture, it features a two-toned painted decoration on the blade.  This dual tone motif has caught my attention recently and appears in some historic artworks by James Peachey.

Artifact Number: III-X-320
Inscription: incised on one side of blade "A. HATT"
Begin Date 1845/01/01
End Date 1855/12/31
Measurements Length 125.0 cm, Width 9.0 cm, Depth 2.7 cm

Cultural Affiliation: Eastern Woodlands

Closeup of Dual tone paddle
 "A View of the Ruins of the Fort at Cataraqui taken in June 1783 by James Peachey" 
 Credits:  Library and Archives Canada C-2031
Full post here

Normally, I like to adjust the paddle dimensions if the paddle is not my preferred functional length of 58", but this time, a decision was made to replicate the design in its original size. This one would be a relatively short 49" long.

My version was made out of basswood, a light-coloured and easy carving wood.  Unfortunately, after taking multiple photos of this paddle (and others) during the carving stages earlier this summer, the memory card was damaged and is now unreadable. All those images can't seemed to be recovered. Dah!

At any rate, after the paddle had been carved, some MinWax Gel Stain  was used to darken the paddle shaft and give it an aged look, something that might be done on future paddles as well. For the paint, I ended up using Tremclad oil-based rust paint which offers nice opaque coverage on the wood as well as being waterproof. The whole thing was finished with multiple coats of protective oil.

Ca 1850 "Eastern Woodlands" replica

The small bulb of a grip is just barely wider than the shaft and is most comfortable when holding the paddle laterally rather than a typical grip across the top. The weather has turned chilly and windy so testing this one out will likely need to wait until spring.

Side by Side comparison

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Mid 1990s Northwoods Paddles (Alexandra Conover)

From this Ebay Seller comes a pair of Northwoods paddles carved by Alexandra Conover.

Stern ( 66 1/4" ) & Bow ( 60 1/4" ) Northwoods Paddles
Source Link: Ebay Ad

Both paddles are hand signed with the inscription  "Northwoods Paddle Alexandra S.B. Conover 4/94". The shorter bow paddle is numbered 301 and the taller stern paddle numbered 302.

Monday, October 23, 2017

History Museum Mi'kmaq Canoe Display with Paddles

Mi'kmaw Canoe Builder Todd Labrador was commissioned to build a new 18.5 foot Ocean- Going birchbark canoe for the Canadian Museum of History (formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilizations). Photo documentation of the build as well as additional information can be read in this article here.

Haven't seen the museum display myself, but found a pic online which showcases the curious lines and construction style of these ancient craft. Hanging behind the canoe are two paddles which I was able to source back to the history museum's collection.

The top paddle (Object Code III-F-364) was made in 1992 by Mi'kmaw craftsman Rene Martin. The other weathered paddle below looks to be Object Code III-J-206, an Abenaki paddle with an unknown date (but prior to 1973).

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Chicago Field Museum: Odawa and Naskapi (Innu) Paddle Display

Searching through their collections of  the Chicago Field Museum (formerly the Field Museum of Natural History)  revealed some paddles that have been part of their previous displays. Among them is a model associated with the Odawa (Ottawa) tribe acquired in Ontario for display in the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893.

Here is a cropped pic of the paddle which features a straight sided blade shape and a small elongated grip. The blade end has been decorated with paint while the upper portion features geometric etchings not unlike the Odawa paddle at the Logan Museum of Anthropology.

Canoe Paddle
Catalog Number: 15388 
Cultural Attribution: Ottawa 
Locality: North America, Canada, Ontario, Queen Sound
Accession Number: [47] E. N. Brown (Gift)
Country: Canada 
Province/State: Ontario
District/County: Queen Sound
Collector/Source: E. N. Brown, World's Columbian Exposition - Department of Ethnology
IRN: 1056314

Also in the display is a model of a Naskapi (Innu) paddle...

Canoe Paddle
Catalog Number: 177305 
Description: paddle
Cultural Attribution: Montagnais-Naskapi
Locality: North America, Canada, Quebec, Labrador, Davis Inlet Band
Accession Year: 1928 
Collector/Source: Rawson-MacMillan Subarctic Expedition for Field Museum, W. D. Strong 
IRN: 1080712

This previous post discussed the paddle forms documented by William D. Strong during his research of the Naskapi Cree (Innu) culture in 1927-1928. James VanStone's publication, Material culture of the Davis Inlet and Barren Ground Naskapi: The William Duncan Strong Collection outlines many of the ethnographic items collected during this expedition. Unfortunately when it came to full sized paddles, no photos were taken but instead, Plate 49 (pg 89) featured a hand sketched diagram of 4 decorated pieces acquired for the collection. The model looks to be similar to Paddle A from the display.

Material culture of the Davis Inlet and Barren Ground Naskapi 

The coloured lines and markings were made with an orange / red or blue pigment, similar to other model Innu paddles in other collections (see post here). As to the meaning or significance of the motifs, page 38 has a brief writeup outlining his conclusions:

"Strong's informants, on the other hand, denied  any design symbolism or any relationship of the decorative motifs on their clothing and other objects to dream experiences. Rather, such designs as occur on moccasins, clothing borders, head-bands, and cartridge cases were purely decorative. Strong noted that design symbolism was not denied categorically but, nevertheless, in detail and with certainty. While believing it possible that people no longer remembered the meaning and significance of such symbols, he also was aware that in general his informants were evasive concerning most matters relating to religion. For example, he was certain that although the red and blue designs on men's snowshoes served primarily as identification marks, they also had magical significance. Informants confirmed that the markings brought good luck in traveling and hunting, but the ethnographer could obtain no interpretation for the meaning of particular designs"

Monday, October 16, 2017

Historic Paddle Photo: Fossil Rock - Dalhousie, New Brunswick

From the 1920 publication,  New Brunswick, Canada, available on is this image of a Mi'kmaq bark canoe taken at Fossil Rock, Dalhousie New Brunswick.

 Paddle Closeup

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Historical Paddle Illustration: Peachey - Ruins at Fort Frontenac 1783

Here is another vista painting by British Officer James Peachey (active 1773-1797). This one  entitled, "A View of the Ruins of the Fort at Cataraqui taken in June 1783"

"A View of the Ruins of the Fort at Cataraqui taken in June 1783 by James Peachey" 
 Credits:  Library and Archives Canada C-2031

The canoe in the bottom right features a decorated, dual tone paddle not unlike the paddles in another of Peachey's work from the same area, "Southeast view of Cataraqui on Lake Ontario, 1785" (see link to that post here). Unfortunately the colour version doesn't seem to be available in higher resolution but a black and white version of the scene with a better closeup is below:

Dual Tone Paddle Closeup

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