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Tete de Boule

Ken Birss

Tete de Boule


About the Artist

Ken Birss is an artist/canoe builder currently residing in Canmore, Alberta. He flew bush planes in northern Canada for more than 40 years and helicopters in the Bow Valley before retiring. His time is now spent painting representational landscapes of the local area and building traditional historical canoes and canoe models. Works by Ken were recently shown at the Canmore Art Guild's exhibition July, 2019.

Comments on the Work

Ken Birss' work in the collection is a traditional Algonquin canoe model 7.5 x 43" and made of birch bark and cedar completed according to historical blue prints from the early 19th century. The canoe is of a tetes de boule design which was common around the Ottawa area in the early 19th century. Tetes de boules, means the Roundheads they were an Algonquin tribe well known for canoe making during the early fur trade. The materials Ken used are birch bark from Ontario and northern white cedar all of which were cut, split and bent by hand. The canoe has no seats, which was traditional as indigenous paddlers sat or knelt in their canoes keeping their centre of gravity low a typical 15' canoe could carry two people and up to one ton of weight. The work is a beautiful replica of a Algonquin canoe and makes a wonderful addition of a model canoe to the McCreath Canoe Collection.

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