POULSBO — In the hands of Richard Demain was a model canoe, one that he hand-crafted himself, which the Poulsbo Maritime Museum will use to introduce visitors to the earliest means of transportation on Liberty Bay.
The Suquamish Tribe presented the canoe model to the museum on July 14 to help tell the story of Poulsbo’s First People. Demain, Suquamish Chairman Leonard Forsman, Poulsbo Historical Society Board President Tom Henderson, and Mayor Becky Erickson stood together for photos as the model was put up for display.
“We’ve known this was coming for quite a while,” Henderson said. “We didn’t know what size it was so we couldn’t put a display together, but it turns out it’s just perfect.”
When the maritime museum opened two years ago, Forsman and members of the Tribe were given a tour. Forsman said he noticed a lack of visual displays in the museum’s section on Suquamish history.
“We saw the exhibit and we saw that it needed replicas,” Forsman said. “Because we saw they only had art books. We could relate to that. That’s how we started at our museum.”
Forsman later came to Demain and asked if he would be willing to make something for the museum. A few months ago, Demain came back to Forsman to show what he created.
“My brother-in-law, who is a famous artist, gave me a big drawing of his canoe,” Demain said as he revealed the model. “I scaled it down to this size here.”
The model is made out of cedar, which Demain said is an easy wood to work with. He also made paddles that are to scale. It took Demain about three months to complete.
Near the end of the presentation, Forsman sang a song for the museum and the Poulsbo community, drumming in a slow, rhythmic beat.
“The song is a prayer, a statement, a blessing and an acknowledgement,” Forsman said. “When you do those songs, you’re talking to your ancestors. You’re trying to bring their good feelings and relationships into the event.”
Judy Driscoll, curator and board secretary for the Poulsbo Historical Society and Museum, said that the canoe, as well as the rest of the display located at the entryway of the maritime museum, “symbolizes” the beginnings of maritime history in Poulsbo.
“Having the canoe there puts the focus back on the Suquamish,” Driscoll said.