Building Scale Miniature Canoes by John Lindman

I just finished a 15 foot Ojibwe Longnose and then built a 7 1/2 ft half scale duplicate of it for a new hotel. While wrapping up the little guy it got me thinking, "The tendency with a little one is to quickie some of the steps but you can't. You have to maintain the same discipline and follow the same protocol as with the full size ones."

Building a miniature is therefore a great "first project" in bark canoe building. You must think through each step. The procedure for making a scale miniature is exactly the same as with the big one. Therefore if you can do a miniature you can do a full size canoe. There is simply more material to prepare and the time element of assembly is increased. Otherwise...

It is a convenient way to climb the learning curve. Some say they would like to take a class but don't feel justified in taking the time off. Others flinch at making mistakes on a a full size canoe with costly materials (costly in terms of time if gathered personally and money if purchased). With the miniature you can even start with manilla file folders for the bark and corrugated cardboard for the wood when working out the assembly process. Who can't waste that?

There is a great book that recently came out called, Bark Canoes The Obsession of Tappan Adney written by John Jennings. It photo documents Adney's collection of scale miniatures. In my opinion a properly done miniature looks like a full size canoe in photos and these certainly do that.

So the message here is that building your dream canoe in miniature allows you to make "miniature" mistakes and work through a "miniature" learning curve with a "miniature" investment of time and money.

If you have a burning desire to build a birchbark canoe then do it. Don't put it off. If you are bold you grab the book, The Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America, and just jump right into it. Go to the woods and get your materials and build a miniature. If you are like me and prefer an instructor and the woods in your area don't offer white birch, white cedar and spruce trees there still is a way to get started. Take the Home Study Course.

The Home Study Course walks you through the program with a video and booklet and provides you with the materials to prepare and then assemble a 2 foot miniature birchbark model. Everything is provided including a crooked knife. The cost is $110 US plus $18 for shipping and handling. Once you have built your miniature you can set your sites on a full size model.

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