I purchased a birch bark canoe built by Basil Smith and Jocko Carle recently with the intent of restoring and most likely keeping.
But after a lot of thought I have decided that the Jocko Carle/Basil Smith birch bark canoe too valuable to keep….plus I have medical expenses I did not figure on since I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes last week.
The canoe was built 40 to 50 years ago. This is an authentic 13′ bark canoe built by 2 of the best builders from Maniwaki Quebec, Jocko Carle, Basil Smith. Built from a single piece of bark….in amazing shape….mostly just needs some new lashing and new pitch….and then will be ready to be on the water again.
It will be fully restored by Chuck Commanda (William Commanda’s grandson….Basil Smith was William’s brother-in-law) and myself.
Open to reasonable offers considering the importance of this canoe. Serious inquiries only. A 50% deposit would be required, with the remaining 50% paid upon completion.
This is a very significant canoe, worthy of any serious collector.
NOTE: In 1980 Jocko and Basil were filmed doing a full build; this film is available through Henri Vaillancourt: http://www.birchbarkcanoe.net/video-canoe.htm.
Almost a year ago an amazing restaurant opened in Toronto….Kū-Kŭm Kitchen where chef Joseph Shawana reimagines traditional Indigenous recipes with fine dining techniques. Kū-Kŭm Kitchen is a restaurant with a philosophy of showcasing what chef Joseph Shawana calls the “whole ingredient,” by which he means using what’s readily available and respecting the source of our nourishment— Mother Nature. He’s a patron of foragers, and Indigenous fishers and hunters. It’s his deeply personal brand of locavorism.
I am so taken by this great restaurant that I offered to gift a birch bark canoe model to Kū-Kŭm. This canoe model is now on display at Kū-Kŭm Kitchen….it is an old fashioned Anishinaabe canoe (1/4 scale)….please feel free to check it out for yourself if you are in Toronto. Better yet check out the incredible food….great service….plus fantastic atmosphere with great art.
581 Mount Pleasant Rd. 416-519-2638, kukum-kitchen.com
First Stage of Canoe Construction:
A gunwale frame is used to give the canoe its basic shape. Stakes are placed in the ground at regular intervals. Instead of the gunwales, a building frame is used in some areas.
Second Stage of Canoe Construction:
The stakes and the gunwales or building frame have been removed and laid aside. A single sheet of bark, with the outside of the bark on the inside, is aligned on carefully smoothed bed. Then gunwales or building frame are placed over the bark and weighed down with stones.
Third Stage of Canoe Construction:
The bark is now shaped over the building bed and the stakes reinserted into their holes in pairs and tied across the canoe. Gores are cut in the bark as the canoe is shaped toward the ends. Part of the bark is shaped here and secured between the stakes and long battens. “A” shows battens secured by sticks lashed to stakes.
Fourth Stage of Canoe Construction:
The bark has been shaped and the gunwales raised to sheer height. All stakes are placed. “A” indicates the sticks which fix the sheer of the gunwales. “B” indicates blocks placed under ends to form rocker. The side panels are shown in place and the thwarts have been inserted. The side seams and gores are sewn and the stempieces (not visible) are sewn in place to form the ends. Double gunwales (inwale and outwale) are now in place. If the gunwales and thwarts have been used as a building frame, the sides will slope inward (tumblehome) once the ribs are in place. If a narrower building frame is used, the sides will flare.
Fifth Stage of Canoe Construction:
The canoe is removed from the building bed and set on horses for complete sewing and shaping the ends. The bark cover has dried out in a flat-bottomed and wall-sided form. The canoe is now ready for the ribs to give it a final shape.
Sixth Stage of Canoe Construction:
The cedar sheathing (upper left) is placed in the canoe, overlapping in the middle, and held in place by temporary ribs (lower right). The wulegessis (a protective bark flap on the bow and stern of the canoe) is in place and the canoe is ready to take its final shape. The ribs are inserted in pairs from the ends and tapped in place, their ends fitting firmly between the inwale and outwale with group lashing in the space between the ribs.
Aabadizo wenizhishid giizhik-the fine cedar is used
Abwiikewag-they make a paddle
Apisidaagan(ag)-slat(s) or sheathing
Apisidaaganike-s/he makes sheathing
Bigiwikewag-they make pitch
Biindakoojigewin-offering of tobacco
Bikwakokaan(an)-wooden or cedar peg(s)
Bikwakokaanike-s/he makes wooden pegs
Bimikwaanike-s/he forms gunnels
Bishagaakobijigewag-they are peeling birch bark
Gwayako-didibinan!-Roll it up correctly!
Ishkweyaang-back of the canoe
Jiimaanike-wigiwaaming-canoe making house
Maananoons-ironwood/hop hornbeam tree
Maniwiigwaase-s/he gathers birch bark
Mookodaaso-s/he carves or whittles
Naajibigiwe-s/he harvests spruce pitch
Nagaajiwanaang-also known as Fond du Lac Reservation
Niigaan-front of the canoe
Obishagaakobidoon Wiigob-s/he peels the inner bark of the basswood
Odoozhi’aawaan apisidaaganag-they make cedar sheathings
Odoozhitoonaawaa Jiimaanike-Wigamig-they build the canoe making house
Ogiishkizhaanaawaan-they cut and trim the roots
Onaadinaanaawaan wadabiin -they go get spruce root
Onaakosijigewag-they use frame and stakes to bend the canoe into the proper shape
Ondewan-the roots are boiling
Ozhiitaawin-getting ready for…
Waagaadoowaatig(oog)-end piece(s) or inner prow piece
Waawaashkeshi bimide-deer fat
Wiigob(iin)-inner basswood bark string(s)
Wiigwaasi-Gashkigwaasowin-birch bark sewing
Wiigwaasi-Jiimaan-birch bark canoe