Friday, December 20, 2013

Labrador Passage 2014 Expedition

Just found out about interesting canoe expedition planned for the summer of 2014. Labrador Passage is a documentary film project setting out to retrace Mina Hubbard's historic 1905 canoe journey through Labrador.

In this particular trip, the two paddlers will be using as much traditional, non-synthetic equipment as possible - canvas packs, tin-cloth rain gear, a canvas tent, etc. In addition, one of the sponsors - The Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum - is commissioning a specially built Atkinson Traveler cedar canvas canoe from Rollin Thurlow of the Northwoods Canoe Company. The plan is that after the expedition the Traveler will be returned to the WCHM where it will be added to museum collection for display.

Here's a vimeo vid of one of the crew members describing the plans for the journey.

This isn't the first attempt at retracing Mina's 1905 route in a cedar canvas canoe. In 2000, British freelance author Alexandra Pratt attempted this route with a single Innu guide, Jean-Pierre Ashini. Interesting that the canoe then was another Thurlow Northwoods canoe.

Pratt & Ashini setting out from North West River, Labrador

Unfortunately changes to river water levels due to modern hydroelectric projects, forest fires, as well her guide's knee injury during some upstream travel meant the expedition had to be abandoned quite early on and the team evacuated by helicopter. Not sure what happened to the canoe in the was left behind to be picked up in the winter. Her adventure was published in a book entitled Lost lands, forgotten stories : a woman's journey to the heart of Labrador. 

Hope this 2014 expedition has lots of success in tackling a very challenging route with the added "burden" of using historic gear on their trip

Thursday, December 12, 2013

18foot Agwiden Penobscot Birchbark Ocean Canoe

Recently came across this newly uploaded video (52 min) called "Agwiden" showcasing an 18 foot birchbark canoe build. Steve Cayard was the builder invited to the Penobscot Nation to help construct the first bark canoe there in over 60 years. Lots of closeups of the build technique. Learned some new things about bark canoe construction.

Can't seem to embed the video due to restrictions by the film-maker, but here is the direct link for viewing on Vimeo...

One of the neatest things is around the 4 minute mark where Steve climbs up the trunk of the monster birch to harvest the bark. Never saw this standing method of bark harvesting need to haul a ladder into the bush!

What also caught my eye was the elegant paddle used by Chief Barry Dana during the initial launch (around the 48:00 mark). Here is a screen shot...

The grip style is what Adney described as a "Malecite Group" paddle (Fig 65) belonging to a 18 foot Passamaquoddy Ocean Canoe.

Passamaquoddy Ocean Canoe Paddle (Fig 65)

I've carved quite a few paddles with this simple but effective grip style, including one of my earliest cherry paddles from 2008. It is quite comfortable when draping the wrist over the wide palm area. Here are some shots from the old condo balcony "workshop"

Ended up decorating this with a burned image of a Chickadee on a white pine branch...

For all you folks in the south who get to paddle year round...enjoy it! The temperature right now feels like a chilly -22 Celsius with the windchill.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Rick Nash Maliceet Class Cherry Paddle

Longtime followers of this blog will know of my gushing awe for the traditional paddles carved by Rick Nash of Woodland Heirlooms. Many of his beautiful creations have been featured on the site before (click here for all these posts).

Here's another paddle that's been recently updated on his page of Maliceet Class Paddles. This one from split cherry is 66" long with all the incising decoration done with a jack-knife and nail...

Maliceet Class Paddle Blade

 Maliceet Class Decorated Grip

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Rollin Thurlow Atkinson Traveler Giveaway

Pre-eminent wooden canoe builder Rollin Thurlow of Northwoods Canoe Company is celebrating a milestone in his shop and is running a contest that every lover of cedar canvas canoes should like. A recent post on his Northwoods Canoe Shop Cam blog states the following:

Write your way to a Atkinson Traveler
Over the last 36 years I have been very fortunate to be able to make my living doing what I love in such a specialized and admittedly old fashion occupation as custom building and restoring wooden canoes/boats. I have been able to restore almost every type of old classic boat, build reproductions of some of the best boats ever built and I have also been able to build and sell my own designs.
My shop has always been no more than a one, two and in some very busy years, a three person shop. I have been extremely lucky to have the help and assistance of Peter who has been my shop partner for over 20 years; Pam who does all the mail order shipping and book keeping and Andrea my supportive wife!
In the near future I will be taking the order for the one thousandth boat to be restored or built in my shop. To celebrate this milestone I want to build a special canoe that means a lot to me, the 17.5’ Atkinson Traveler. It is the first canoe I designed; named after the village I live in and designed for the wilderness paddling that I enjoy. It has been a very successful design which I am very proud of.
While I want to put all my years of experience into this canoe I also want it to be a canoe that is used as the design was intended. The Atkinson Traveler needs to be in the water, a few scratches on it, maybe a cracked rib or two from hard use, mud on the paint and a smile on every face in the boat. This is a boat that I want to build to my own specifications and I want it to be used as the canoe was designed for.
Because my customers and the WCHA (Wooden Canoe Heritage Association) have been such a important part of my professional success, I want to celebrate this one thousandth boat by offering this commemorative Atkinson Traveler completely free of charge to either;
1) A past or present member of the WCHA.
2) Any one of my past canoe/boat customers.
Cost of any shipping not included!
There is only one stipulation: The owner of the boat must promise the boat will be used as it was intended as per the original design; and the harder the use the better!
To be eligible for this boat please send me your name, your; contact info and a brief description of how you intend to use the boat. Please, no more than 300 words and be sure to include your WCHA membership number or NWCC customer number. Peter, Pam, Andrea and I will choose the top 25 essays and then have a drawing for the winner. There is no cost for the boat or to enter your essay. The boat will be on display at the 2014 WCHA Assembly where the drawing for the winner will take place. You need not be present to win but of course that would be nice. Sharpen up your pencils and plan on attending the 2014 Assembly!
Thank you for your years of support.

Wow...what a contest! If those words aren't enough to tempt you, here are some pics and stats of the boat in question - The Atkinson Traveler. I'm drooling looking at this beauty in action.


Traveler Specifications:
~ Length......... 17 1/2 ft.
~ Depth.......... 13"
~ Beam........... 35 5/8"
~ Bow Height..... 24 3/8"
~ Weight......... 75 lbs.

As Rollin outlines in his post, the contest is open to members of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association. Membership is a very affordable $40 US ($45 for Canadians). I know I eagerly look forward to each edition of the Wooden Canoe Journal which to me is worth the cost alone.

As a side note, I never found out who won the Moosehead Beer Canoe Contest from 2012 where another cedar canvas canoe was up for grabs up here in Canada. 

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