Sunday, July 22, 2018

2018 WCHA Assembly Highlights

Just concluded a wonderful 4 days in wooden canoe heaven at this year's WCHA Annual Assembly in Peterborough, Ontario. Given the family obligations I needed to commute from home each day but the whole event was quite worth it. Due to our extremely dry summer, the normally lush grass turned into a field of dried yellow, but the canoes on "The Green" were nonetheless quite stunning.

The theme for the event this year was Chestnut Canoes and a wide variety of these classic Canadian icons were out on display on the lawn.  

Chestnut Chum complete with wanigan and Woods canvas pack

A Chestnut Bob's Special, and a few Prospectors

1930s Chestnut Bob's Special with beautiful heart shape decks

A new Canadian attendee to the assembly brought in a very old Chestnut cruiser that has been pretty well cared for. The owner installed a new centre thwart to carry it, but the seat and thwart placement is what was found in older boats. I overheard expert Dick Persson of Buckhorn Canoes assess it as a post-fire, late 1920's Chestnut.

My own little 14 foot Chestnut Playmate seemed crowded with the wanigan and homemade pack basket. On the lawn was a digital scale to help weigh the boats. My little Playmate clocked in at 68.8 lbs without all the gear! Visual evaluation by the experts revealed it has spruce inwales and oak outwales. It'll be needing new canvas and I learned some techniques as well as some creative ideas to get the weight down on this boat. 

My own 14ft Playmate loaded up

Couldn't speak to the owner of the following boat, but it had very interesting outwales with a feature I've never seen before. The ash outwale had a laminated layer of walnut on top giving it a two toned appearance.

walnut and ash outwale

Also fascinating was one of the project canoes on display. Turns out it is the same model as my own Chestnut...another 14foot Playmate being brought back from the dead!

14 foot Chestnut Playmate - "minor repairs needed"

In just a few short days, the hull was regaining its shape. Totally fascinating that an old reject like this could be made to float again.

Pretty boats aside, the real highlight was the chance to re-connect with old friends and make new ones. Craig Johnson and family made the lengthy trip from Ohio. He brought a 1930's Peterborough High End Champlain as well as some his lovely paddles. It was great to get a feel for them in person.

In fact, his wonderfully carved White Cedar paddle was a personal favourite at the show. Weighing in at around 1 pound, it felt like magic in the hands. Craig has apparently tripped with the paddle as evident by some healthy scratches on the surface 

1 pound white cedar paddle

Canoe builder Pam Wedd of Bearwood Canoes was there showcasing her marvelous skills with workshops and some of her boats, including another 14ft Cherish built on the same form as my build from 2008.

Very fortunate for attendees was that paddlemaking master Graham Warren of Moosehead Canoes was able to make the long trek over from the U.K. Graham educated the audience on various ancient paddlemaking techniques as well as his novel ideas with experimental paddle design. Also intriguing to me  was his demonstration of making a paddle by burning a board and scraping out a shape.

Professor John Runciman of Guelph University brought along a series of his own paddle replicas made by measuring various indigenous designs in museums across the continent. While mostly dealing with West Coast and Subarctic designs, there were a few East Coast designs including an etched paddle replica of an Abnaki/Penobscot paddle featured in one of the early posts of the site.

Catalog No: 50.1/ 9826
Locale: ME
Country: USA
Material: WOOD
Dimensions: L:171 W:16.5 H:3 (in CM)
Acquisition Year: 1916 [PURCHASE]

My own paddle display was up during the day time and the presentation on Historic Paddle Decoration hopefully added a different angle to the morning lectures. My older son accompanied me and was a wonderful assistant showcasing our 10 paddle replicas while I spoke. 

Many thanks to the Assembly coordinators and volunteers who made this event possible.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Preview of WHCA paddle display

I've been frequently mentioning the upcoming WCHA Assembly in Peterborough, Ontario taking place from July 17th to the 22nd. All of my paddle projects of late have been designs to form an outdoor display for this event. The display is now completed and will focus on  Historic Paddle Decoration to go along with my short presentation scheduled on July 21st.

For the display, I chose 10 examples of Woodland paddles previously discussed on this site which feature unique decorations as documented in historic artworks, manuscripts and museum collections. It needed to be portable for transportation so I started off with a metal sawhorse with collapsible legs. I have a set previously used to make a pair of elevated canoe cradles (post here).
Mastercraft folding metal sawhorse

A four foot piece of 1x10 pine was bolted on top and 10 little paddle stations were drilled out with a large spade bit. I also made a backing of sorts with some wood scraps on hand and painted the thing with excess black paint collecting dust in the basement supply.

Sturdy base with room for 10 paddles

Two, 2'x4' hardboard panels were used for the upper display and attach at the base with bolts and wing nuts for easy tightening. The boards were also painted black to serve as a backdrop. Images of various historic paintings were printed on thick cover paper, glued onto bits of scrap wood and then sealed with a slightly glossy varnish. These art panels were then attached to the hardboard with some industrial Velcro so they can be removed and reattached for transportation. Some of the art pieces were mounted on thick wood others on thin stock so they give the display a bit of a 3D feel. Hopefully, these will add some interesting context to the visitor.

Small panels of Historic Artworks

My two page article on the Schoolcraft paddle (Wooden Canoe - Issue 205, Vol. 41 No.1) has been put into a protective glass frame that can be removed and read for anyone who might be interested. Here is the final display all set up...

Completed display of 10 Historic Paddles

The 10 paddles selected for the display (left to right) are:
Codex canadensis paddle
circa 1750-1780 Algonquin Paddle
Davies' paddle from 1788
• 1820 Schoolcraft Paddle
McCord Museum Eastern Woodlands Replica
• circa 1850 CMC Eastern Woodland Paddle
• circa 1850 Mi'kmaq paddle from Anonymous
Krieghoff paddle from Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada
• 19th century "Delaware" paddle
Green Passamaquoddy paddle (Peabody Museum)

If any readers are planning to attend the Assembly, feel free to drop by to check out the display and say hi!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

C1849 Peabody Green Passamaquoddy Replica

Long time readers of the blog will recognize my affinity for a special paddle in the collection of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology.  Item Number  99-12-10/53655 is a Passamaquoddy paddle featuring a green blade and decorative double curves added in white paint.

Peabody Number: 99-12-10/53655
Canoe paddle, elaborately decorated. Blade painted green, double curve motif.
Dimensions: Length: 180.5 cm, Width: 17.6 cm, Dep: 3.3 cm
Donor: Heirs of David Kimball (1899) 

Discussions of this beautiful piece have been made in many posts over the years.  The lovely blade shape has been been the inspiration for many of my paddle creations, including the heirloom paddles for my two sons, my main  tripping paddle and a few others (posts here and here). 

Using an old piece of poplar stock, I decided to replicate the design again while trying to stay true to the original paddle's features. It was however scaled down to my preferred paddle length. The shaft was stained to mimic the aged wood in the museum photo and the blade painted with green Tremclad oil paint with the white decorative curves.

Given my clumsy nature with paints, the double curves ended up thicker than the original, but here is the final result...

c1849 Peabody Paddle Replica

This one will also be featured in the feature display for the WCHA assembly

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