Oldest Birch Bark Canoe found in British Barn

This story may inspire you to go clean out your own barn or shed.

The oldest known birch bark canoe was found in a barn on an estate in Cornwall, England. The Native American craft, originally from Canada, is estimated at about 250 years old.

An Ojibwe birch bark canoe in 1910. (Minnesota Historical Center)

During the American Revolutionary War, Lieutenant John Enys served with his British regiment in Quebec, Canada — then a British colony.

After his military campaigns, Enys is believed to have toured eastern Canada where he bought the full-size canoe and had it shipped back to England in 1776. The canoe may have come from the Maliseet people of New Brunswick.

Enys's descendants recently notified the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall about the craft. Despite being in two pieces in an estate barn, they suspected it might be a valuable artifact. Turns out, it's the oldest known birch-bark canoe in existence.

“It’s incredible to think its legacy has been resting in a barn in Cornwall all this time,” said Andy Wyke of the museum in The Globe and Mail.

The National Maritime Museum is now restoring and researching the canoe, with the help of the Canadian Canoe Museum. The British maritime museum will put the canoe on display next year, before returning it to Canada in the fall.

Read "Historic Canadian birch-bark canoe found among junk in British shed" in The Globe and Mail and "Rare Native American canoe discovered in Cornwall" in Yachting Monthly for more information and images.

via The Goat and Up Northica

Filed under: Gear News


775 reviewer rep
2,162 forum posts
December 28, 2010 at 4:34 p.m. (EST)

So very cool.

244 reviewer rep
5,239 forum posts
December 28, 2010 at 6:18 p.m. (EST)

Interesting, someone must have taken it back home aboard ship, I guess. 

denis daly
271 reviewer rep
1,866 forum posts
December 28, 2010 at 10:29 p.m. (EST)

I dont think cleaning my pole barn will lead me to any artifacts Alecia . maybe just a bunch of saw dust. But I did like the Articles and how both Historical Societies are working together to date and classify this canoe. I think both are looking at it as a cultural find on both sides of the globe. I also read they believe there is another in France? That's amazing! What is sad is that Canada itself has very few teasures I take it like this.

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