Silent Film - "Nipigon Trails" from 1923

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Came across a neat bit of tripping footage from 1923. Film is silent but sometimes that is better. Great white water runs and confident paddlers!

 

Glenn MacGrady

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Great video. I love historical stuff. It's interesting that the Indian guides did not use the back paddling technique in rapids that was so common in in the northeast USA up until the mid-20th century.
 
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Murat you find such treasures! I was well along in the film before I realized that they had to have a cameraman with the huge cameras of the era, sited before the the canoes came into view. What do you suppose constituted a camera crew; at least two? What an undertaking, and all packed by (of course) the hired crew.

There is a little human cameo near the end: the river has smoothed out and the camera is on a high bluff looking down, (a lot of work to get it up there) and the stern paddlers in two of the canoes raise a 'rooster tail' of water with their paddles! My first reaction was that's an inefficient way to paddle, what's going on? And then I realized that probably the two stern men wanted to say "That's me there!" if they and their families ever got the chance to see the finished production.

Thanks for bringing this to us!

Rob
 
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The paddling technique then was indeed inefficient. Emphasis was on the "push" delivered by the upper hand, with no apparent thought of torso rotation. Recently someone here shared a link to a book about canoeing and camping 100 years ago. That upper-hand-push method was described in detail.
 
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The paddling technique then was indeed inefficient. Emphasis was on the "push" delivered by the upper hand, with no apparent thought of torso rotation. Recently someone here shared a link to a book about canoeing and camping 100 years ago. That upper-hand-push method was described in detail.
That might be true, but I'll bet any of those regular river guides would have buried us in a straight out race. I found their river running fairly consistent with current Canadian styles. Lots of draws and cross bow draws. My understanding is that Americans prefer bow pries to crossbow strokes. Indeed, the last flat water level A course I saw, Cross bows never even made it to the lake.

I'm a fan of history from that time. There was one head river guide, Jimmy Swain, a metis fellow of 65, who organized the treaty # 9 canoe trip from Lac Seul to James Bay in 1905. At 65, he carried 600 pounds over a 400 meter port, apparently at a jog. Similar feats of strength were common among my grandfathers people on the East Coast, things like carrying 650 pound anchors after a couple of pints. Efficiency has brought us a lot of new speed records, but my general feeling is that "they don't make em like they used to".
 
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The push delivered by the upper hand is alive and well. I was working on my hit and switch with some racers (not that I want to race) .. Key was POW er forward and down.. Shawn Burke and Harry Rock were helping me. So that part still exists..

Mem I haven't seen a single American work whitewater with a bow pry.. Its an unbraced stroke.. Its a hoot on the flats with not much place in moving water. Cross strokes I think are far more common here, especially with narrow solo canoes or any tandem.

As an aside ,, what is a flatwater A course? Cross bow strokes are taught in Introduction to Canoeing in the ACA curriculum.
http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.americancanoe.org/resource/resmgr/sei-courses/l1_ic_skills.pdf

The other thing that struck me was the tow.. the lines just attached to the bow and a "live weight " near the stern of each canoe.
 
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Hmmmm, don't know where I picked up that info Yellow, must have been one of my errant Canadian canoe instructors. ORCKA seems to change its requirements frequently, think the last Level A tandem course i saw focused on pries, sideways travel, entry and exit, canoe over canoe, maybe a draw too. I'll bet those fellers in the movie put in a lot of miles every year.
 
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