Monday, January 27, 2020

AFN 2019 Meeting. St. Mary's First Nation

Here are some beautifully captured photos featuring birchbark canoes and Maliseet (Wolastoqey) paddles from the Opening Ceremony of the 2019 Assembly of First Nations Annual Assembly, held in Fredericton, New Brunswik. Full article and more at this link here. All photos credited to Logan Perley, a Wolastoqi journalist from Tobique First Nation

The first image below features National Chief Perry Bellegarde, New Brunswick regional Chief Roger Augustine and St. Mary's First Nation Chief Allan Polchies canoeing across the Wolastoq (St. John River). The classic, pointed willow-leaf blade design is visible in the bow.

Photo Credit: Logan Perley

The three Chiefs apparently started in St. Mary's First Nation (Sitansisk) at the old powwow grounds and paddled across the waterway to the grounds of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. This photo showcases the sleek lines of traditional Maliseet canoes.

Photo Credit: Logan Perley

The Chiefs were accompanied by the Brooks family who were involved with the repatriation of the Grandfather akwiten canoe, posted about earlier here and here.

Photo Credit: Logan Perley

Photo below features the brooks family taking part in a water ceremony. Prominently included is a beautifully carved set of paddles.

Photo Credit: Logan Perley

Monday, January 20, 2020

late 19th C Arthur Heming Voyageur Paddle Reproduction

Another paddle replica carved during the summer of 2019 was a basswood "Voyageur" paddle illustrated by famed Canadian artist, Arthur Heming (1870-1940). Heming travelled with voyageur brigades at the very end of the fur trade era documenting the times with a mix of both realistic and fanciful artworks. In this case a hardy voyageur  climbs up a steep slope with a tumpline loaded with a crate and large sacks of supplies. A narrow paddle with an oval bobble grip acts as a support stick.

The sketch appears in J.W. Tyrell's Across the sub-Artics of Canada (published 1898) and is available on Heming accompanied Tyrell on this trip and in this case sketched many realistic portraits of the crew and environment. It stands to reason that the accomplished artist drew this paddle design from a real sample in the field.

My version was made from a narrow basswood board and also worked down with an axe, crooked knife and spokeshave. Here is a shot in the final stages of carving...

Heming Voyageur replica

Back in the city, the paddle was sanded down and the blade decorated. I was tempted to simply lightly burn the blade to match the sepia tones of the illustration, but in the end decided to use a thick coat of milk paint to recreate the reddish tones often used by voyageur crews.

A small window was left unpainted on the reverse side with details of the paddle burned onto the blade face and the whole paddle oiled.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

mid-to-late 19th Century Adirondack Paddle with carved drip ring

A dated listing on showcases an antique Adirondack Guide paddle with a heavily cracked, but beautiful patina and a unique grip shape.

Adirondack Guide paddle
54 inches

The rounded grip handle cascades to an arrowhead motif atop a square shaped drip ring...

Grip Closeup

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Large Penobscot paddle with sun carving

From a dated listing on are some photos of an antique Penobscot paddle estimated to be circa 1900. The grain pattern is consistent with Ash. It is a very large design at 78" long with an 8" wide beavertail blade painted in a faded grayish paint and along with a classic Penobscot 5-stepped grip handle. Apparently found in an estate in Northern New Hampshire along the Androscroggin River.

Penobscot Paddle
78 inches long x 8" wide
Gray Paint on Blade

Grip Closeup

The upper grip face features a nail hole, likely used to suspend the paddle on the wall as decoration or as a method of hanging the freshly carved paddle to dry and eliminate warping of the green wood. The upper palm rest also features a circular chip-carved, sun motif .

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