Monday, September 30, 2019

Ebay 77 inch Green Softwood Paddle

Another vintage Maine paddle recently found in a former lodge. Detail's provided by the eBay ad cite dimensions of 77-1/2" long with a 6-3/4" wide blade. Covered in faded green paint, the paddle has a crack at the neck which was strengthened by wrapping some old, cloth backed tape. The underlying grain pattern looks like it could have been carved from a softwood to reduce the weight of this hefty, long paddle. Thankfully, the seller has provided plenty of photos to show the paddle front as well as the grip sides.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Chesnut Keel Garden Decoration

Back when re-canvassing my 14 foot Chestnut canoe this spring, I made the conscious decision to not re-install the long shoe keel. Consulting with a few experts at the 2018 Wooden Canoe Assembly in Peterborough, the consensus was that with the relatively thick ribs and decent original planking job on the canoe, the hull would not need additional strengthening with the re-attachment of the keel. I don't like keels much anyway.

Many folks keep their removed keels in case the canoe is sold at a later date and the new buyer would like original parts. Don't think I'll be departing with my Playmate in the future, but decided to put the keel to use in the garden wall. The reverse side was sealed with some oil and then the keel mounted on to some lattice fencing. Nothing special, but our little garden corner with red lanterns and flags now has another symbol of Canadiana to enjoy

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

J.B. Charleson Ottawa River Paddle

A fascinating collection of Canadian folk art is up for auction.  Pridham's Auction House is running the Burney Collection of Canadiana and Americana on October 5, 2019. The private collection of Joan and Derek Burney was recently outlined as a project for Canada's 150th Anniversary back in 2017. The resulting book, Celebrating Canada: Decorating with History in a Contemporary Home, showcased their extensive collection of historically significant items adorning their modern home.

One of the pieces is a circa 1890 canoe paddle used on an exploratory trip by Jean-Baptiste Charleson. A forest ranger for the province of Quebec, Charleson was charged with scouting the headwaters of the Ottawa River for tracts of white pine to be leased to lumber companies. Charleson completed the trip at the hearty age of 54 with a route covering nearly 3200 square kilometers of wilderness. The trip was deemed a commercial success with his identification of accessible sources of timber valued at over whopping million dollars at the time. It would prove to be a financial windfall for the province.

After his journey, Charleson's personal 57 inch paddle was carefully painted with a map and details of the route. Lake Témiscamingue takes up most of the blade with the smaller up-river streams and lakes forming the serpentine shape up the shaft.

Circa 1890 paddle
57 inches long
Celebrating Canada, page 140
Closeup of blade decoration

Thursday, September 12, 2019

c1890 Tyendinaga Mohawk Canoe and Paddles

An expired Kijiji ad from earlier in the summer featured a birchbark canoe and two paddles being offered for sale. Seller claimed the canoe was from 1890 and built at the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, part of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte First Nation. I had inquired if the paddles were for sale separately and if any more details could be provided. The seller simply responded that they were sold with the boat unfortunately ignored my request for more details.

The advertisement photos show well aged paddles (likely maple) carved in a manner consistent with the Iroquoian tradition of a reverse-spatulate blade with tiny, flattened grips.

c1890 bark canoe and paddles

c1890 bark canoe and paddles

As a comparison, here are some known Iroquois (Mohawk) paddles in the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum:
ROM Paddles - Iroquois
late 19th - early 20th century
Area of Origin: Northeast; Ontario; Canada; North America; Six Nations of the Grand 

Another set of Iroquois paddles were posted on Here is a shot of decorated Iroquois paddles from LiveAuctioneer that I posted on before.

Pair of Painted Iroquois Canoe Paddles,
red and white painted blade, unpainted shaft; each 65.5" long. 
Ex Howard K. Echenstern Collection.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Quaver gripped antique paddle

Here's a very interesting paddle appearing in an Ebay Ad posted from Sainte-Martine, Quebec. This undated paddle has coat of faded red paint and a curve shouldered blade with notches at the neck.

58 1/4" long x 5 3/4"wide 

Most interesting is the grip end, which features an asymmetrical roll. The seller refers to the grip as having a "quaver" shape, referring to the shape of an 1/8th note in music. One side of it is rotten but red paint on the surface clearly shows this was the original shape and not simply a broken grip end.

These hook like asymm grips have been seen before in model canoe paddles sent over to Europe as part of the tourist trade. Most notably they are found in the paddles that accompanied the model canoe sent as a votive offering to the Cathedral de Chartres around 1760. See this post here.

Image Source Link:

The paddle grip is also discussed and illustrated briefly in Graham Warren's 100 Canoe Paddle Designs book.

by Graham Warren
March 2014. Raven Rock Books.
200 pages. A5. Spiral bound.
ISBN  0 9530352 2 0

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