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Canoe Styles



Birchbark canoes were built in a wide variety of styles and sizes.  These ranged from small, one person hunting canoes to the large voyaging canoes of the fur trade which commonly carried a dozen paddlers and a few tons of cargo.  This page presents examples of some of the documented canoes styles made by different Native groups as well as some of the fur trade style canoes.  We will be adding to this page over time.

Fur Trade Canoes

The canoes used during the Fur Trade in North America were a direct outgrowth of the Native birchbark canoes, probably originating as a modification of the Algonkin style canoe.  These canoes are commonly called voyaging canoes and were built in a range of rather standardized sizes depending on the conditions they were intended to be used in.

Montreal Canoes were the largest of the voyaging canoes.  These were usually about 33 to 26 feet in length and were used on the larger waterways of the main trade routes.  These canoes could carry a total weight of 7,000 to 9,000 pounds, including the paddlers.

The Bastard Canoe was about 28 to 33 feet in length and had a capacity between that of the Montreal Canoe and the North Canoe.

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Lines of a 29' 11" Bastard Canoe

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Photo of a 28" 9 1/2" Bastard Canoe

The North Canoe was the most used canoe in the interior waters.  It was usually about 24 to 28 feet in length and could carry a total of about 3,000 pounds, including the crew.

The smallest voyaging canoe was the Half-Sized or 16-Piece Canoe.  It usually was about 18 to 24 feet in length.

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Lines of a 20' 1" 16-Piece Canoe

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Photo of a 20' 9 3/4" 16-Piece Canoe



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Last modified: January 09, 2001