The Forgotten Art of Moosehide Canoes

There are tools and gear everywhere in the wall tent that Doug Smarch works in.  Some are modern pieces of equipment like hand planers, some are traditional tools that I have never seen before and others look like they were specifically built for this project.  As I approached the “workshop”, Smarch is pulling two, long spruce planks from a steaming plastic pipe, explaining that this is home-made wood steamer he invented for boat building.

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The Chinese New Year.

When I was younger, I looked forward to the Lunar New Year celebrations. My family got together every year to celebrate; it gave us an opportunity to eat a metric tonne of food and catch up with each other. The adults dined at their adults table, and the kids dined everywhere else; it was perfect. We also got these little red envelopes from the adults with money; the Vietnamese kid’s equivalent of a Christmas bonus, but in February.

Carving our past into the future.

When I think back to that summer in 2009, I cannot sum up the experience in a few short words. I can say that it was life changing and empowering, but that still wouldn’t be enough.So, instead I want to take you back to the beginning, when it all started. The journey began with one man who had a vision. An idea to create the first dugout canoe in the Yukon in over a hundred years; this man’s name is Andrew Finton. Back in the days when Northern Cultural Expressions Society (NCES) was known primarily as Sundog carving studios, I was part of a group of young emerging artists that worked every day on improving our carving skills. As time went on, Andrew brought master carvers in to work with us. It was one of those master carvers that made him think of the possibility of a dugout canoe. This master`s name is Wayne Price. Hailing from Haines, Alaska, he has been carving and designing dugout canoes for over thirty years.

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