In Pictures: The vanishing art of making a sturgeon-nosed canoe
By David F. Rooney Shoppers at Saturday’s Farmers’ Market had an unexpected treat: a chance to see master canoe builder Wayne Louie create a classic sturgeon-nosed canoe. So named because its bow and stern resemble the snout of a white sturgeon. This kind of watercraft once plied the rivers and lakes of Southeastern BC. Now it is rarely seen.
“I’m probably the last Ktunaxa making sturgeon-nosed canoe,” said Louie, who came here from Creston with apprentice Iris Caye to create a canoe for the School District 19 Aboriginal Education Committee. “I learnt from when I was a young boy. I learnt from my elders.” Sadly, although he has an apprentice in the person of Iris Caye, no young people he knows of are interested in learning how to build this kind of canoe in the old way. In fact, Louie said he thinks his craft might vanish after he passes from this world. His canoes are hand-made with sheets of water-resistant white pine bark, maple and cedar lathes lashed together with cedar roots, and bitter cherry bark. There are no metal or plastic parts in the finished product. “I’m going to retire this year,” he said. “Over the next five years I’m going to talk to elders about (trying to preserve this ancient art).” Local students helped them create the framework of the canoe at RSS last week. Then Wayne and Iris put in hours of work at the market to largely complete the canoe. They have some finishing touches to add to it and will return to Revelstoke in a couple of weeks to present it to RSS. You can learn more about Wayne Louie and his art at his website. There is also a video about Wayne’s sturgeon-nosed canoes at the end of the photo feature. Here are the photos of Wayne and Iris working at the Farmers’ Market that I hope you’ll enjoy: