The experienced Indian canoe-builder goes about his task with sure deftness, often with no shelter, and certainly no power tools or canoe mold to build his craft around. His final success is assured because he has the "feel" of his materials; he knows the natural stresses and shrinkages of green materials; he understands the allowances he must take to fashion a craft with the graceful, sweeping, curving lines that create the traditional symmetry of the Indian canoe. The secrets of the craftsman can only be learned with patience.
The finished Ojibwe birch bark canoe remains a work of natural beauty. The honey-colored bark and the irregular gummed seams and edges are pleasing to the eye, while the woodsy odor of the drying materials are tantalizing to the olfactory senses. The canoe still provides a severe test of the paddlers skill and balance. It's handling is regarded as a special art but, light and responsive, its mastery provides much pleasure and satisfaction; a link with the past for the future.