Traditional Birch Bark Canoes 
Henri Vaillancourt

About the Builder


    Henri Vaillancourt has been self employed builder of birchbark canoes for over 32 years. In that time he has built more than 120 canoes ranging in size from small 9' hunting canoes to the large 24' cargo canoes like those used during the fur trade era. His work has been sought by discriminating collectors throughout the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan. His customers include Michael Eisner - Disney, Edgar Bronfman - Seagram's, Bill Ruger - Ruger Fire Arms, Tasha Tudor - Writer/Artist, Ohchi Canoes Museum - Shimane-Ken Japan and Epcot Center - Disney World.

    Vaillancourt's canoes have been chosen in competition for exhibits such as Craft Multiples presented at the Renwick Gallery of the National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution. Exhibited there form 1975 to 1976 and then circulated throughout the USA until 1979. His canoes were displayed at the Hand Wrought Object Exhibit at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University and, also, the Sur Bois Exhibit at Franco-American Centre Manchester New Hampshire. The Sur Bios Exhibit is presently circulating throughout New England and is scheduled to travel to Europe.

    Henri has done live demonstrations at the American Folklife Festival presented at the US Pavilion by the Smithsonian Institution during the Man and His World Exhibition - Worlds Fair in Montreal, at the Ohchi Canoe Museum in Shimane-Ken Japan, and at the Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic Connecticut.

    His work has been featured in numerous books and publications such as, The Wood Ship by David Larkin, Building the Maine Guide Canoe by Jerry Stelmok, Wooden Boat Magazine, Field and Stream, Yankee Magazine, and Readers Digest Book - Back to Basics among others.

    Since 1965 Henri has been actively involved in the study of birchbark canoe construction and other aspects of Native material culture. In 1977 he and Todd Crocker founded the Trust for Native American Cultures and Crafts a non-profit organization dedicated to the recording and perpetuation of northern Native American material culture. Since that time they have collected hundreds of hours of video and thousands of color and black and white stills of bark canoe construction, snowshoe making, hide tanning, clothing and tool manufacturing. Edited programs of some of these skills including bark canoe construction, are available through the Trust for Native American Cultures and Crafts.