Threading the Needle
In Canada and the Great Lakes region of the United States, travel was by canoe. The difficulty of penetrating endless dense forests made the rivers and lakes veritable highways. Native Americans built birchbark canoes that were an engineering marvel and at the same time, a work of art. When the Europeans arrived they adopted the use of canoes and altered the designs to meet their needs. To serve the burgeoning fur trade, they manufactured freight canoes as long as 40 feet with a six foot beam.
In this painting, an independent trapper/trader maneuvers his birchbark canoe through a series of tumultuous rapids. He has been through here many times and knows exactly where he can make it through and avoid an arduous portage. The canoe is a light canoe of the Ojibwe long-nose style.