Tuesday, September 5, 2017

New Contender for World's Oldest Birchbark Canoe

Some interesting news out of Maine. The Pejebscot Historical Society in Brunswick carbon dated an old birchbark canoe in their collection. The results indicated that it was constructed sometime between  between 1729 and 1789. Museum records date the canoe to the mid-1700s.

19 Foot Wabanki Canoe
Image Source Credit: Pejepscot Historical Society


The nearly intact boat has spent the last three decades in a barn behind the museum, exposed to extreme temperatures and humidity. Despite this fact, it has remained in remarkable shape.

Pejepscot Historical Society/Larissa Vigue Picard via AP
Image Source Credit: CentralMaine.com

The two other canoes thought to be among the oldest were originally located in Europe (i.e. the 21 ft. Galway / "Grandfather" Canoe) found in Ireland and the Enys Canoe found at the Enys estate in Cornwall, England.

The museum has begun a fundraising campaign  in order to raise the $10 000 needed to restore the canoe and build an appropriate display. Work will be done by well known bark canoe builder, Steve Cayard.

One of the unique things about the Pejebscot Historical Society canoe is that it was built without any European technology at a time when metal fasteners and other innovations were being adopted by local Wabanaki builders. In addition, rather than use canvas cloth dipped in pitch on the stem pieces, the builder used tanned deerskin, something Cayard had never seen before in a surviving canoe. Thwarts were attached using an older method as well, basically by splitting the inwale and jaming in the tenon rather that using a chiseled mortise. More footage of the canoe and details of this exciting canoe news can be found in a video clip here.



1 comment:

David said...

I saw that, really cool!!

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