Little Red Canoes - A Creative Idea Turns Sentimental And Heartwarming

Submitted by Daniel Marlatt in collaboration with Roxanne Carter and Margaret Cunningham

It’s been just over two months since I started the "lil red canoe" Project. What started as a simple idea of carving a canoe and sending it down the river has quickly turned into something much more. In the beginning, I set a goal of 99 little canoes for 99 days, committed to traditional environmentally friendly dying colour methods. Hence the "lil red canoe" Project was born on the Miskwaa Ziibi River (Ojibwa for Red River).

It’s been just over two months since I started the daily release of one little canoe at the water’s edge. The unexpected response has been simply overwhelming. I am grateful for the 115 people who have come out and set one free. Some came on their own, some as couples, some as a family and even larger groups. All came with their individual special reasons for taking part. The project will continue as I set one free every day. You may not see many new posts over the winter but I will continue my daily blog posts. 

The project took on a life of its own and is no longer just my project but yours too. Now my goal is 999 little canoes. I will continue for many months even years, for as long as I can. Thank you again to all my friends and new friends that supported my project and continue to do so.  #lilredcanoe #999lilredcanoes #trentlakes #kawarthas #kawarthalakes

Daniel Marlatt, photographer, mixed medium textural artist, owner of the Miskwaa Open Air Gallery, and board member of KLAC, embarked on the "lil red canoe" Project on July 11, 2019. People are invited to his gallery on the banks of the Miskwaa River to release one or more little red canoes.  Daniel creates each canoe out of white pine infused with red wine with pyrography applied on top. Each small canoe is numbered and measures 2” x 3/4”. As more people have become aware of Daniel’s project they have come from all over to release a canoe for a wide variety of reasons.  

The Miskwaa Zibi River, with a rich history of logging, is a spiritual place to the Ojibwa people who resided along its banks. Daniel experiences immense satisfaction sharing his creativity with whoever comes to his little piece of paradise.  The Gallery is open from May 1 to Oct 31 from 1pm - 4pm or by appointment. You can follow the project at: