A Canoe is Built

Over the course of the past month, experienced birchbark canoe-builders, David Moses Bridges, Passamaquoddy, and Steve Cayard have been working five days a week in the courtyard at the Abbe to build a 14’ canoe. Hundreds of visitors have been able to see the canoe in process and talk to the builders. Visitors watched as the frame was built, the birchbark was unfurled, the ribs were constructed and put in place, the bark was attached, and etchings were selected and carefully and artistically completed. The canoe build will culminate this Friday with a reception and viewing from 6:00 – 9:00 pm during the final Art Walk of the summer. Here is a photo diary that captures the canoe’s construction over the past month.

Assembling the building bed.

Inserting the winter bark panels.

Measuring and bending the ribs.

Unrolling the bark - the canoe is made from one sheet of bark. This piece is 16' long.

Weighing the bark so it doesn't curl. It's important to keep it hot and wet so it doesn't crack.

Holding the bark in place while it dries. When the wood posts are removed, the bark will keep its shape.

Placing the frame on the bark.

Placing the frame on the bark and weighing it down.

Spruce roots laying across the boat to measure lengths.

Setting the ribs and planks at the same time.

Close-up of the ribs and planks.

Securing the frame to the bark with maple pegs and spruce root.

Locking in the ribs.

Lashing the bark to the frame with spruce roots.

Golf tees hold the layers together while David uses spruce roots to lash the bow of the boat.

Piercing holes in the bark layers at the bow of the boat.

Soaking spruce roots used for lashing.

The bow of the boat lashed with spruce roots.