Birchbark Canoe

William Hafeman1974

National Park Service, Centennial One Object Exhibit

National Park Service, Centennial One Object Exhibit

Crafted in the traditional style.

William Hafeman was a northern Minnesota homesteader who learned the craft of birchbark canoe building from his Ojibwe neighbors. He was commissioned to build this 26' canoe in the fashion of a voyageur "North canoe" or canut du nord by the National Geographic Society for the park established along a route of the fur trade - Voyageurs National Park. Using the traditional materials of large sheets of birchbark for the hull, cedar for the ribs, and spruce root and sap to sew and seal the seams, Mr. Hafeman created a replica of the watercraft that was the only practical vehicle to conduct the fur trade in a rugged frontier. This lightweight canoe was easily carried over portages, yet could hold three tons in cargo. In the heyday of the fur trade, the area that is now the park was a canoe-building center due to the abundance of birchbark.

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  • Title: Birchbark Canoe
  • Creator: William Hafeman
  • Date Created: 1974
  • Contributor: Voyageurs National Park
  • Place of Manufacture: Bigfork, Minnesota
  • Park Website: Park Website
  • National Park Service Catalog Number: VOYA 3
  • Measurements: L 7.9, Beam 1.4 m
  • Material: Wood, leather


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