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Dugout Canoe project at Exploration Place will make a splash at the Northern Hardware Canoe Race

A 10-thousand pound cottonwood log has undergone a startling transformation at Exploration Place this week. The sound of axes on wood has been a staple all week as Robert Frederick and various volunteers carved a dugout canoe from a 10-thousand pound cottonwood log donated by Fortwood Homes.

“We got a lot of good volunteers, coming down to give a hand,” says Frederick. “We’ve also got a really good log, nice and green and it was just freshly dropped.”

It’s not the first dugout Frederick has carved and he already has plans for more.

“This is the 5th one. We’re thinking that we wouldn’t mind to build one, another project. Same manner as this one here but we’d get the help of all the young people if we could swing it.”

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The current dugout project is nearly complete.

“We gotta keep the water in it and put all those chips back in it when we’re done. And we’ve got to keep the boards in it so it doesn’t start to curl on us. We’ll keep it one more night.”

Tomorrow, the canoe will be launched into the Nechako for the Northern Hardware Canoe Race – possibly the first dugout canoe entered in the event. After it’s maiden voyage, the canoe will become part of Exploration place’s newest exhibit – Path of the Paddle.

“It’s exploring the history of the canoe in our regional district,” says curator Alyssa Tobin. “It’s an exhibit that moves in a linear fashion through time starting with First nations and the dugout canoe and its many transformations after the arrival of Europeans in the area.”

Tobin says it’s pretty much impossible to overestimate the impact the canoe has had on the area.

“The Lheidli T’enneh spent most of the year travelling to different locations in their territory and their main method of transportation was the canoe. And then, until the advent of steamship technology, canoe travel was frequently the most available and the fastest method open to Europeans as well.”

The exhibit’s soft launch is Sunday, July 10.

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