A visual Snapshot





Mi'kmaq Canoe

Mi'kmaq used the birch bark canoe as their chief means of transportation. These canoes were light weight, waterproof, and strong. They were easy to carry over land portage routes.

They Mi'kmaq canoes had rounded ends and wide bottom interiors. This strategic design helped in avoiding catching the wind which could make it difficult to maneuver the canoe. The raised gunwales protected the people from the waves.

The traditional Mi'kmaq birch bark canoes were built from outside in, with ribs being the last step in construction.

The bark of white and grey birch trees were sewn together with spruce roots and attached to the gunwales. Nearly 700 feet of spruce roots were used to make a 16 foot canoe. Spruce roots are stronger than ropes.

Once the bark was sewn to the gunwales, planking had to be inserted to allow for protection between the ribs and the bark. The ribs were friction fitted with the heat of the sun.

The sealing of joints was done with pitch, made of bear grease, hardwood ashes, and spruce gum.

It is believed that the traditional Mi'kmaq canoes would outlast its builder.

Mi'kmaq birch bark canoes were lightweight, sleek, and were suitable for freshwater and saltwater, i.e. rivers and the ocean.

Since Mi'kmaq moved from place to place, they were able to portage the canoes over land.


Image Source: Nova Scotia Archives

NB MI'kmaq group in canoe