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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

J.B. Charleson was my great-grandfather on my father's side. Thank you for sharing this. I would love to see the paddle some day.

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