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Trapping Boats of Lake Champlain - Gallery Talk by Douglas Brooks

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Producer: 
03/26/2015

A talk by master boatbuilder, historian and writer Douglas Brooks who's research was featured in the Frog Hollow, March 2015, exhibit titled Trapping Boats of Lake Champlain. The exhibit and talk are the culmination of several years of research into the craft of boatbuilding by Lake Champlain trappers from the 1940's through the 1980's. Douglas talks about his research with Hannaford Career Center and Middlebury College students to identify local trapping boats in Addison County, Vermont and Essex County, New York, documenting them through interviews, measurements, and photographs and in the resulting scale drawings students created of these historic boats, providing the first published record of these craft.

Brooks' talk explores how, until the 1980’s, trapping was an important economic activity throughout the Lake Champlain Region. Boats were integral to this activity and initial research by Middlebury College students showed that many, if not most of these boats, were built by the trappers themselves. The result was the development of a boat type specific to trapping the local waters, designed, refined and built by amateur craftsmen. This project engaged students in documenting two types of these boats - in Vermont and New York - in an effort to expose the students to the interplay of environment, economics, and craft that characterize the culture of Lake Champlain.