|The Annie C Log Canoe|
From colonial times until the early 1900’s, the log canoe was the basic mode of transportation on the Eastern Shore. Its origins go back to the native Indians who would cut down a tree and hollow it using hot coals to burn into the log and then scrape the charred wood out with clam shells and beaver teeth. The colonists had the advantage of iron tools, axes and adzes. Over time they wanted larger and more stable canoes and started using two or more trees spiked together with iron rods.
During the colonial times, roads were few and far between. One of the most efficient modes of transportation was by water, and the log canoe was a sturdy and inexpensive means of providing water transportation. It also provided a means of making a living off the water harvesting seafood. In the book, “Parson of the Islands”, by Adam Wallace, the parson, Joshua Thomas, a preacher in the early 1800’s used his log canoe, The Methodist, to spread religion alone the Eastern Shore. The watermen of the time used their log canoes for oystering, crabbing, and hauling produce. The log canoe was the pickup truck of its time.
The Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society is fortunate to have what is probably the largest log canoe still in existence, the Annie C, built in 1904. At 45 feet long from stem to stern, not including the bow sprit, and with a 9 ½ foot beam, one may wonder why she is called a canoe. The reason for this is that the term canoe refers to a boat that is double ended; it has a sharp bow and a sharp stern. The reason she is a log canoe is that her bottom was carved from logs. Log canoes come in many sizes. Some are made from three logs but they have been made from up to seven logs. The Annie C is made from five logs, but the logs used in the Annie C were larger than most, some being nearly three feet in diameter. The diagram below shows how the Annie C was constructed. The logs formed the bottom of the hull and the sides were built up from regular lumber, pieces called risers or rising wood.
Come to Ker Place in Onancock and see a piece of history, the log canoe Annie C.
Sources:M. V. Brewington, “Chesapeake Bay Log Canoes and Bugeyes”
Edward Eggleston, “Stories of American Life and Adventure”
H. S. Holcomb, line drawings of the Annie C.
Adam Wallace, “Parson of the Islands”