Harvey Golden shows off his wooden kayaks.
Even in the heart of Portland, you’ll find yourself imagining icebergs looming and polar bears clawing their way across snowy islands. At the Lincoln Street Kayak and Canoe Museum, 52 traditional watercraft, most inspired by ancient boats from Greenland and the Arctic, speak of artistry born of necessity.
Here, says founder Harvey Golden, is an 18-foot-long West Greenland–style kayak from the mid-16oos, built super slender so hunters could paddle swiftly and silently while setting out to harpoon seals. Here is an Inuit-style kayak, fatter and sturdier, shaped to carry a small sled used to cross ice floes. And here is another replica Inuit kayak, this one covered entirely in deer hide.
Golden built nearly every boat here after making research trips to Denmark, Finland, Greenland, and Norway. “I was impressed that people in kayaks hunted such formidable animals—caribou and walruses and even polar bears,” he says. He’s built 75 replicas over 20 years, making a virtue of an obsession: His is the nation’s only kayak and canoe museum. Open 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, and by appointment. (503) 234-0264, traditionalkayaks.com.
Photography by Robbie McClaran
This article was first published in January 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.