history tidbit?

Jack Wagner

WCHA Member
robert said:
That would be great to chat in person though, if you are back in the area between late May – yearly October let me know, I’m in Apsley doing research and writing during that period.

Robert, some other time perhaps..............

I'll leave you with a few "History tid-bits."


Here's another that may come in handy if Dan explains his reference to Roger's Book.
I was going to go there yesterday but decided against it....... :confused:


Now back to playing my Beatles White Album backwards ;)

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Dan Miller

cranky canoeist
Staff member
Also, what is this about Chestnut and South Africa? Are you just pulling my chain?

Indeed, I am not - Bobs (50-lb Special), Kruger, and Cronje (both Cruiser models) are named after Boer War people. Cronje surrendered to Lord Roberts (Bobs). Details are in Roger MacGregors book.

Mike Everett

Maine Canoeist
Thanks, Robert. Didn't mean to sound scathing, just critical.

I'm pleased to meet up with someone else who likes Cronon. He's been a big influence for me since I discovered "Changes in the Land" almost twenty years ago.

I protest that I'm not postmodern, at least as I understand the term. For example, I am so anachronistic as to believe that some civilizations are superior to others. Perhaps I'm "pre-modern."

Not all descriptions or conclusions are reductions, if reduction is to have any meaning. I disagree, in part, with your notion of reduction, if you'll permit a quibble. For example, I am using a "keyboard" to type this message. Specifically, I am not using an "idea of a keyboard" or a "representation of a keyboard." My point is that in this case "a keyboard" is not a "reduction" - the object itself is not its reduction. As you seem to use the term with regard to the canoe, any reference to an object or representation is a reduction, whether connotative or denotative. If "a canoe is just a canoe" is a reduction, what can you say about "canoe" that is not "reduction?" And if everything is "reduction" how, then, can you assert that reductions "completely undermine the complexity of lived experience and our interaction with the world natural or otherwise?"

"I championed the idea of Champlain as a malevolent figure only to display the multiplicity of interpretations embedded in the artifact and to draw controversy."

I don't believe this. Besides, favoring one interpretation over another is not failure; some are more correct than others. Your remarks about Champlain - "without giving credit" - "horrid colonial" - suggest that you have arrived at conclusions about his malevolence, your disclaimer notwithstanding.


Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
Hey Mike:

We may have to agree to disagree. I’m thinking more along the lines of a scientific reduction. The process by which one explainable portion of an object is removed and developed as a truism, and in turn, all other latencies embedded in that object are disregarded.

To think of a canoe just as a canoe, thus, in my mind, as solitary object removed from conflicting interpretations, or better yet, a manifold of interpretations obscures the object more then it reveals. In short the artifact is understood as a solitary representation that fails to attest to the multiplicity of being embedded there in.

I could be misinterpreting how you mean a “canoe is just a canoe” though.


Larry Meyer

Wooden Canoes are in the Blood
Or maybe just beautiful

Or maybe just beautiful as I said in article published a ways back in the Boundary Waters Journal

“Still, these contentions aside, the wood and canvas canoe’s most conspicuous asset and advantage is that it’s a beautiful piece of art. It’s the Shaker rocking chair of outdoor sport. It’s handcrafted, simple, clean, and functional. There’s nothing in it that doesn’t have to be there, but all of the pieces add up to more than the parts. It works well and it looks wonderful doing it.
The secret of the survival of the wood and canvas canoe then is that this beautiful boat appeals to people. It’s an affair of the heart. For some it’s a family matter and sentimental. It’s the canoe they grew up in. For some it’s the appeal of the craftsmanship that goes into them. In either case, the principle is the same. Beautiful things made by hand carry within them the seeds of their survival and regeneration. People love these things and give something extra of themselves to insure they endure.”

“ Varnished, painted and shellacked, the Prospector really began to glow. The shellac bottom and the varnished interior were almost identical in color, a coppery brown. For the painted sides I’d chosen a deep green that dried to a very high gloss. The green and copper worked well together. The sheer form of the boat is a delight to the eyes. Its lines and curves are graceful and simple. The interior of ribs and planking have a complex pattern of complimentary lines and curves that remind me of quilt. Contrasting with the visual intricacy of the interior is the big splash of green. A beautifully finished wood and canvas canoe gets your attention.”

Mike Everett

Maine Canoeist
Robert -

At the risk of boring everyone I'll take another turn here.

"The process by which one explainable portion of an object is removed and developed as a truism, and in turn, all other latencies embedded in that object are disregarded." - agreed.

But can "reduction" properly describe how one might imagine "canoe?" Let's agree that when I think "canoe" I'm unable to separate my image of the object from my imagination of the object.

But I can't - no one can - consider the entire universe of latencies associated with "canoe." In this sense everyone's particular image of "canoe" necessarily includes some set, or truism, of "removed portions" of the object while implicitly disregarding the universe of other possible latencies. In other words, it appears to me that as you apply "scientific reduction" to "canoe" everyone's "canoe" may be defined as a scientific reduction. Am I missing something?

Paul Miller

Canoe Nut
Our perception creates our reality.

Our perception is constantly filtered by our beliefs. Only those things that reinforce our belief is allowed to pass. Therefore reinforcing our belief and our reality.

Belief comes first, supported by experience. Belief is not the result of an unbiased perception of experience.

Judgement is the weak natural tendency of the human to categorize experience for future recall. We like to label things "good or bad". We than judge ourselves and others based on how many "good" or "bad" things are associated in some way with some one or some thing.

The lableing of a past event as good or bad carries the risk of self judgment that may render future events negative which may have otherwise not been.

On the other hand, a day paddling is always great, rain or shine.


Dave Osborn

I like Larry's BWJ article. It is how I think of vintage canoes.

As for "scientific reduction", most of my canoes have gone through various stages of that. The one that I have on the horses now has had the decks and stems "scientifically reduced." The reduction was accelerated and enhanced due to the application of fiberglass.
I take great pride in reversing the "scientific reduction" to see the ol' gals in their former glory.

PS.: Scientific reduction is also known as Reduction Over Time (ROT)
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Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
Hey Mike:

While I would agree with you, and subsequently Paul Miller, that the human reality is based on the need to reduce, or in Paul’s terms, to cast judgment, I don’t think we need to identify (or is it even possible) every latency in our artifacts. To understand several possibilities, while acknowledging the artifacts ability to exit beyond human understanding would be (is) enough for me.

I just fear that we get stuck thinking one thing. More so, I fear that in many cases, when building or restoring a canoe, the crafts person takes their actions to be value free. Are actions are certainly not value you free, and while we may be prompting a sublime notion of the canoe in our re-creations, I think we should be sensitive to the various other historical possibilities. For example, the canoe as a colonial tool, the canoe as the embodiment of native spirituality, the canoe as luxury/craft item for the upper middle class (I’m thinking early 1900’s canoe production in the last case) or even in marginal cases the canoe as an object of sexual fetishism.

I guess I’m frustrated, taking into consideration the infinite constitution of the canoe, that we choose a very selective representation and promote it as a truism. It all seems so very unfortunate.


Benson Gray

Canoe History Enthusiast
Staff member
This is getting quite a bit removed from canoes but Jared Diamond has written a very good book titled "Guns, Germs, and Steel" that goes into great detail about the interactions between European explorers and native populations if you want to research this topic further. He doesn't cover Champlain or canoes specificly though.