World's Oldest Birchbark Canoe...maybe

Murat V

LOVES Wooden Canoes
The net's been abuzz with the rediscovery of an old canoe from an estate in Cornwall, UK.



Apparently, it is thought to be more than 250 years old and was brought to Cornwall by Lt. John Enys who fought in Quebec during the American War of Independence.

Until now, I believe the earliest surviving bark canoe was the famous Grandfather Akwetin canoe, a 6 meter Maliseet Ocean canoe estimated to be 185 years old and "re-discovered" in Ireland.

Apparently no one definitively knows this new canoe's tribal origins, but I thought there was a resemblance in the stem profile and gore cut pattern to the Penobscot canoe mentioned in the online article in the literature sections of the site


It'll be headed to the Canadian Canoe Museum for more research and possible display in September 2011...exciting stuff for us bark canoe lovers!
Last edited:
John Enys

There is a fair bit on John Enys in wikipedia:

Also his journal was published:

The American Journals of Lt. John Enys, John Enys and Elizabeth Cometti (editor), Syracuse University Press 1976

The 29th Regt O' Foot is famous or infamous around these parts for their role in the Boston Massacre, 1770, although John joined the regiment after this event.
Last edited:
Thanks to those who posted about this find-- I love the whole story, from the officer's decision to take a canoe home with him to the repatriation to Canada. And the canoe looks wonderful!
Thanks for the correction

I was wondering why the picture looked like an intact canoe when the article said that it was in two pieces.
The Enys Birchbark Canoe

There is a very well done story by Henri Vaillancourt documenting this canoe in the latest edition of WoodenBoat. September/October 2011, Number 222.