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The Birch Bark Canoe Step 3

Over the course of the next 6 days all efforts were on completing the Birch Bark canoe. Each morning I would get up at 6:00 and review my notes and look at the canoe in order to see if they were complete. Once I updated my notes and had coffee and breakfast work would start on the canoe.

Modern Weights Cinder Blocks

Weighing down the bark

All photographs from this post are the property of Kevin Brownlee (personal collection).

Since Myra and I were both beginners we were given the task of sewing all the seams together with the 500 feet of finished spruce roots. While we worked on that, Grant focused his attention on the wooden structure of the canoe including the inwales, outwales, gunwale caps, thwarts, ribs, planking, headboard and stem pieces.

Sewing with spruce roots

Myra Sewing the gunwales

Jim Jones Senior helps to sewi the gunwales

The inwales, outwales and gunwales caps were split from a 22 foot long cedar pole. The 40 ribs were made from 3 – 5 foot sections of large cedar logs (60 inches in diameter). Five thwarts needed for the canoe were made Black Ash. Myra and I also made over 80 iron wood pegs for pining the inwale, outwale and gunwale caps together.

The canoe started as flat sheets of birch bark and each day began to the canoe looked more and more like a real canoe. By the end of day 5 the canoe was completely sewn and ready for the ribs and planking.


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.