deutsch | english

The Canoe

I decided to use a traditional birch bark canoe for my journey on the Yukon. Not only does it look good, but I wanted to encounter the paople along the river. There are over twenty villages and communities located on the banks of the Yukon, primarily in Alaska. This is traditional native territory belonging to the Athabascan Indians and Yup’ik Eskimos. Athabascans like the Gwich’in who also gave the Yukon its name, meaning big river, used birch bark to build their boats as well.

My idea was to meet these people in a traditional, authentic vessel, even if they have since switsched to aluminum boats. Maybe the canoe would also help to open doors and start a coversation. After some internet research I found Tom Byers who lives in the woods of Canada’s South East in a remote log cabin, that was built over 100 years ago, no running water or electricity, besides a smal solar panel to power a light bulb and his beloved record player.

We started building the canoe in mid-April, using only natural materials gathered in the woods and simple hand tools. Peeling bark, digging out jack pine roots for stitching, splitting and modifying cedar wood for the frame. After almost three weeks of constant work from sunrise to sunset our traditional Ojibwe Longnose Canoe is ready for its first test.

You can follow the steps of construction in the slideshow.