Bark Canoes

Bark Canoes

The Art and Obsession of Tappan Adney

Book - 2004
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Firefly Books Ltd

The definitive reference to indigenous peoples' watercraft around the world.

Tappan Adney (1868-1950) was an artist, writer, ethnographer, historian and modelmaker of unparalleled ability. He tirelessly documented the cultures and languages of vanishing native cultures. His most enduring legacy is the extraordinary 110 birchbark canoe models he handbuilt to exacting standards. The models, now held at The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia, were built to ensure future canoe builders had exact reproductions for reference.

These historically accurate, 1:5 scale models were meticulously researched, and traditionally constructed using the identical materials of the originals. Many are based on canoes that were the last example of their type. Before such a canoe disintegrated, Adney measured and recorded its dimensions, consulted with native builders and studied historical photographs and paintings.

The canoe models are organized into eight distinct groups:

  • Maritimes
  • Eastern Woodland
  • Northwest
  • Lower British Columbia
  • Fur Trade
  • Amur Valley
  • Asia
  • South America

Each canoe model is beautifully photographed and accompanied by captions that outline the craft's origins, uses and technical details. Adney's amazing technical drawings for the models are also included.

An extensive introduction covers Adney's life and provides information about native model builders, canoe decoration and fur trade heraldry.

Bark Canoes is the definitive reference to indigenous -- and ingenious -- watercraft used around the world.


Tapan Adney (1868-1950) created an extraordinary collection of meticulously researched museum quality traditional canoe models. This book is an illustrated guide to these models, including Adney's drawings and with an introduction to his life.

Book News
Jennings has been involved with creating the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough for the past 20 years, and here explains how Adney (1868- 1950) preserved the knowledge of Native bark canoes across North America by building 110 historically accurate models, many based on the last surviving example of their type. After a sketch of the writer and scholar, he describes the models and provides color photographs of them, reprints Adney's essay on how they are made, and discusses their social and geographical history. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Publisher: Buffalo : Firefly Books, c2004
ISBN: 9781552977330
1552977331
Branch Call Number: 623.829 Jen
Characteristics: 152 p. : ill. (some col.), col. map
Additional Contributors: Pemberton, John

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