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Beware, canoes may soon be politically incorrect...

Discussion in 'Open Forum' started by Benson Gray, Oct 25, 2016.

  1. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

  2. Treewater

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    I am so sorry to hear this. Now if that nice person in Toronto will just get back to me I'll take that Peterborough off her hands and she'll feel good again not having a symbol of colonialism.
  3. David McDaniel

    David McDaniel Canoe Dude

    Wow! I find it difficult to consider myself as a "privileged white boy" paddling a wooden canoe in a world of bass-boats, jet-skis, and other power boats!

    Dave Wermuth and Gary like this.
  4. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Its amazing what Cl****** some people get paid for these days!

  5. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Hmmmm....perhaps her studies at University (I believe that is the proper syntax in Canada) did not include an introduction to native studies.
    Wait until she discovers kayaks!
    "Nanook, a-no-no
    Don't be a naughty Eskimo
    Save your money, don't go to the show"
  6. Jerry Van

    Jerry Van Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Just more people who make it their life's work to be insulted on behalf of others.
  7. Treewater

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    I think she is right. I think the politically correct thing to do is for all our cousins in Canada bring their canoes south of the border where they will be accepted as environmentally friendly. Be sure to drop a 15 ft Peterborough at my house. :)
  8. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    The question I have is, how did you ever find this "info" Benson? I'd never heard of that site.

    not Fox, the other one
  9. Mark Adams

    Mark Adams all wood nut

    Well,then. I guess I am un-PC as ****!!!
  10. OP
    Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I first found it referenced in a Canadian paddling article but it seemed to be just a regional thing. Further research showed that Fox and others had covered it so the topic was clearly getting international play. I then traced it back to the Heat Street article. A quick search for the title with comes up with 11,100 results so it is generating some discussion around the internet. The pictures at and indicate that the author of this statement appears to be white.

  11. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

  12. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    I believe the articles which Benson references in the lead post (#1 above) arose out of a CBC Radio program, "The 180", which aired in Vancouver last spring. The controversial remarks of Prof. Dean, made during that program while discussing her book and her personal views on the position of the canoe as a Canadian icon or emblem of colonialism and genocide, have evoked a number of outspoken, even angry responses. A very eloquent written reply was made by James Raffan, of the Canadian Canoe Museum - Well worth a read, and the best put-down I have seen of Dean's highly subjective and very un-scholarly conclusions. Raffan's response shows up the shallowness of the Professor's myopic thinking, and tears apart her conclusions piece by piece, all in gentlemanly fashion and indisputable superior intellect.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2016
  13. Treewater

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    I'd like to read it. Do you have a good link?
  14. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    this should work - - but in case it doesn't James Raffan's remarks follow:

    "Hearty congratulations to The 180 for putting the canoe in the crosshairs of radio. We’re well overdue for a critical examination of ‘the vessel without decks’, particularly in light of the findings of Justice Sinclair and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and especially as we prepare to mark Canada’s Sesquicentennial. Intrigued as I was by the piece and to the extent that I actually agree with some of what she had to say and laud her for saying it, in the end I found Professor Dean’s occasionally churlish analysis disappointingly narrow and thin.
    Canoes in public art and advertising from coast to coast to coast indicate that, as a symbol, this image, this idea has far broader appeal than might first appear. Tie that to canoes on coinage and paper money and on stamps going back at least a century, indicates a far more catholic and complex set of interrelated and overlapping messages—dare I say “narratives” — so tired of that word, why not just say “story,” or choose “palimpsest” which is more apt metaphor for a discussion such as this— linking to canoes in our (shared) indigenous heritage dating back to fur trade times and beyond, yes, but also canoes in sport, canoes as an industrial technology, canoes as a design element, canoes as transportation, canoes in recreation, and as an object of imagination and innovation.
    Records of the Wilderness and Canoeing Symposium (, held annually in Toronto, going back to the mid 80s show that gender balance of canoeophilia in that packed house is not nearly as male-skewed as Prof. Dean suggests, both on the presenter lists and in the audiences. Tie this to the alumni of the dozens of girls canoe tripping camps, some of which date back to foundings in the late 19th century and it makes the gender hegemony claim based on a wee bookie like Cairn Notes seem comically hyperbolic or even mean-spirited in its myopia.
    But what genuinely surprised me in its insult to First Nations was Prof. Dean’s apparent lack of awareness of the resurgence of great canoes on the West Coast. Since the mid-80s a program called Pulling Together (one of several similar programs across the country) has been employing canoes and canoe trips to bring together police and social service personnel with First Nation elders and youth as a vessel and context for new conversations and shared experience. And the impressive and inclusive Tribal Journeys that have been inspiring people up and down the West Coast, from Seattle to Bella Bella and beyond … those have been celebrating the resurgence of cultural pride and purpose since 1989, or so, with the canoe right at the center of the politics of reconciliation and renewal.
    And then, as you move east across the country, there are the Cree communities of central Saskatchewan, like Peter Ballantyne and Pelican Lake, who annually race big canoes as a youth development initiative. The prize for the winning team has been a hand made birchbark canoe made on the waterfront at Pelican Narrows. There is the Fort William First Nation, among others, that had a very successful bark canoe building program with their youth last summer.
    And on it goes, with the canoe inspiring cultural resurgence right across to places like Miawpukek in Newfoundland where Chief Misel Joe, tired of hearing the Miqmaq got to Newfoundland on the deck of a Basques sailing ship, decided to build a bark canoe and paddle it to Nova Scotia, which he and a crew did several years ago. They’re at work right now, making another canoe to paddle west in 2017.
    While we at the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough welcome the infusion of energy Prof. Dean has brought to the conversation, we feel that there is more to be said because, in this nation of rivers, the canoe has much to tell us about who we are and where we have been but it also has much to say about ‘being in the same boat’ and ‘pulling together’ toward a renewed and common future.
    What we need to do—and Prof. Dean has kick-started this process—is to do what poets do in making the familiar strange or the strange familiar. We need to examine the canoe as if for the first time, to put it under a jeweler’s loupe, to look again at both its liabilities and potentialities as a symbol. Yes, we need to find ways to come to terms with the ongoing legacy of conquest. If there is a truly Canadian idea, rooted in our shared historiography and geography, a vessel that can tell us about respect, relevance, reciprocity and, yes, reconciliation, it is surely the canoe."

