CBC British Columbia
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Beach Canoe


bc-carving-nixon-net.jpgNow here's a bit of detective work for you to work on.  B.C.'s Lieutenant-Governor, Steven Point, was walking along a Victoria beach last year when he came across an old log.   Someone had obviously been working on it - trying to carve it into a canoe.  But from all the wear and tear and rocks embedded in it, the job had clearly been abandoned decades ago.

Point's friend Tony Hunt - who knows his canoes - suspects it has been bouncing about from beach to beach for 50 years.   Together, they are making an amazing carved canoe from the old relic and that is the subject of this story. 

But, it makes you wonder who worked on the old log first?  50 years is a long time, and probably the only people who would have had the skill to make a cedar canoe back then were First Nations carvers.  But which one?  And how did it get lost?


Well here's a clue, folks.  While looking for pictures of old canoes in the CBC Vancouver film archives, I came across the following entry from April 23, 1960 under the title "Ancient Art Revived" 

"Plywood, metal and plastic may be fine materials for modern boats, but 90-year old Abel Charlie, a member of the Cowichan Indian Band, prefers a cedar log, as his people have for ages. He has split a four-foot thick log and intends to make two dugout canoes from it. Each of them will be about 20-feet long, bigger and according to him, better than the plywood runabout his grandson displayed earlier. The younger man will be taught what his grandfather considers to be a fading art. However, Abel Charlie says that he'll do all the chipping by himself, although he hasn't made a dugout for many years. He has to rest often, but expects to finish the first canoe within about six weeks."

I have yet to see the film - it has to get transferred to digital format first.   But I wonder if Abel Charlie finished those canoes.  It not, one can imagine an unfinished log somehow making its way down the coast to that beach, to be found by the Lieutenant-Governor decades later.  And if it is not Abel Charlie's log - then whose is it?  I need help here folks.  Point's Project icon_video.gif

(Big Update - I found this gem from a great website on the history of Cowichan Bay -

"The Peck family were the later day merchants in Cowichan Bay.

Peck's Market eventually became the trading hub of the area. The store is the present location of the Cowichan Bay Fish Market.

One of the more memorable patrons of the store was Josie Lemo and her husband Abel Charlie. Even in her late 90's she used to row her dugout canoe with her husband (who was over 100) to the store for goods. A good story is told about her taking a fancy to a Scottish Kilt. She had to have it, even though it was far to small for her. But, a suitable method of fastening it was devised and she rowed off happily. A fairly rotund Indian lady in a Scottish Tartan!"

Here's the link:  http://cowichanbay.net/cowichanbayhistory/