Posted by: wadahp | January 31, 2011


Canoe Cultures…Construction

Historically, many tribe members learned how to make canoes but there were also expert craftsmen whose canoes were in demand, usually for their quality, beauty, and specialized use. Traditional tools included wood, stone or bone implements (maul, wedge, chisels, etc.), later replaced by steel versions. Adzes and chisels, along with fire, helped hollow out the massive cedar logs which would transport people and goods around the waterways of the Northwest Coast. Red cedar was the most common wood for Northwest canoe constructions. Cedar is durable wood, resistant to decay, and holds up well to prolonged water exposure. Another benefit of cedar is that the wood is easy to work with, having a soft, usually straight grain. Being end-grain pieces, canoe bows and sterns, tended to show wear first and required more frequent repairs than the body. With good care and maintenance, canoes lasted about ten years.[1]

For more information about canoe cultures and Native Canoe Journey’s of the Pacific Northwest –US and Canada visit:

[1]  Ronald T. Olson, The Quinault Indians and Adze, Canoe and House Types of the Northwest Coast (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1967), 70.

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