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The Survival of the Birchbark Canoe

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posted on May, 10 2013 @ 09:11 PM
One man is credited for saving the art of Birch bark canoe construction from extinction, Edwin Tappan Abney. July 13, 1868 in Athens, Ohio - October 10, 1950.

An artist, a writer (The Klondike Stampede), a student of the language of the Maliseet peoples of New Brunswick, Canada, and the man credited with saving the art of birchbark canoe construction from oblivion. He constructed more than 100 one-fifth scale models of different types of canoes, which are now housed at the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, VA.

He was a great observer of minute details of how the Maliseet's constructed their canoes in 1880's.

While traveling thru the Great Lakes region, Main and New Brunswick, he made 100's of detailed drawings and sub-scale models of various Native American birchbark canoes. He made his one full-scale canoe with help from a Maliseet expert builder. He was planning on publishing them in a book when he died in 1950.

These artifacts were given to Howard Chapelle an American naval architect, and curator of maritime history at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. In addition, he authored many books and articles on maritime history and marine architecture.His compilation resulted in a 1983 book "The Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America".

Amazon link:
Book detals on Amazon

This book inspired many current expert builders of birchbark canoes. Henri Vaillancout is one of them.

Henri's website:
Henri Vallaincourt Website
He was commissioned by Michael Eisner (past Disney CEO) to build one for EPCOT Center and one for his personnal collection.

This book also started current Native Indian Tribes in beginning classes for members to re-learn the trade.
I found a site that explains how water is one of the traditions ingrained in their beliefs:
Native American Traditions and student classes

More images:

The winter harvested bark is needed for the intricate Indian Pictorals.

In summary, this is very ancient human technology...for thousands of years refined by water-based cultures. Adding this to your bush-craft survival skills benefits your mind, body, and soul.

posted on May, 10 2013 @ 09:22 PM
Awesome. Real skills in this construction.

Makes the average modern man in any city who thinks he actually knows anything useful look pathetic really doesn't it.

posted on May, 10 2013 @ 09:36 PM
reply to post by MadMax7

I know many "poser's" on YouTube and the web, but not ATS Survival Experts!
Not currently living in fresh water region is holding me up from persuing my own build. I have build a wood kayaks for saltwater fishing. It took a long to time build them so getting motivated for birchbark is going to be about 5 years down the road...might make a trip to Maine for materials.
Thanks for replying.
ETA: This is done with no nails or ropes...just processed Jack Pine roots.
edit on 10-5-2013 by Granite because: (no reason given)

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