Sunday, December 30, 2012

Painted Camp Paddle

Another decorative piece from One Kings Lane featuring a 1940s canoe paddle with red painted border around blade.

Ash Decorative Paddle
1''L x 6.5''W x 63''H

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Historic Photo: Ojibwe Paddling Method

Found another photo representative of a traditional native paddling method with the grip hand positioned differently below the grip in the "Northwoods" style. This one is of Ojibwe Chief Busticogan in a bark canoe on the Big Fork River (MN) but it resembles some of the photos here as well as in some additional photos from an earlier post on Indigenous paddling techniques.

Interesting that the solo paddler is positioned in the centre of the boat. Most pics I've seen from this era feature a solitary paddle in the stern with the bow weighed down with gear. But with a relatively empty canoe (note how high it is floating on the water) and the position of the paddler kneeling low in the hull, this gripping style seems like it would be the most relaxed and comfortable for long distance paddling.  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Miniature Slotted Grip Paddle

Another interesting Ebay Listing featuring a 16 1/2 inch model paddle. The grip area looks interesting with its slotted interior. Might be an interesting one to replicate at full scale...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

70 Inch Maine Guide Paddle

Another Ebay listing of an antique paddle, this one a 70" paddle from Maine with a small Northwoods style grip and some blade damage...

Seller Info:
Beautiful, 70-3/4" antique canoe paddle that was found in Maine.The original owners initials are carved into the paddle, RLK.

 Initialized Blade Shoulder & Split on Reverse Side

Monday, December 17, 2012

Katie Ohlke's Tom Thomson Paddle Art

Katie Ohlke of Stone Ridge Art Studio  has created some wonderful paddle art reflective of the historical impact of Tom Thomson in Canadian Art. Below are some pics of her paddle creations. The first is an evocative piece that carries some of the mysterious symbolism of Thomson's death on Canoe Lake in 1917. Thomson's facial profile is carved into the blade and the base of the grip is wrapped 17 times with copper wire.

 The Backstory: When his overturned canoe was found floating on the lake, one of the two paddles he carried was lashed to the thwarts for portaging...the other paddle was missing and never found despite a thorough search for weeks after. Wood paddles float so finding it shouldn't have been much a challenge according to search parties. When Thomson's body was discovered some distance away, a large wound was found on the side of his head while his left ankle reportedly had 17 wraps of fishing line tied in a very deliberate fashion. All this created the suspicion of the paddle used as a murder weapon thereby adding to the mystery.

K Ohlke's Thomson Inspired Paddle

Closeup of the copper wrapping

Thomson was famous for capturing scenes of the Canadian landscape, especially rugged depictions of coniferous trees, like pines. Katie's other paddle showcases these majestic trees with the crown of the tree carved from the blade. There's just enough bend in the shaft to evoke the natural growth of shoreline trees and give an otherwise static paddle the illusion of life...

K. Ohlke's Pine Paddle

In addition to these paddles, Katie has done some marvelous painting inspired by historic photos. This photo, one of the few showing any details of Thomson's personal canoe (assumed to be a Chestnut Cruiser dating from before the 1921 Chestnut Factory fire ), is one of my personal favourites. Here's Thomson setting off for a journey into the bush....

Here is Katie's wonderful modern day interpretation entitled Day Trip from Artists Camp...

For more info on these and other works by Katie Ohlke, check out Stone Ridge Art Studio and her Facebook page

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Steve Kovach Native Inspired Paddles

From a now expired Ebay listing showcasing a hand-carved Tiger Maple paddle...

The seller's listing info...
"This is a one of a kind Hand Carved Algonquin style CANOE PADDLE. I made this using traditional hand tools from a single piece of beautiful figured tiger maple (rock maple). This paddle has stunning sculptural form and brilliant almost iridescent wood grain pattern. This paddle is based on examples of traditional Abanaki, Passamoquoddy, Maliceet paddles (the same native Americans who built the spectacular and technologically advanced birch bark canoes). I have always admired the amazing and beautiful sculptural form in the original native American paddles made from various American hardwoods including Birdseye and tiger maple, Cherry, ash. Many were decorated with incised designs, I prefer the pure shape and highly figured wood.... 
This paddle offered in this auction is 67-3/4"" long, blade is 7-1/4" wide (as thin as 3/16"in places) shaft is 1- 1/4" thick at widest point and weighs approx 2- 1/2 pounds. Signed "SK" (Steve Kovach) with my personal brand on end of grip."

