Sunday, September 30, 2018

Historic Paddle Photo: Grand Lake New Brunswick

From the Maliseet Album of  Native North American Indian - Old Photos...

Friday, September 21, 2018

c1860 St. John Maliseet Paddle Replica - Part 1

A long time in the making but finally got around to starting another vintage replica. This one was based on circa 1860 paddle collected in the St. John River area of New Brunswick. It appeared in the Stair Galleries auction site (May 23, 2009 Past Auction catalogue - Lot # 110).

Circa 1860
5 ft. 3 3/4 in.
Estimate : $700 - $900
Realized : $2,500
This paddle was collected in the St. John's River area of New Brunswick, Canada. Floral designs are incised on the top. 

The paddle was also featured in a long out of print exhibition catalogue - Pleasing the spirits : a catalogue of a collection of American Indian art by Ewing, Douglas C (1982) - plate 474. Luckily one copy of this out of print exhibit catalogue was available at the Toronto Reference Library where I went to find some extra information. The black and white pics included a closeup of the floral carving details etched on the grip of the not featured on the auction images.

Basic Floral Etchings on grip

The original was made from some beautiful Birdseye but I was only able to source out some plain soft maple. Still progress is being made. Here is the paddle with the blade and grip being worked on...

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Popular Woodworking Article (2004)

Here's a link to a PDF Format online article which appeared in Popular Woodworking August 2004. The eight page spread outlines how to make a canoe paddle from board of framing lumber.

Included among the many photos are illustration of the plans as well as a closeup of the grip carving. The author has sketched out an 25" long ottertail blade with a max with of 5-1/2".

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Historic Paddle Illustration: American Turf Register - 1832

A previous post discussed a lithograph print by Swiss artist Peter Rindisbacher (1806-1834) created during his journey to central Canada. Entitled Indians Gathering Wild Rice and Shooting Wild Fowl, a surviving copy is in the collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Indians Gathering Wild Rice and Shooting Wild Fowl, 1832
Peter Rindisbacher - Canadian (born in Switzerland), 1806–1834
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery
Acquired with funds from the Estate of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Naylor

The print was originally published on page 57 of American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine (Vol. IV, No. 2, October 1832) now available on

Indians Gathering Wild Rice and Shooting Wild Fowl, 1832
Peter Rindisbacher - Canadian (born in Switzerland), 1806–1834
American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine
(Vol. IV, No. 2, October 1832)
Source Link

Closeup of Stern paddle using a bobble grip

Along with the image is a brief article submitted by a reader providing additional details. The language used is typical of the time and may be considered offensive by today's readers, but it still provides interesting details ...  

Mr. Rindisbacher's drawing represents an Indian shooting only, but they frequently combine shooting, fishing and gathering the wild rice (abounding in all the lakes and many of the rivers,) in one occupation; that is to say, an Indian family goes forth in a canoe with gun  and fishing gig, and the implements for gathering the rice. The head of the family sits in the bow with his gun and gig, the old lady in the stern with the paddle, and two (or one as the case may be,) squaws near midships, with sticks, two each, shaped something like wooden swords, and having left the shore, or arrived at the scene of operations, the labors commence. The canoe is paddled slowly along through the wild rice, which the two girls, by means of the sticks in their outside hands, bend over the canoe and strike off the rice with the sticks in their other hands, all this as the canoe moves on; at the same time the Indian shoots what game he can, or rather chooses, so plenty are the geese, ducks and brants, continually rising and swimming before him. If he discovers the wake of a large fish, the squaws are directed to suspend their labors in collecting the rice, and the canoe very cautiously follows the direction of him at the bow until he strikes the fish or gives up the chase. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Historic Paddle Illustration: Digby Mi'kmaq Canoe Photo

The free online library at has a great book outlining the extensive history of the Native culture on the East Coast.  Twelve thousand years : American Indians in Maine by Bruce J.  Bourque is a thorough publication that features some photos beyond just the Maine border to include First Nations groups from Canada. Among one particular shot in the appendix section is photo A-18 featuring a Mi'kmaq group with canoe in front of a bark wigwam. 

The two standing gentlemen at the far right and far left are each holding up an inverted paddle clearly showing the shape of the blade.

April 2020 Update: The three men standing in the photo have been identified as (Left to Right): Malti Pictou, Jerry Lonecloud, John McEwan, all noted canoe guides. The image source is from the Nova Scotia Museum, photo by Harry Cochrane or Ralph N. Harris, NSM 97.31)

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Small Boats Monthly: Rollin Thurlow - Atkinson Traveler

A great online article by Donnie Mullen published on discusses the paddling features of Rollin Thurlow's famed design, the Atkinson Traveler. Included in the article is a photo of Rollin and his shop assistant Elisa Schine using some Maine style paddles with beautiful grips.

Courtesy: Small Boats Monthly
Photo Credit: Donnie Mullen

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