Friday, January 13, 2017

Historic Paddle Illustration: Claude Le Beau - 1739

Blog reader F Wade recently provided a link to an historic illustration (dated to 1739) being auctioned off by Christies Auction House.

The image originates from a book by Swiss author Claude le Beau who documented some of the life and customs of Native tribes of New France during his time in Quebec. A digital copy of his full text entitled  Aventures du Sr. C. Le Beau, avocat en parlement; ou  Voyage curieux et nouveau parmi les sauvages de l'Amérique septentrionale is available on

Pages 94-96 contain his description of a birchbark canoe as well as the paddles which were recreated in this image with obvious European bias.

Paddle Image Closeup

Le Beau's translated description of the paddles is as follows:
"The paddles  are very light, although made of  maple wood which is rather hard. They are scarcely four feet long, the blade takes up one and one-half feet and is five or six inches wide"

As a side note, Christies auction page has a short bio on Le Beau who seemed to be quite the trouble maker...
"...Swiss traveller Claude Le Beau, a rough character who, in 1729, left Paris for La Rochelle in a convoy of prisoners expected to remain in Canada for the rest of their lives. However, after working as a clerk in the Beaver Office, Quebec, he stole some gunpowder and set off for New England. There his activities as a counterfeiter brought him close to a hanging, and he fled to Holland in 1731. Even if only partly factual, his book describes the life and customs of the Iroquois, Hurons, Algonquins, and other tribes, and contributes importantly to the literary history of New France." 

1 comment:

f wade said...

I'm glad you found it useful.

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