Trapping Boats Educate Students About Lake Champlain

Author: [The Eagle]

Middlebury, VT — Officials of the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History in Middlebury announced a new exhibit, “In Champlain’s Wake: Trapping Boats of the Lake Champlain Basin,” an innovative research partnership with the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center, a technical, workplace and continuing educational school for secondary and adult students, also located in Middlebury.

The exhibit will run from March 10 through April 11, showcasing the work of thirteen high school students who researched the traditions of trapping and boatbuilding in the Champlain Valley. Under the direction of Vergennes-based boatbuilder Douglas Brooks and Hannaford’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education) instructor Jake Burnham, the students conducted interviews with trappers, measured historic trapping boats, built replica boats, and produced detailed drawings, undertaking a much-needed comprehensive documentation of vernacular Lake Champlain small watercaft.

Through research and interviews the students learned that until the 1980s trapping was an important economic activity throughout the Lake Champlain region with boats integral to this activity. Their research shows that many, if not most of these boats, were designed and built by local trappers/craftsmen, resulting in practical, unadorned boat types specific to the geographical and nautical idiosyncrasies of local waters.

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