Collectable Treasures: canoes, paddles, and memories of the Ottawa River

By the Editor, Kitchissippi Times, July 16, 2018

I found it hanging on a wall in a small, local antique shop. It is a crudely made wooden canoe paddle that obviously served someone well over the years.

The owner thought enough of the paddle to paint the words Ottawa River on the blade and the date, presumably the year, “49”, at the base of the handle. I suspect it was made for use in a wooden canoe, which at the time would have been seen all along the Ottawa River. Another paddle I bought from a home in McKellar Park was likely made in the late 1800’s and the blade displays an oil painting of a campsite along the river.

(...)Centuries ago, the Ottawa was the major transportation route to the upper Great Lakes and beyond. This is the waterway that underpinned the life of indigenous people dating back thousands of years and which also supported Europe’s insatiable quest for beaver pelts in the 17thand 18thcentury, as championed by the Hudson Bay Company founded in 1621 and in 1779 by the North West Company. (The two competitors merged in 1821.) It was the humble birch bark canoe that provided the means to reach the fur-bearing regions of Canada and to transport the product back to Montreal and other points in East for shipment overseas.

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