Saturday, November 16, 2019

Royal Trust circa 1860 Mi'kmaq Paddle Reproduction

The British Royal Family has recently consolidated all of their acquired artworks and historic gifts into a new collection called the Royal Collection Trust. Included in this monumental global collection of artefacts are First Nations items gifted to various royal members during their visits to Canada.

A fascinating set is a Mi'kmaq sourvenir bark canoe that came with two dolls, two pair of paddles, a fishing spear and miniature basket. The set was presented then 18 year old Prince Albert Edward (the future King Edward VII) during his first visit to Canada in the summer of 1860.

Mi'kmaq Model canoe and dolls  1860
RCIN 84332
Royal Collection Trust
© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

The paddle set showcases two similar designs which look like two larger stern paddles and two smaller paddles with pole grips used by the bow paddler. Both feature a pointed spear-like tip

Mi'kmaq model paddles 1860
RCIN 84332
Royal Collection Trust
© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

While the model canoe is obviously not a true replica, being decorated with dyed porcupine quills and lacking an accurate number of ribs, the paddles do match some existing artworks from the era.

Paddle Detail from Wigwams at Pointe de Levy, Lower Canada
ca. 1836
Artist:  Whitmore, George St. Vincent, 1798-1851.
Credit: W.H. Coverdale Collection of Canadiana

I decided to reproduce the larger stern paddles with the flattened grip section adjusting to my preferred paddle length and scaling the grip width down to more realistic dimensions. The spear tipped blade is very quiet in the water compared to wider blade tips creating much less splash during each paddle stroke. As the originals were left un-decorated, I simply burned the paddle details into the face of the blade.

1 comment:

zak said...

there is a birchbark canoe in a museum storage facility in England. the canoe is from ~1890. stored just under it is a canoe from Hawaii. in the Hawaiian canoe are 2 paddles that do not look like Hawaiian paddles. I believe they are Mi'kmaq paddles and belong to the Birchbark canoe. I have some pictures if you might confirm. my email is

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