CANOES (Historic Information)
On this timber-covered shore, where the larger part of the food comes from the sea; where the forest is so dense that migration is obstructed; the mountains too high to climb and the wind and tides so useful for motor power, the canoe becomes the most useful of the Indian's possessions.
Tales and traditions of these Indians associate the canoe from the beginning. At first they must have been made with the stone ax or chisel, then hardened copper, ivory and bits of iron.
It was necessary to fell the tree and convey it to the shore, then to dig out the interior and nicely round the sides, until it became a thin shell, when it was filled with water and hot stones placed into the water until it was boiling, and when well steamed and softened it was warped and braced in graceful lines to glide over the water with the least resistance.
These canoes are in all sizes from baby dimensions for children or one person up to war canoes large enough for 100 men. We used one large enough for 50 men last year for cruising along the shores of Alaska, propelled by a gasoline engine. I believe there are almost as many of these canoes on this coast as there are Indians.
A squaw in one of them could make a Cornell oarsman in a Peterborough "go some." Man, woman and child fit to them as though they were a part of the craft.
Everywhere they look the same, everywhere the same neat, ad-like prints in straight rows show how carefully and same-like they are made. Old canoes, made generations ago before white man's tools were obtained, appear the same as now.
Some of the potlatch bowls and totem poles show similar construction and marks of that universally used hand-adz.