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Step 4 Birch Bark Canoe

On Sunday we started to insert the planking and ribs into the canoe. We started at the end and worked towards the middle. The pairs of ribs are for either end, keeping the shape identical front to back. A finished birch bark canoe can technically be paddled with either end as the stern or bow. We decided to use two different colours of spruce roots at each end to differentiate, the bow we used light spruce roots and the stern we used dark spruce roots. All photos in this blog are the property of Kevin Brownlee (personal collection).

Grant places the cedar planking in the canoe before the ribs are added

 

Grant hammers in a rib with an iron wood mallet

Starting to add the ribs on the other side. Notice half of the ribs are already in place.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
It was truly amazing watching Grant hammer in the ribs. Each was measured, cut to length, the end was tapered and then it was hammered into place. The tension put on the bark as the ribs were inserted is amazing and the canoe truly takes form.

Bending and installing the last rib

 
 
 

The last rib is in the very middle and the wood was drenched with hot water to help the wood bend. It looks like the rib should break and then it slips into place.

 

 

 

 

Bending the out wales with hot water.

 
 
 

Stiching up the out wales

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Kevin Brownlee

Curator of Archaeology

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Kevin Brownlee obtained his Master’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Manitoba. He was hired as the Curator of Archaeology at the Manitoba Museum in 2003. His research focuses on the archaeology of Manitoba’s boreal forest and the emerging filed of indigenous archaeology.