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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Traveling the World to Build Canoes

I envy Will Meadows.

Will is a senior at Lawrence University (Appleton, WI), and with a $25,000 grant from the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, he's spending a year traveling, building and studying the construction of canoes with indigenous people around the world. 

I'm envious because a few years ago I was a finalist for a grant for a very similar project, but didn't make the final cut. But soon after Will was awarded the grant, he contacted me for advice and we had some productive (I hope) communications. His project was written up in the June 2012 issue of Wooden Canoe (published by the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association), and he plans to provide updates to that magazine during the coming year.
Meadows (right) and the native Uros men with whom he built the reed boat on Lake Titicaca.

Will's building and travel plans include:

  • Lake Titicaca: reed boat
  • Solomon Islands: Polynesian canoe
  • Zanzibar: outrigger dugout
  • Canada: bark canoe (working with Rick Nash and Pinnock Smith of the Algonquin First nation)
  • Norway: canvas skin-on-frame kayak (working with Anders Thygesen)

Will is documenting his progress in a well-written blog, which indicates that his boat- and canoe-related activities are by no means limited to the list above. For example, his latest post describes the construction and repair of expanded dugout boats on Bolivia's Rio Beni, a tributary of the Amazon River.

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