'Bushrat' presents...

antique model canoes

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welcome to my world

Rare, early, model canoes & kayaks from around the world .... vintage waterfowl decoys .... selected outdoor and sporting collectibles                          (last revised and updated 26 April 2015)
Hi, and welcome to my website; you are visitor number 
. Thank you for your interest in antique watercraft. If you have visited previously, you will find changes, including new, high resolution photos of collection items as well as of a number of pieces which are currently available for sale as I prepare to move. Please enjoy!

I'm the 'Bushrat'. I love canoes and kayaks, especiall
y smaller, older models - native-made as well as early factory-issue 'salesman's samples'. I've been studying, searching for and collecting them for almost 25 years. The reasons I do this are more fully explained on my 'Canoe History' page. Let me tell you briefly about a few of the more fascinating pieces.

My interest began with Native American Eastern Woodlands canoes such as this lovely 32" Atikamekw birch bark model with its exquisitely etched winter bark designs and well-built, traditionally correct interior features, made in 1932. A photo of it graced the cover of the Canadian Canoe Museum catalog for the "Canoe in Miniature" exhibit, 2008-2009.

It soon spread to Arctic kayaks, from Siberia all the way to Greenland. I was fortunate to come across this fabulous 38" sealskin covered piece below from the Belcher Islands, Hudson Bay, Canada, dating to around 1910. It was brought back south in 1916 by an early geological surveyor, Dr. Elwood Moore, Dean of Mining, University of Pennsylvania and, later, the University of Toronto, who just happened to be traveling with the famous documentary director Robert Flaherty, of Canada's National Film Board, who was shooting footage for his epic movie, "Nanook of the North".

I then moved on to dugouts from the Northwest Pacific coast. Here is an example of a 'Head canoe', a style which went extinct around the time of the white man's arrival off the British Columbia coast. Because the few remaining authentic, antique examples available are extremely rare and prohibitively expensive when they do turn up, I had this 24" replica built for me by Native American artist Jim Keefer, of Seattle. He did an outstanding job of carving and steam bending the hull in traditional fashion, then incising and painting intricate totemic designs on its sides.

Soon after, I began searching for Oceanic outriggers and sailing canoes from the South Pacific. Pictured below is another very fortunate find, an extremely rare double-hulled craft from Manihiki, Cook Islands, with its curious mother-of-pearl inlaid hulls which are lashed together so that they point in opposite directions. Yes, they actually were built this way, no mistake, and there are only a couple dozen or so similar pieces in some of the better museums. This one dates to about 1890. About 22" long, it has two masts and two identical woven fiber sails.

In between these finds, I even managed to collect a few pieces from Africa and S. America. At one point, I had gathered over 150 different examples from around the world. Plus an equal number of accessories - paddles, canoe cups, etc.

Shown below is another recent acquisition - an exceedingly rare 4-hole baidarka (sealskin covered kayak), 42", from the Norton Sound area of Alaska, dating to about 1900. It is one of a handful currently known to exist; a smaller 3-hole version can be found in the Alaska State Museum. This piece belonged at one time to Kirk Wipper, Founder of the Canadian Canoe Museum. Fabulous!!!

For the past ten years, I have concentrated on gathering the finest, most diverse collection of early North American canoe factory 'display samples' to be found. Here is a photo of some at
the Canadian Decoy & Outdoor Collectible Association annual show (2011). Many were exhibited at the Canadian Canoe Museum (2008-09), and at the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association 'Annual Assembly' (2012). More recently, they were on display at the 'Muskoka Boat Show', Gravenhurst, ON,  July 2014, at the ACBS annual gathering. They range in date from the 1870's to 1946, with most falling within the 'golden age' of recreational canoeing - 1880's to 1920's. Individual high resolution photos are on the 'Display Samples' page. I am interested in acquiring more such examples; if you have, or know of one for sale, please contact me. I am also adding to a data file concerning the identification/authenticity of such pieces. You are most welcome to contribute.

I have written articles for'Wooden Canoe' magazine, Feb. 2011, and 'Hunting & Fishing Collectibles' magazine, Mar./Apr. and May/June 2011 issues giving much background history on 'salesman's samples'. Color photos can be viewed on the Wooden Canoe Heritage Assoc. website: http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?7202-feb-2011-display-canoes-color-photos. The
WCHA is a non-profit organization devoted to "preserving, studying, building, restoring and using wooden and bark canoes". It is a wonderful, friendly group whose members share a passionate interest in all types of wooden canoes. Please consider joining: www.wcha.orgYou can follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/219179608982/.

Over the years, I was fortunate in meeting collectors who willingly shared their experience and knowledge, as well as steering me toward helpful reference sources. I managed to gain insight and believe in passing this along. I hope to encourage you to share my collecting passions.

Part of my efforts have involved helping museums and collector clubs put on displays and do identifications.
I have appraised significant donations for charitable tax receipts. In 2012, I had the wonderful experience of being a guest on two highly popular tv programs: "Pawnathon Canada"  and "Canadian Pickers". Repeats of those episodes are still currently showing; I hope you will enjoy them. Below, 'Pickers' Scott and Sheldon discuss the purchase of kayak and canoe models from my collection. Can be viewed at: www.history.ca/canadianpickers/video/full+episodes+s3/eye+spy/video.html?v=2298115851&p=1&s=dd#video. I also collect items associated with canoeing - such as this 101-year old Royal Doulton trophy cup from the Toronto Canoe Club - or other outdoor sporting activities, as well as vintage waterfowl hunting decoys and fishing items. Often these are found at antique shows and auctions. You might wish to visit some great sites like: midwestdecoy.org and www.canadiandecoy.com. Come out and enjoy one of our shows.

Collecting decoys and canoes has brought me deep friendships. These items have had not only historical and cultural lessons to teach, but provided memorable tales of how they came into my life and the truly amazing characters I have met. Even my dog was responsible for bringing two of the finest pieces into my possession.

Please feel welcome to offer information which adds to my knowledge base or corrects any mistakes I may have made. I am primarily a collector and acquirer, but do occasionally 'thin down' my collection to make room or pay for something new. See my 'For Sale' page. My prices are fair and in keeping with the rarity and quality of the item. Your satisfaction is completely assured; return privileges and
authenticity guaranteed.


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