Birch Bark Canoe

Over the weekend I started reading The Survival of the Bark Canoe by John McPhee, a favorite author of The Wildwood and one discussed here previously. The book describes the process used by Henri Vaillancourt to make birch bark canoes using the same tools and methods American Indians perfected. The canoes which are made using no nails, screws, or rivets are essentially lashed and sewed together.

While describing the constriction process and history of the canoes, McPhees book also goes on to tell the story of an eventful expedition he goes on with Vaillancourt through the Maine woods. At the end of the book are also a great collection of drawings by Edwin Tappan Adney of birch canoes.

While had been thinking about building a boat recently, I think these birch bark canoes are a bit to much for a beginner. If you are interested however you can find out more at Henri Vaillancourt’s site and more history here.

Coming into the Country
June 3, 2010, 10:54 am
Filed under: The Great Outdoors, Wilderness Heroes | Tags: , ,

I began reading Coming into the County by John McPhee after reading this article by in in the New Yorker back a few months ago. I had never really read anything of his until then and was subsequently recommended the book by Lou Ureneck.

In the book Mcphee recalls the characters and characteristics which comprise the Alaskan landscape at the time. He examines the territory in three parts, first the total wilderness, urban Alaska, and then the people and place of the bush. “In the course of this volume we are made acquainted with the lore and techniques of placer mining, the habits and legends of the barren-ground grizzly, the outlook of a young Athapaskan chief, and tales of the fortitude of settlers–ordinary people compelled by extraordinary dreams,” via Mcphee’s site here.

There are some amazing quotes in the book but this is one of my favorite.

April 7, 2010, 7:29 pm
Filed under: Folk, The Great Outdoors | Tags: , , ,

Been working my way through John McPhee’s “Coming into the Country”, more on that book later, and came across a mention of a writer named “Nessmuk”. Not knowing what he was talking about I learned that Nessmuk was the pen name for George Sears, a nineteenth century writer who wrote for Forest and Stream magazine in the 1880’s. He also published a classic camping book called “Woodcraft” first published in 1884.

McPhee describes Woodcraft as being, “written with so much wisdom wit, and insight that it makes Henry David Thoreu seem alien, humorless, and French.”

Seeing that Cold Splinters seems to always have answers about obscure outdoors ephemera, I search Mr. Thorpe’s site a bit and came across this description of Nessmuk and “Woodcraft.”