Included in the array of photos was an additional set of some of the other paddles made by the same seller. Nice collection with some lovely grain patterns...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Craig Johnson's Northwoods Paddle

A recent story (Oct 31, 2012) appeared online at entitled Canoe heirloom brings together three generations. It features paddling friend Craig Johnson who I had the pleasure of meeting back at the Killbear Rendezvous back in 2011. Craig is a fantastic woodworker and has a growing collection of wood canvas canoes. Apart from some of his glorious looking paddles, Craig recently restored his father's Old Town Canoe and took it with his daughter on fantastic backcountry journey through Quetico Provincial Park this summer. Very touching that this cherished heirloom has new life and is being used appropriately!

Included in the online article are some pics of Craig's work including a beautiful Northwoods paddle in action.

 Craig  paddling... 

Craig's Wood Canvas Fleet

Friday, December 7, 2012

Manly Way to Portage a Canoe

Came across this great pic featuring the "tough guy" way to portage a canoe...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ebay Late 19th Century Penobscot Paddle

An Ebay posting found today of a Tiger Maple paddle. Seller claims it is late 19th century from the Penobscot Nation in Maine...

Seller's Description:
A beautifully made and gracefully shaped canoe paddle from the Penobscot nation of northern Maine. The wear and color of the lovely surface makes it evident that it is significantly old, most probably late 19th century. There is no damage. It is 56 3/4" long by 4 3/8" wide.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Exquisite Rick Nash Paddle & Display Case

In my opinion, Rick Nash of Woodland Heirlooms is the finest traditional paddle carver around today. His magnificent paddle creations (all featured previously - click here) are just stunning to amateur hobbyists like myself. His latest creation for a client included an equally beautiful display case made from butternut (73" x10") and lined with a dark teal coloured velvet. It was constructed with a special channel in the middle so that the shaft of the paddle fits with pressure.  Feast your eyes on the gorgeous paddle art below...

Paddle & Display Case

Blade Closeup with etched patterns

Pics Courtesy of R Nash - Woodland Heirlooms

Monday, November 26, 2012

November Winter Paddle

Hope my American visitors had an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday this weekend. Up here, Central Ontario had its first significant snowfall on Saturday. Just so happened we were at the cottage lake during this time. Haven't been in the canoe since early August so despite the slightly chilly temps of -8°C, a quick paddle on the lake was must. Here's a shot by the shore with the sprinkling of snow on the disassembled boat slips.

Stayed close to the shoreline where water levels were quite low. In shallow water, I've become partial to the small Birch Cree paddle that was reshaped from a kids paddle back in 2010. Nice wide tip in case you scrape the bottom with an interesting design that works well in shallow or deep water.

Not much in terms of wildlife anymore as the lake is preparing for another slumbering winter season. However, did get a splashy show from this small flock of Canadian Geese...

Unfortunately I completely missed the fall leaf colour change this year but heard from many folks that it was stunningly vibrant compared to previous seasons. The winter view was a nice consolation prize...

Also got a chance to test out the recently completed c1839 Minnesota Voyageur replica. Just at this moment, the sun peaked out behind some clouds lighting up the warm cherry hues of the paddle and the golden white cedar. Was a nice contrast to the chilly black water and otherwise bland background colours.

Here's a clumsy shot trying to take a pic of the paddle grip in action. Despite having some bulky wool mittens on, the flattened grip was comfortable enough for a relaxed paddle stroke. The small, roll top grip was sufficient for gripping in the usual manner, but I found it worked best as a "stopper" of sorts when holding the grip along the edge

Found a neighbour's snow covered dock and set up the camera for an auto-timed shot. This was the best I could do before the chilly temps killed the battery. Winter paddling, even if it just for a quick jaunt, is so rejuvenating. With more snow in the forecast and ice forming by the shoreline, this is certainly the last paddle for the year.

Signing off for the 2012 paddling season

Friday, November 23, 2012

St. Mary's Maliseet FN Paddles

Came across a snapshot article from Daily Gleaner outlining a visit of Canadian Architect Douglas Cardinal  to St. Mary's First Nation in New Brunswick. The story features some photos of the replica of the Grandfather Akwiten built by Steve Cayard and G. Wayne Brooks at the St.Mary's First Nation in 2009 (more info on Steve Cayard's site here).

Anyway, the newspaper article had a close up Brooks & Cardinal holding some traditional paddles...what looks to be both an older set with curved notches in the grip and a new set with some basic etching.

Photo Credits:
Photo: Stephen MacGillivray/Canadaeast News Service

Monday, November 19, 2012

1915 Maine Canoe Trip Photos

From a sold Ebay Link are some vintage pics of a 1915 Maine Canoe trip. These were part of an album containing 59 photos. The seller believes the photographer probably was P. DOUGLAS ANDERSON (1887-1964) or RAY JEROME BAKER (1880-1972). Also included is the name of the canoe guide listed as "Guide: A.F.Ayer"

For canoe enthusiasts, these pics feature some early forms of closed gunnel cedar canvas canoes. Like their birchbark forerunners they lack seats. The sport would sit on the floor of the hull in the bow and the guide typically on a widened thwart near the stern. Some of the pics include a few shots of the classic Maine Guide paddles with their flattened grips. The last photo in the sequence below features a closeup shot of the guide paddling in the stern with a wide flared grip. Reminds reminds me of another photo posted earlier from an 1899 canoe trip down the Penobscot.

