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A Rich and Ancient Heritage

It is difficult to overstate the role that small watercraft played in the early history of Canada. European explorers and settlers who arrived here by ship in the 16th century implicitly understood the essential value of small boats for basic transportation. Once ashore and travelling inland, they soon learned from Indigenous Peoples the functional qualities and effective use of the open canoe as a means of communication and trade. It was during the formative centuries, as the Europeans were introduced to, and came to rely on, the vast network of rivers and lakes in this country, that the enduring relationship between small watercraft and the Canadian experience first took hold among the newcomers. In the second half of the 19th century, Canadians began the commercial manufacture of various versions of the open canoe and other wood boats for recreational use; their popularity and appeal owed much to this rich and ancient Canadian heritage.

Employees of the Herald Bros. Canoe Co. factory, Gore's Landing (Rice Lake), Ontario, ca 1895. (CSTMC)