    I trust James will not mind them being reprinted and shared here.
  15. Treewater

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Thank you. He writes well, thinks well, and has a positive attitude. He is a thinking person while the Prof. Dean shows the bigotry of a feeling person who for reasons of her own is obsessed with hate. Thank you again and really, I was unaware of the prominence of the canoe in Canadian culture.
  16. OP
    Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

  17. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    Several years ago, the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corproration), held a public 'vote-in' contest to select (from the minds of the people) the 'Seven Wonders of Canada'. The canoe was amongst those 7 finalists. So, I guess it is truly reflective about the way in which many Canadians do feel about our culture.

    James Raffan, in the quote above, has provided a very thoughtful and balanced response to the white professor's views on canoes, albeit from the perspective of a highly educated, erudite white Canadian, well-versed on the subject. One should also not overlook the equally thoughtful and sensitive response by Mike Ormsby, who replied to the issues of cultural genocide and the process of healing. Mike speaks from the Indigenous perspective, highly worthy of deep consideration - Mike said:

    "The canoe increased our reach to shape the Canada we know today, carrying many to otherwise inaccessible landscapes. The canoe was a gift from First Nations to the immigrants from distant lands who used inadequate modes of transport, reflective of a different worldview. It was a gift that allowed the newcomers to flourish and grow. Most certainly, the canoe played a pivotal role in our collective past but it also has a significant role to play in our future.

    The canoe worked with our geography to navigate waterways that connected people for trading and sharing. The shapes and patterns of each craft reflected individual personality, local culture and various functions, but often sharing the same general principles of design and construction. The canoe epitomized balance, strength, beauty, function and adaptability. It was built from various gifts of Mother Earth, shaped from the bounty of our wilderness, its design handed down through the generations, infused with spirit and responsible connections to a sustainable environment.

    Today the canoe continues to teach us. It offers us an opportunity to understand and celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of First Nations peoples. These contributions have long been absent from our historical narratives. It invites authentic questions and encourages connected thinking in a variety of different ways. It can serve as a catalyst for a transdisciplinary, wholistic approach that can offer meaning and insight into the values and worldviews of the people who created it. It provides opportunities to learn about each other.

    We need to refloat or right the canoe that is Canada, especially as we work towards reconciliation. This is both hope and challenge for us; what we strive towards as real possibility for a shared future; to remind Canadians that we're all in the same canoe and that to make this country work we should all be paddling together."

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2016
  18. Treewater

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    That just about sums up the entire dilemma facing mankind. Send Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump out in a canoe for five days. They'd both learn something.
  19. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    I'm not entirely convinced of that although it's certainly worth a try.........
  20. There have been further nails in the coffin in addition to the one referred to above:

    Canoe and Canvas: Life at the Encampments of the American Canoe Association, 1880–1910
    Jessica Dunkin
    University of Toronto Press, 312 pages, 2019
    ISBN-10 : 1487504764

    Canoe Nation: Nature, Race, and the Making of a Canadian Icon
    Bruce Erickson
    University of British Columbia Press, 2013, 252 pp.
    ISBN 978-0-7748-2248-0​

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