Longhouse - Work Area

Final Hull Reduction

The next stage involved moving the canoe to the carvers' village to complete the final shape and develop the hull symmetry that is required for a canoe to be a stable and easily-controlled craft. The interior of the canoe was then reduced, using tools such as the adze , chisel , and maul , until the desired thickness of the canoe sides was reached. This thickness could vary from two fingers for the side and three fingers for the bottom for a large canoe, all the way down to a single finger's width along the sides and two fingers' thickness on the bottom for a small river canoe. A master carver could establish the correct thickness just by tapping and feeling the hull.

The last major alteration to the canoe hull was to widen the beam of the boat. The use of steam to bend the beam of the boat into the correct position allowed the wood to be more easily manipulated. The steam process involved filling the canoe one-third to half-full of water, and then adding very hot rocks to the water to raise the temperature to a near boil. The water in the canoe was then splashed up the sides of the canoe, expanding the wood and forcing it outwards. Thwarts were added to the canoe once the desired beam width was reached. This was an important step, as it was a major determinant of the duration of the carving process. Smaller canoes could be carved initially, and then bent into a larger shaped hull. The strength and the rigidity of the hull were increased when the thwarts were added to keep the boat from returning to its pre-steamed shape.

Carving the entire canoe from a single log was not the only method used by the Stó:lō people. Sometimes a tree was fallen that was semi-rotten and that would not allow for the production of a canoe with a large bow. In this case, composite canoes were created; generally, these types of canoes were found on the outer coast, but were not entirely limited to that area. Despite the extra effort involved in creating an extra bow and fixing it to the canoe hull in a watertight manner, this process likely took a similar amount of time to that required to fully carve a one-piece canoe, as the rotten centre reduced the amount of time involved in carving out the interior of the hull.

Images

(48.5 KB)The final steps in creating a canoe.
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