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Native Watercraft Books

Birchbark Canoes of the Fur Trade
by Tim Kent

This is an invaluable resource for those interested in North American history, the fur trade, canoes, early exploration, the traditional life ways of Native American people, early military transport, and sailing craft. The core of the book is based on the author's discovery of eight surviving original voyaging canoes of the nineteenth century, four in full size and four minature models. These historical treasures, representing both freight canoes and express canoes are preserved in museum collections in England, Canada, and the United States.

The author provides detailed descriptions of each element of these canoes, which contain a number of previously unreported features as well as authentic period repairs of the bark cover and wooden elements. Also included is a reexamination and expansion ofall the fur trade materials in the classic work by Adney and Chapelle. This is necessary in light of the newly-discovered original specimens, as well as numerous new historical resources of which both Adney and Chapelle were unaware.

In addition, the book containes extensive chapters on the orgins, manufacture, decoration, usage, sailing, portaging, repair, storage, equipment, and cargoes of voyaging canoes. A great deal of this material pertains to the 17th and 18th century French era of the trade. Based on unpublished record books and documents of French outfitters, traders, and travelers, as well as numerous other early documents, much of this material has never before been published.

The work is copiously illustrated with other 150 contemporary and early photographs, some 200 line drawings, and reproductions of numerous art works of the fur trade period. Many of the photographs and art works are presented in full color.

"An invaluable souce for the amateur and professional historians, museums and historic sites, authors and re-enactors. These volumes will significantly ease the labors of anyone interested in furthering his knowledge and appreciation of the great bark canoes of North America. A major reference work for amateur and professional alike." - Ralph Frese, Premier canoe historian, designer, and builder

Oversize paperback. 686 pages in two volumes.

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The Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America
by Edwin Adney and Howard Chapelle

The art of bark canoe building might have been lost altogether but for the work of artist-craftsman Edwin Abney. In 1899, Adney build his first Birch bark canoe under the guidance of a Malecite Indian. This early interest developed into a life-long study that resulted in a collection of paper, drawings, and models reproduced here. Howard Chapelle, who compiled and edited Adney's papers added a chapter describing Eskimo skin boats and kayaks to round out this remarkable study.

This classic study is the definate work on bark canoes. Revealing the secrets of a nearly lost craft this book will appeal to craftspeople and canoe enthusiasts, as well as scholars in material culture and Native American studies.

Detailed line drawings. Photos and construction techniques for 13 tribal styles of birchbark canoes, many kayak and umiak (open skin boat) styles, and temporary bark and skin boat styles. The Native boat builder’s bible.

"Edwin Adney...understood Indian language. The material he assembled, over decades, had not been gathered in anything like such details and scope before, nor could it ever be again, for in Adney's lifetime the number of makers of bark canoes declined from the thousands to a scattered, vestigial few. Alone, Adney perserved this immemorial technology." - John McPhee, The Survival of the Bark Canoe

"A fascinating and richly detailed clook at a nearly lost handicraft...This book will tell you how to build these craft, what tools and materials were used, and how they were prepared for incorporation in the the boat. Also discussed are the changes in construction and materials that took place as European products were introduced." - Fine Woodworking

"The most extensive description of native boats in North America." - Canoe

Oversize paperback, 242 pages. 

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Building a Birch Bark Canoes
by Richard C. Schneider

Thirty years ago, there were few birch bark canoe builders remaining in North America - even fewer in the United States, but that was when Richard Schneider undertook to build one from scratch himself.

This book describes the procedures and processes as well as the problems in traditional birch bark canoe construction: from the harvesting of bark and roots to caulking and sailing the finished 12-foot long vessel. Originally recorded in 1970 as a chapter in his LINK Crafts of the North American Indians, this new edition now includes recent research and additional observations of contemporary canoe builders not available for the first version.

Everything is well documented in great detail and with ample illustrations by the author for readers who want to be informed about this most unique of Native American watercraft. Whether you inted to build on yourself or simply want to know how it is/was done, this is the book!

Paperback, 61 pages. 

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