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General question about an old birch bark canoe find

Discussion in 'Birchbarks, Dugouts and Primitive Craft' started by diggerdirect, Apr 29, 2014.

  1. diggerdirect

    diggerdirect New Member

    Hi all, new here, I live in upstate NY near the eastern shore of Lake Ontario, about 50 miles south of the St. Lawrence river. I just returned from looking at an old barn and its contents. A wonderful example of an early 19th century structure, landowner says it used to be an old cider mill and was moved to this property in the early 20th century by his Grandfather. Hand hewn beams, mortise & tenon wood pinned joints, ect. Aside from all the contents one item I know little about that is in there is an old birch bark canoe, aprox. 10-12 foot or so long, appears like a black pitch type substance was used to seal the seams, wonderful interior wood frame and planking that looks as if it could have been hand made but would have been by a skilled person. It appears in pretty good condition but does have alittle damage to bark in the front. I doubt it is or could be useable, so would be a 'wall hanger' I think is the term.

    Am wondering if someone could steer me to a site where I might research the type, possible age, collectibility, ect. of this before I include it in an offer. He is willing to do a deal for the contents of the barn with/without this canoe (he seems to think it is quite valuable, & I just dont know) I am looking to get some general knowledge about these things before I present my offer. Thanks in advance for any insight.

    Al Parker
  2. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    Perhaps Ferdy will chime in shortly. He knows. Be very careful if you move it. spritz it with water first if you can. And you can research more be visiting Ferdy's website, beaverbarkcanoes. Lots of pictures are helpful.
  3. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

  4. OP

    diggerdirect New Member

    Thankyou for the replies, I will check out the sites listed. It was one of those moments I guess, on house calls when items are mentioned outside of my expertise I always take my camera with me, this old canoe nestled away up in a corner of the loft was as much a surprise to him as me I think, It wasn't noticeable at all until I moved a bunch of stuff in front/around it. I will get some pictures. Are there any specific areas of the canoe that will help to better date it that should have close up taken? Again I thank all for their help.

  5. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Several important areas are: the decks, the stem profiles, the interior, the thwarts, the thwart / rail connections, decorations, and any obvious damage. The presence or lack of metal fastenings will also be important. The page at has a good example of the documentation for a very old one. It can be very difficult to accurately date these.

  6. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    To help date it look for things like iron nails or any other "modern" touches. The types of nails (if there are any) is interesting information. Pictures can be very helpful....there were many types of birch bark canoes built.

    I once sold a 12 footer (in rough shape) for $500 was way beyond repair so also a "display" item. I wouldn't have paid anything for it since it was not useable. It's all about finding the right buyer.

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