Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Salish Sea Canoe Journey

An acquaintance of mine over at the WoodenBoat forum is a fellow by the name of James McMullen.  James is a shipwright at an outfit called Emerald Marine in Anacortes, Washington.  James' primary interest is in traditional sail-and-oar boats and he has quite a nice one.  (Along with several other boats and kayaks...)  However, he recently went to an event called the Salish Sea Canoe Journey which was hosted by the Swinomish tribe in LaConner, Washington.  The pictures that follow are his (reproduced with his permission) and are wonderful.  Thanks go out to James for kindly sharing with us.

Basically the event is a cultural event which is centered around the dugout canoes of the region.  Among the canoes were traditionally built canoes of cedar logs that have been hollowed and then formed with heat and steam to shape the sides of the canoe.  According to James, some of the canoes were made using more modern methods including planks, cedar strip and fiberglass.  Most of the canoes, however were traditionally carved and decorated boats.  Some were as long as 30 and 40 feet long!

Per James - "The full range of traditional shapes and styles are represented. These canoes are lovingly owned and maintained by people who take their roots very seriously, and they build and use the same designs that their great-great-grandfathers would have used. Some of these canoe families paddled for over two weeks to get to this meet."

The canoes reflect different designs by different Tribes from different areas.  As with most craft that are designed and built by indigenous peoples, they have evolved over a long period of time adapting to what works for the conditions in that particular area and the tasks that they wanted to the boats to perform.

A Northern type Canoe - with a lovely Cedar wreath on the bow.

These canoes are Makah style - note the centerboard trunk in the canoe in the foreground.  That canoe is intended for sailing!

A Salish canoe on the left and two Nuu-Cha-Nulth types to the right.  (James made all the identifications - even after Adney, I'm not certain of all of my canoe types...)

Note the pavilion in the background.  These were built by the Swinomish  people for this event.  Note the shape.

...And here is the inspiration for the shape - a traditional woven cedar rain hat!  I suppose you could say that the pavilions are just big rain hats!  Take note of the cool paddles that they're carrying too.

Here is an interesting shot of the interior of the pavilion showing the construction.

All-in-all some pretty cool shots of some very interesting canoes.  One of these days, I do hope to make it out the the Pacific Northwest to see some of these things for myself.  The culture of the Native people of the Pacific Northwest  - all the way from Oregon up to Alaska, has some pretty interesting small craft traditions that I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to share in.

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