Bark Canoes: The Art and Obsession of Tappan Adney

Front Cover
Firefly Books, 2004 - Sports & Recreation - 152 pages
1 Review

The definitive reference to indigenous peoples' watercraft around the world.

Tappan Adney (1868-1950) was an artist, writer, ethnographer, historian and modelmaker of unparalleled ability. He tirelessly documented the cultures and languages of vanishing native cultures. His most enduring legacy is the extraordinary 110 birchbark canoe models he handbuilt to exacting standards. The models, now held at The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia, were built to ensure future canoe builders had exact reproductions for reference.

These historically accurate, 1:5 scale models were meticulously researched, and traditionally constructed using the identical materials of the originals. Many are based on canoes that were the last example of their type. Before such a canoe disintegrated, Adney measured and recorded its dimensions, consulted with native builders and studied historical photographs and paintings.

The canoe models are organized into eight distinct groups:

  • Maritimes
  • Eastern Woodland
  • Northwest
  • Lower British Columbia
  • Fur Trade
  • Amur Valley
  • Asia
  • South America

Each canoe model is beautifully photographed and accompanied by captions that outline the craft's origins, uses and technical details. Adney's amazing technical drawings for the models are also included.

An extensive introduction covers Adney's life and provides information about native model builders, canoe decoration and fur trade heraldry.

Bark Canoes is the definitive reference to indigenous -- and ingenious -- watercraft used around the world.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - maritimer - LibraryThing

This is a striking book with beautiful photographs of the 1:5 scale model canoes built by Tappan Adney between the years 1887 and 1950. These are mostly birch bark canoes and they are now housed at ... Read full review

Bark Canoes: The Art and Obsession of Tappan Adney

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Edwin Tappan Adney (1868-1950), an American-born naturalist who lived most of his life in Canada, researched, designed and built an unparalleled set of less-than-full-size bark canoe models, 110 of ... Read full review


Canoe Models
How an Indian BirchBark

1 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2004)

John Jennings is an associate professor at Trent University, a specialist in frontier history and editor of The Canoe: A Living Tradition.

Bibliographic information