This is the story of the canoe, that singular American artifact so little changed over time. Featured here are canoes old and new, from birch bark to dugout to carbon fiber; the people who made them; and the adventures they shared. With features of technology, industry, art, and survival, the canoe carries us deep into the natural and cultural history of North America.
Frank S. Nicholson, poster for the National Park Service, c. 1936–1940. This poster is from the NYC Art Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which sponsored artists of almost all stripes during the Great Depression. Nicholson was among almost ten thousand artists who were supported by the WPA’s Federal Art Project.
Groups interested in preserving canoe country from development sprang up all over the continent. Canoes were often used as images of a free and quiet outdoors experience, including this poster with artwork by Francis Lee Jaques, ca. 1949.