Hidden Elements

Traditional Canoe Building Experience

In the summer of 1982, I spent a month on a remote lake near my home in Dorset Ontario, with the purpose of building a canoe on site under conditions that approximated years and cultures long gone. I went in with cotton tent, kit and traditional canoe building tools, and paddled out in a canoe built entirely from materials readily on hand near my campsite. The simple woodland classroom without electricity or comforts proved an invaluable experience. Here the evolution and efficiency of the bark canoe as transportation mainstay of the woodland Native cultures on the Canadian Shield, with its endless series of rivers and lakes, came into sharp focus.

This experience is documented in the photos you see here. For a complete description of the process see "Building Birchbark Canoes," by Rick Nash in The Canoe: A Living Tradition, 2002, edited by John Jennings, published by Firefly Books.

Click on any image for a full-size photo.