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Students walking on campus

Students Explore the Maine Coast in the Classroom before Paddling the Sheepscot River in Handcrafted Canoes

A group of students enrolled in the Maine Coast course along with Mr. Tahan and Mr. C. Schneider traveled to Maine on June 7-8 with their handmade canoes. The overnight trip includes camping on Powderhorn Island and paddling the Sheepscot River in Boothbay.

The Maine Coast: A Cultural History is one of Belmont Hill’s inquiry courses. Inquiry courses focus on a specific theme and combine different approaches and materials, to raise key questions about what we know and how we know it.

The coast of Maine has developed a rich history and unique culture from the time of its indigenous settlements, to its early history as a European fishing outpost, to its ascendancy as a shipbuilding center, to its most recent role as an anti-city, an escape from the context of urban America. The course begins with a study of the literature, art, history, and geography that help us understand the unique culture of the Maine coast. In the second half of the course, students build Dacron skin on wood canoes which represent a blend of Native American design, New England boat-building practices, and 20th century materials. To conclude the course, students take the canoes on a two-day journey along a section of the coast to understand the geography and the unique culture that has grown up along its shores. The boats are designed to be constructed by amateurs with no previous wood-working experience and take 60-80 hours to build.


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