Water & Wood: Canoes in New York State

Water & Wood: Canoes in New York State details the evolution of what has become the most common boat type in the world. It traces the canoe from the early watercraft of North America through a transition to recreational paddling to what is one of the most accessible watercraft today. Pieces on display include a Rushton Vesper model canoe, a replica of the Rushton Wee Lassie, and a birchbark canoe, among others. As you explore, you will see the evolution of canoeing in New York State and the Northeast. Many cultures used their unique tools and resources to fill their need for small multi-use watercraft. The different approaches to these canoes exemplify the role the boats would fill and the materials, knowledge, and inspiration available to the builders.

The Buffalo Maritime Center is grateful to local designer Scott Alexander Wood for his contributions in the development of this exhibit.

For information about 90 Arthur St. and public hours, please click here.


The Haudenosaunee & the Erie Canal

The Buffalo Maritime Center is currently building a replica of the Erie Canal Boat Seneca Chief at the Longshed (44 Prime St. in Buffalo, NY) on which Governor DeWitt Clinton traveled aboard as he officially opened the Erie Canal in 1825. While construction of the replica Erie Canal Boat itself is a major goal of the BMC, so is inspiring awareness of the history surrounding the creation of the Erie Canal and the effect that this development had on the Haudenosaunee people.

With this exhibit, the Buffalo Maritime Center aims to offer a more holistic telling of the area known as Buffalo Creek, the Haudenosaunee people who inhabited the region long before Europeans arrived in North America, and the treaties that were agreed upon and broken in the name of “progress.” This discussion is only one step toward understanding and honoring the deep Haudenosaunee legacy, but it is an important one to have, especially in light of the commemoration of the Bicentennial of the Erie Canal in 2025.

The Buffalo Maritime Center is grateful to Joe Stahlman, Ph. D., Director of the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum in Salamanca, NY, and Co-Director of Q’willworks LLC; Fileve Palmer, Ph. D., Co-Director of Q’willworks LLC; and local designer Scott Alexander Wood for their contributions in the development of this exhibit.

To learn more about Haudenosaunee history and culture, please visit and the Onöhsagwē:de’ Cultural Center on Seneca Nation’s Allegany Territory in Salamanca, N.Y.

This exhibit has been on view at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford Hanley Library and Salamanca High School Library. If you are interested in hosting this exhibit please email


Exhibit Introduction

The Haudenosaunee

Indigenous People and the Erie Canal

Presence of Haudenosaunee in Buffalo




Other Public Works

Special thanks to our sponsors: