Dugout sources, ex-Northwest or Pacific

Bob Holtzman

Would like to learn more about log boats other than the well-documented canoes from the Pacific Northwest and the Pacific/Polynesia etc. Can anyone recommend info. sources on dugouts from the rest of N. America, S. America, Africa? I'm not aware of any comprehensive books on the subject in any of these geog. areas -- nothing like an Adney or a Haddon & Hornell.
Take a look at "The Canoe" by Kenneth G. Roberts and Philip Shackleton with ISBN 0-87742-175-7. This has a section on The Dugout which covers: The Caribbean, Central America, Mexico of the Aztecs, Lands of the Maya, Florida, The Eastern Seaboard, The Mississippi and Westward, Northward, Coast to Coast, The North Pacific, and California. Another source is "The Canoe, A Living Tradition" by John Jennings with ISBN 1-55209-509-6. This has a smaller Dugouts section which covers: Vessels of Life: Northwest Coast Dugouts and Building Dugouts. Let us know if you find any other good sources. Thanks,


I have that book and I'll take another look. I'm hoping to find the equivalent of an Adney or Haddon/Hornell, but it seems none exists.
I hauled out my copy of Roberts and Shackleton. It's interesting reading, though pretty speculative. One early ethnographic reference is given stating that it includes considerable detail about dugout canoe building;
Douglas Taylor, The Caribs of Dominca, Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 119, Smithsoninan Instititution, 1938.
I did a quick internet search of book sources and came up with nothing. It may be available through an academic library/interlibrary loan system.
Where you

really need to visit is the Museum of Natural History in NYC. They have a large collection of dugouts and skin on frame canoes and kayaks from not only America but all around the world. You need to somehow get in the storage rooms - that's where the good stuff is that is never on display. I was in there 20 years ago but my contact is no longer there - you need a key to make the elevator go to that floor. It's worth a couple phone calls or letters.


PS Don't try to stay after closing time unless you have a bone to give the T-Rex :)
Rob & Jim, thanks

Rob-Yes, this is what I really need to do -- start reading the bibliographies of "popular" books and following up in the academic literature. The difficulty is that I'm nowhere near a university library, but I'll have to overcome that somehow.

Jim-I'll have to make friends at the NY museum. Just last week I used my connections to get into the storage space at the Canadian Canoe Museum and it was truly awesome -- some 500 boats in storage. (Some photos here.) It was just a walk-through, however. The other thing that I need to do is find some way to spend a few weeks in Peterborough to read through their accession records to learn about all those beauties.

I understand that Timothy Kent has a book in the works that is a survey of log boats in N. America. I've written him (by snailmail - I can't find his phone or email) to find out its status. Maybe this will be the Adney & Chappelle of dugouts?
See if you can latch onto a copy of "Canoe and Kayak Books: A guide to over 2,000 English language books and ephemera written about the canoe, the kayak and other paddlecraft" by Jerry Cassell, 1997. It is OOP and only limited numbers are out there, so it might a while to locate one.
Sounds like a good resource. I just did quick Amazon and Google searches and didn't come up with it, but I'll keep looking. Thanks.
I have searched for just such a book myself, and not yet found it. I have many other reference books, such as already have been mentioned above, but not found anything that specifically covers dugouts from the Americas or Africa, other than the Pacific northwest, and Haddon/Hornell for Oceania. A friend tells me there is a French text similar to H&H called "Pirogues Oceaniennes", by Jean Neyret. This is a two-volume encyclopedia of just about every indigenous watercraft from India to Hawaii + a few from north America (i.e. couple of kayaks and canoes) + South America + Africa. The Dutch, being great explorers a few hundred years back, may also be another historical source, and it wouldn't surprise me to learn there is something similar to be found in Germany. Having the Internet as a search tool has been a real blessing. Occasionally one comes across a link to a museum, a collection or even travel posters which show indigenous watercraft. I have used these and other sources to assist in learning more in relation to my own world-wide model collection.

BTW, one of the best little booklets I have ever come across on dugouts from N. America is "Canoes and Kayaks of Western America", by Bill Durham. It was OOP for a long time but was re-printed a few years back by Copper Canoe Press, of Seattle. More historic info and drawing details than anything else I've ever seen. And, for details on the various styles of Alaskan kayaks, you can't beat David Zimmerly's "Qayaq", by U. of Alaska Press.

If you find anything that covers the international scene, please let me know.

Good luck searching.

Roger Y.
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" The difficulty is that I'm nowhere near a university library, but I'll have to overcome that somehow.

These are widely accessible electronically these days. And I am one who has a password. I'll see what I can find.

And there are public access historic/heritage resource services such as;

Early Canadiana Online (subscription fee); http://www.canadiana.org/en/

Exploration, the Fur Trade and the Hudson's Bay Company;
Includes microfiche searches, now computerized! for those who remember sitting long hours in libraries feeding cellulose into the reader.

Library & Archives of Canada;
I did a quick search of the terms "canoe" and "dugout". No references found for "dugout".

Interestingly, other searches for dugout bring up baseball related stuff. Note; there is an internet information service in Canada called "Canoe", so that comes up a lot.

I recall an earlier thread on this Forum of someone researching dugout building techniques to reproduce one for use in a film production. I did an archival search and didn't come up with anything.

The Smithsonian has searchable archives in American History and Culture and American Indian here;

Searching ABE and AddAll book searches, I didn't find any available copies of either
"Canoe and Kayak Books" by Jerry Cassell, 1997 or "Log Boats of North America" by Timothy Kent.
Note Timothy Kent also authored, "Birchbark Canoes of the Fur Trade; Vols I & II".
Will look for both via a university library.

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Roger and Rob,
Many good ideas and leads here. I'll start digging into them. I'm amazed and pleased at the amount of helpful responses my query generated. What a great group! Many thanks for your help.