Frank Marchand works on a cottonwood canoe at Quaaout Lodge.

Tradition continues at Quaaout

Frank Marchand is pretty sure his hands are never going to forgive him.

The member of the Okanagan Indian Band, along with Tanner Francois of the Little Shuswap Indian Band, spends hours every weekday at Quaaout Lodge creating two cottonwood canoes.

One is taking shape courtesy of modern, electrical tools while the other gets its much more rough look from the use of traditional stone tools. The project is part of the lodge’s planned anniversary celebrations.

The hotel is marking a quarter-century while the adjacent Talking Rock Golf Course hits a decade.

Plans are to dip those canoes into Little Shuswap Lake on June 21 — Aboriginal Day in Canada — to kick off a summer of events.

Local elders helped pick the tree that has now become canoes 25 and 14 feet in length (the longest is the one benefitting from electrical power).

“I was kind of hoping they’d pick a bigger tree,” Marchand said. “This one has lots of knots in it.”

It makes it a more of a challenge for the traditional canoe.

The contemporary canoe will be sealed with a fibreglass resin while the traditional will be treated with cooked linseed oil.

Marchand learned the craft from his father. Gordon Marchand created many hand-carved canoes and paddles that can be found throughout the B.C. Interior. He taught his son there is a right way to carve a canoe and there is a wrong way.

“When my dad made them, he would fill them with water and then put hot stones in and cover it with a canvas. This was to stretch it a half-centimetre at a time,” Marchand said.

In his younger years and not inclined to follow that painstaking process to widen a canoe, Marchand put in more rocks than he should have and cracked the canoe in half.

“I don’t think my dad talked to me for a year,” he said.

Cottonwood was chosen for many reasons. It grows tall and is plentiful in the Interior.

“And there’s no splinters. If you get a splinter from it, you’re doing something really wrong,” Marchand said.

The two canoes will be launched during Quaaout Lodge’s Aboriginal Day celebrations on Wednesday, June 21.

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