Canoe Fleet on Shore - not the widened plank seats in the stern

Loaded up

Northwoods paddle in the stern

Guide paddling a stream - his setting pole resting over the gunnel

Pose by the shore

Guide paddling the stern

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Canvas Canoe UK

Steven Hanton and Willow Lohr have begun a canoe business in Scotland appropriately named Canvas Canoes. Pics from their new website show some gorgeous looking traditional northwoods gear including setting poles, wanigans and packbaskets. Included on their products page are some current models of paddles, one of which is a traditional scalloped gripped Northwoods Guide from ash.

Steve Hanton's Northwoods Paddle 

Northwoods Grip Closeup 

Beautiful stuff. The primary canoe model is based on the 17.5' Atkinson Traveller, a classic Maine tripping canoe. Photos showcasing the canoe include some shots of Steven with one of his first paddle creations - a 6foot long, whippy paddle with lots of flex. Steven was kind enough to provide some details regarding its origin - apparently traced from an circa 1920's Guide Paddle from Alexandra Conover Bennett of Northwoods Ways.

The blade was decorated with some chip carved Penobscot patterns obtained from from Frank Speck's 1940 publication, Penobscot Man.  These look to be similar to an earlier F. Speck publication dated to 1927 available online entitled, Symbolism in Penobscot Art which was posted about earlier if (see link HERE).

Penobscot Etchings

Wishing Steven and Willow well in their new canoe business and looking forward to seeing more of their photos. If you'd like to get in touch with them, you can do so through their contact info below:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mike O's Journey By Canoe Project

I'm a little late in posting about this, but Mike O of Reflections Outdoors blog has been working to secure funding for a canoe project for at-risk native youth. Anishinaabe Babamadizwin: A Journey By Canoe.  Readers might recall that Mike previously helped organize a canoe restoration project in remote Fort Severn, Ontario to work on the freighter canoes of the local Cree community.

Here are some excerpts describing his vision of this new project...
The Anishinaabe Babamadizwin: A Journey By Canoe  would be a First Nations canoe project for Anishinaabe youth….using the canoe as a means to help these young people on their life's journey. Such canoe trips could develop leadership skills as well as increase awareness of their Native culture and traditions. The youth participants return to their communities as future leaders.
Such trips could involve bark canoes….and wood canvas canoes….built by First Nations youth….for the trips. This past summer bark canoes were built by Native youth in Ottawa….on Bear Island in Temagami ….and in Oshawa. Hopefully 4 wood canvas canoes, specifically built for this project, could be painted by various Anishinaabe artists….and after the trip ends each of these canoes could be raffled off to further fund canoe projects in First Nation communities.

Round 3 of voting for funding for this project runs for the next 12 days and once you register, you can vote each day of the remaining voting time. Read more and vote HERE if interested.

P.S. If you are problems logging on or registering with the Aviva Community Fund website (like I did), you'll need to try another web-browser. It worked finally when I used Google Chrome...

Friday, November 9, 2012

MHS Voyageur Paddle Replica: Part 2

Been slowly working on my replica of the Minnesota Historical Society paddle (dated to 1839) supposedly belonging to a voyageur...

The blade was pretty much done (see Part 1 here) but some final shaping of the grip and shaft was necessary...

Partially completed paddle on the shave horse

The grip area was shaped with a knife to form the rounded top similar, but not identical, to the lipped top of the original. The whole paddle was left a bit rougher since I'm trying to get better relying on just a carving technique so many of the knife marks are still there - something that I can accept with this paddle replica. Here's a pic of the paddle wetted to raise the grain

Wetting to raise grain - classic cherry colour

The only decoration on the original paddle is the incised grip area. Took a pencil and sketched out my own version of the decoration with a few subtle differences in the pattern. Instead of adding the initials "W.D." which appear in the middle of the grip, I've left this section blank and may add in some initials later. The pencil graphite reflected a lot flash if a straight-on picture was taken, so the following pic is set a bit on an angle...

Pencil sketch of decoration pattern on grip

About 45 minutes of basic burning and the paddle was ready for its first coat of oil. Took advantage of the first bit of afternoon sun we've seen in over 10 days to get some pics. Here's the completed paddle below but it'll have to wait until next season to be used.

Completed c1839 Minnesota Voyageur Paddle Replica

Newer Posts Older Posts Home Page