Native American Heritage Month~ Explored Through the Adney Collection of Canoe Models

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Edwin Tappan Adney 1868-1950. Courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

Welcome to one of the Interpretation Department’s obsessions! The Edwin Tappan Adney collection at The Mariners’ Museum and Park include 120 canoe models. Adney lived from 1868-1950. He was from the United States but fell in love with canoes when he was on vacation in Canada at the age of 19. For Adney, building canoe models was not a hobby. He felt that it was his duty to document as many of the boats as he could. The models were made ¼ sized and sometimes ⅕ sized. He learned some of the building methods from Native builders. For example, Frank Atwin, Passamaquoddy, was one of his teachers. This is an outstanding photograph, showing the size of the models. 

Adney’s plan was to use the models to illustrate a book about the canoes. Unfortunately, the Depression meant that there were no backers for his idea. He then attempted to sell the models to several different museums, but again, he had no takers. Adney ended up using them as collateral for a $1,000 loan. The Museum’s buyers heard about this, paid off the loan and the $424 interest (!). Upon his death, Adney’s son donated all his papers, notes, sketches, and writings to the Museum.    Read more