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

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