DESCRIPTION OF A BARK CANOE.
Sault de St. Marie,
July 8, 1826.
The Governor has just inquired how I will proceed, in a barge or in a bark canoe-adding, that he had selected the barge. I chose the canoe, when it was arranged that Mr. Schoolcraft, and I, and Ben, would be the passengers for it. The canoe is upwards of a year old, but is newly gummed, and has some five or six new ribs put in to strengthen her. The voyagers are engaged, and on the spot, each with a red feather in his hat, and two others, in possession of the steersmen, one for the bow, and the other for the stern of the canoe. These plumes in the canoe are intended to indicate that she has been tried, and found worthy. We shall be guarded from the action of the sun's rays by an awning. This however, must come down when the wind blows, but then it will not be needed.
I have been examining this canoe, with the view of describing it-but the thing is so new to me in all respects, that I am doubtful where to begin with it. Its length is thirty feet, and its breadth across the widest part, about four feet. It is about two feet and a half deep in the center, but only about two feet near the bow and stern. Its bottom is rounded, and has no keel.
The materials of which this canoe is built, are birch bark, and red cedar, the whole fastened together with wat-tap and gum, without a nail; or bit of iron of any sort to confine the parts.- The entire outside is bark-the bark of the birch tree-and where the edges join at the bottom, or along the sides, they are sewn with this wattap, and then along the line of the seam, is gummed. Next to the bark are pieces of cedar, shaven thin, not thicker than the blade of a knife-these run horizontally, and are pressed against the bark b means of these ribs of cedar, which fit the shape of the canoe, bottom and sides, and coming up to the edges, are pointed, and let into a rim of cedar, of about an inch and a half wide, and an inch thick, that forms the gunwale of the canoe, and to which, by means of the wattap, the bark ' the ribs are all sewed; the wattap being wrapped over the gunwale, and passed thro' the bark ' ribs. Across the canoe are bars, some five or six, that keep the canoe in shape. These are fastened by bringing their ends against the gunwale, or edge, and fastening them to it with wattap.- The seats of the voyagers are alongside of, but below the bars, and are of plank, some four inches wide, which are swung, by means of two pieces of rope passed through each end from the gunwale.
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Our baggage and store, and the provisions for voyagers, and our tents, 'c., are estimated to weigh at least five hundred weight; and then there will be eleven of us (including Ben, who will not weigh short of fifteen hundred weight)- so the canoe of bark is destined to carry not less than two thousand pounds! The paddles are of red cedar, and are very light.- The blade is not over three inches wide, except the steersman's that is perhaps, five.
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Wattap, are the roots of the spruce, or cedar; and gum is the resinous substance extracted from the pine, and boiled-when it becomes hard.