Tools

Caption Reg Davidson & Glen Rabena holding elbow adzes.

Photo: courtesy of Reg Davidson

© Reg Davidson


Red Cedar Log

A 40 foot red cedar log was selected and shipped from Haida Gwaii to the carving site in San Francisco.

Photo: courtesy of Reg Davidson

© Reg Davidson


hull

The shape of the hull is roughed out using elbow adzes.

Photo: courtesy of Reg Davidson

© Reg Davidson


Hull

Using smaller adzes and curved knives, the interior of the canoe is carved out.

Photo: courtesy of Reg Davidson

© Reg Davidson


Hull

To establish the thickness of the hull, small holes are drilled through the canoe. Pre-measured yellow cedar pegs are inserted. The inside of the hull is carved away until the ends of the pegs appear. The bottom of the hull is carved to a thickness of approximately three inches and the side to two inches.

Photo: courtesy of Reg Davidson

© Reg Davidson


Filled with Water

Once the hull has been carved to the desired thickness, the canoe is prepared for steaming. A large fire is built and rocks are heated until they are glowing red. The canoe is partially filled with water.

Photo: courtesy of Reg Davidson

© Reg Davidson


Reg with Drum

Prayers and songs are offered asking for assistance at this critical stage in the making of the canoe.

Photo: courtesy of Reg Davidson.

© Reg Davidson


Steam

The hot rocks are placed in the water in the canoe creating steam. This is done until the sides of the hull begin to soften. In this state, the sides of the hull are pulled out and shaped to achieve the classic Haida canoe form. This is a critical stage, as too little steam will not permit proper spreading of the hull, while too much steaming will cause the side of the canoe to fall open. Spreaders are placed between the gunwales and the hull is allowed to dry and harden into its final shape.

Photo: courtesy of Reg Davidson.

© Reg Davidson


carved ornaments

Separate bow and stern pieces are attached to the ends of the canoe, adding height and graceful lines to the dug-out body. Here, Reg Davidson is seen putting the finishing touches on the carved Raven on the bow .

Photo: courtesy of Reg Davidson

© Reg Davidson


paint

Then the canoe is painted.

Photo: courtesy of Reg Davidson

© Reg Davidson


Launch

Finally the canoe is launched for paddling in open water.

Photo: courtesy of Reg Davidson
the Old Massett Village Council's Economic Development and Heritage Resources, the Haida Gwaii Museum at Qay'llnagaay, and Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site.

© Reg Davidson


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe the importance of the canoe to current Haida society
  • Summarize the technology of building a Haida canoe

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