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Piece of elm tree removed in Grand Marais included in North House boat project

North House Folk School instructor John Beltman holds a piece of elm that once stood on Hwy 61 . Photo by Joe Friedrichs
North House Folk School instructor John Beltman holds a piece of elm that once stood on Hwy 61 . Photo by Joe Friedrichs

North House Folk School is partnering with the Cook County Historical Society to celebrate and preserve an element of the local boating and fishing culture.

A team of students and staff were busy at North House the week of Jan. 6-12 building a replica of a herring skiff that was stationed in Colvill on the North Shore in the 1940s. Colvill is about 10 miles outside of Grand Marais.

The original boat is in the collection of the Cook County Historical Society. The replica build is being led by North House Resident Artisan Josh Tolkan and longtime North House instructor John Beltman.

The first phase of building the replica herring skiff is set to conclude Jan. 12. Work on the skiff will continue with a series of public workshops this spring and summer. The completed skiff will be a part of the Cook County Historical Society collection.

During a discussion forum about the history of the original Colvill herring skiff and the replica being built at North House in 2020, news emerged that another local element is involved with the project. Elm trees that were cut down in late 2019 along Highway 61 in Grand Marais are literally being attached to the project at North House. A section from one of the harvested elm trees will serve as the stem of the replica skiff. The stem is the most forward section of the skiff’s bow.

The photo accompanying this article shows Beltman holding the piece of elm that will serve as the stem on the new herring skiff.

The audio below includes Beltman and Tolkan describing the process of recovering the elm and how it will be used on the replica skiff.

Tune in next week on WTIP to hear an update with Tolkan regarding this project.
 

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