Monthly Archives: March 2015

Birch Canoes in Maine

BIRCH BARK CANOES IN MAINE

September…mr Ballard Still prepareing for his Tour. he brot Two Birch Cannoes to our shore.*

The marvelous accommodations my husband Monte and I stayed at in Lamoine, Maine, provided much for our traveling comfort—cupboards filled with cooking needs (oil, salt, pepper, spices), cupboards of dishes and pans, drawers of silverware, linens…and one thing we had no desire for: canoes.

Colorful canoes can be seen at lakesides, in stores, atop cars, and in yards across the country. There are even some colorful canoes in my little community of Laurel Mountain Borough, Pennsylvania, flotation devices that attest to our proximity to waterways such as lakes and rivers. IMG_3468e2Canoes weren’t always colorful as the ones we see lined up outside stores, such as one in Ellsworth, Maine. Nor were they made in structures like our modern day canoe factories. IMG_7620E2I can’t help but insert a paragraph from the first draft of my novel-under-construction:

  •  Rosalie noticed that the Googins children were as handsome and large as they were affable and hospitable, in spite of their father’s potential disdain. Through their conversation she learned that they grew vegetables, maize, barley, potatoes, and flax, dined on venison, fish, pork, beef, fowl, and milk products. Nearly all had canoes they used for transportation and fishing. They salted the fish and exchanged it for sugar, flour, molasses and oil. They were also engaged in lumbering, and made tables and other furniture which they bartered for whatever commodities they needed.

Perhaps the canoes Rosalie saw the Googins family use were birch bark canoes. Birchbark_canoe,_Abbe_Museum,_Bar_Harbor,_ME_IMG_2301    2E2

The Penobscot Indian birch bark canoe, sturdily constructed and light enough to be carried overland by a single person, furnished an easy, convenient mode of water travel for the Indians of Maine and the Maritime Provinces. Such a canoe was critical to both the Indians and the white man during early colonial fur-trading era.

In 1632 Nicolas Denys, an early New Brunswick settler, wrote a detailed description of the Indian canoe, which measured about 2 feet wide in the middle and narrowed to nothing at the ends, and was deep enough to come up to the armpits of Continue reading