Birch Bark Canoes
Younger boys help build replicas of authentic birch bark canoes using many of the same materials and tools of the late 1800s.
A balcony loft at University School's Shaker Campus has been transformed into a mini boatyard filled with wood, tree bark, and tools. Here, Lower and Middle School students can assist in building replicas of birch bark canoes that were used by Native Americans and fur traders in the late 1800s. Led by Terry Harmon, the school's legendary outdoor education teacher, students faithfully use many of the same materials, construction methods, and tools used by the Algonkin Indians and others living in Ontario and the northeast United States to build these majestic canoes.
The curriculum lends itself beautifully to this project, which supports Grade 3 studies of Native Americans and Grade 6 studies of the Great Lakes and the French exploration of North America. The best part of the experience for the boys, however, is the opportunity to go for a ride on the canoe they helped to build on the school's own Lake Kilroy at the Hunting Valley Campus.