M133 | Model canoe

Model canoe
Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Woodlands
Aboriginal: Mi'kmaq
1900-1913, 20th century
Birchbark, spruce root, porcupine quills, aniline dyes
4.1 x 4.1 x 19.6 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Model (422)
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Keys to History

Miniatures were also appreciated as toys, for children big and small -- Among the Mi'kmaq, miniatures also had spiritual significance: they believed that some small-scale replicas had the characteristics and the power of the larger objects. These miniature canoes, for example, are replicas of full-size ones, which were strong enough for use on the ocean and in rivers.

The Mi'kmaq were among the most skilled Aboriginal mariners in Canada. Their canoes were well adapted for use on the open ocean. Mi'kmaq paddlers travelled across the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the North Shore, to the Îles de la Madeleine and to the southwest coast of Newfoundland, as well as along the coast of New England.

  • What

    This miniature canoe of about 20 cm in length is made, like its larger Mi'kmaq counterpart, of birchbark sewn with spruce root. It is decorated with porcupine quills.

  • Where

    This canoe comes from Nova Scotia.

  • When

    This canoe was made between 1900 and 1913, and was acquired not long afterwards by David Ross McCord.

  • Who

    The Mi'kmaq artisans who made full-size canoes often also made the small models. The elements of a canoe were calculated using a measurement system based on the size of certain body parts (a hand's width, an arm's length, etc.)