Monday, July 27, 2020

PEM: Model Canoe and paddles (1878)

Another model canoe in the collection of the Peabody Essex Museum is attributed to  Jo Polis, the famed Penobscot who guided Thoreau in 1857 journey in the Maine interior. The model is dated to 1878 and features decorative winter bark etchings and two paddles consistent with the Penobscot carving tradition.

Penobscot Artist
Model canoe, 1878
Wood, birchbark, plant fiber
Maine, Northeastern United States
L: 38 1/2 in, W: 7 5/8 in, D: 6 1/2 in (L: 97.8 cm, W: 19.4 cm, D: 16.5 cm)
Gift of Mr. Edward S. Moseley, 1979
Work attributed to Joe Polis (also known as Jo Polis)

This birchbark canoe was made for sale in Old Town, Maine in August, 1878, during the height of the summer season, when tourists bought souvenirs such as this en masse. The exterior of the canoe is decorated with lovely scrolling curve and floral motifs, while the bottom depicts a winter scene with a hunter, a moose, and a clumsy snowshoer.
The inscription on the bottom reads, "Akist 24, 1878, O. T. Me Moose". This can be understood to mean "August 24, 1878, Old Town, Maine, Moose."
This is a birch bark canoe model with two paddles and one fishing spear. There are five thwarts in the canoe, the center one is decoratively carved. The outer surface of the canoe is ornamented with double curve and floral motif designs etched on the bark. There is an etched narrative scene on the bottom of the canoe depicting two men, wearing snow shoes, hunting a moose. One of the men has comedically fallen over. The artist has etched his name in the bottom with the narrative scene. Likely made by Jo Polis, according to scholar Joan Lester.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Youtube - Traditional Innu Paddles

Found a youtube video featuring dated footage of Innu using some of their traditional canoe paddles. The video is in French but the great shots showcase the traditional use of their handmade canoes (made with verolite canvas instead of birchbark) being poled and paddled. Canoe footage starts around the 0.42 mark...

Monday, July 13, 2020

Historic Paddle Photo: Huron Regalia and Canoe Postcard

A recently sold postcard from Ebay showcases a Lorette-Huron native dressed in regalia and posing next to an overturned canoe.

The printed caption on the card reads, "QUEBEC - Indian Lorette-Huron and his birch bark Canoe", but the clean lines of the hull have no gore marks visible and the even surface makes it look like it is actually a cedar canvas hull. A handwritten note on the cover marks the date as September 1, 1912.

The paddle with its narrow blade and distinct ridge is a reflection of the paddle making tradition in the region.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Apologies to those who have submitted comments

Just wanted to send a quick note to apologise to folks who have kindly submitted comments to many of the posts. In order to avoid spam posts from robots, the settings on this blog require me to mediate and approve the message before it appears on the site. I used to get an email notification when a comment was submitted but that service seemed to have stopped and didn't realise that many loyal readers had taken time to comment. I'll be going through and doing my best to respond over the next little while.

Thank you for still reading!

Sunday, July 5, 2020

New Paddle Submission: Ville K

Blog reader, Ville K, has submitted another paddle creation. A few of Ville's paddles have been showcased before on the blog, all featuring an identical blade shape. The latest creation is also carved from European Aspen but features a thinner blade with a less prominent spine and more flex.

Surface treatment is a few layers of a homemade pine tar-boiled linseed oil-pine turpentine mixture that gives the pale wood a wonderful golden hue. Here is a photo of his three paddles for comparison...

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