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Thursday 5 July 2012

Canadian First Nations woodcarving tools and a beautiful treehouse cabin at Chimo refuge in Quebec

Hello again! It's been a while since my last post, but quite a lot has been going on. I recently spent a couple of weeks in Canada, mainly around Montreal in Quebec. While there, we travelled to Ottawa and visited the Museum of Civilsation. I was very impressed by the skill, scale and detail of the First Nations carvings on display there, particularly those from the West Coast.

These are original carver's tools on show there. The long-handled adze has a stone blade, which was common before contact with Europeans and access to steel. Sometimes tooth was also used as a blade, especially beaver tooth. Behind this adze is another, which is D-shaped and has a steel blade. In the front is a 'crooked knife', a versatile carving tool with a curved blade.

These images show the finish that a skilled carver could get using adzes. The canoe, made by carvers from the Tshimshian nation, has vertical lines of marks towards the centre and horizontal lines at the prow. The effect reminds me of the texture of woven cloth. The totem pole is in a museum in Montreal.

This image shows totem poles in the main hall of the Museum of Civilisation. It gives some idea of the scale of the poles...

Later in the trip, we stayed at the Chimo refuge in the Laurentian mountains, north of Montreal. The treehouse cabin that we were in was built by the owners with help from volunteers. It was beautifully constructed, with the tree clad in insulation inside to protect it from thermal shock when the cabin is warm in winter whilst outside it is bitterly cold.

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