Justine Kerfoot’s Canoe at Chik-Wauk

August 24, 2019

People will travel for thousands of miles to see where Elvis Presley was born. Others marvel at jerseys or other memorabilia worn by professional athletes during the biggest games in sports history.

Here on the Gunflint Trail, we gaze in awe and reverence at canoes. And in these parts, no one’s canoe is perhaps more revered than that of former Gunflint Lodge owner and Trail pioneer Justine Kerfoot.

Thanks to a new building that opened this year at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center, you can now become acquainted up close and personally with the canoe Justine paddled for decades throughout the Boundary Waters. The building was put together as things often come to be along the Gunflint, through sheer will, determination and volunteer efforts. A timber-frame structure built in conjunction with North House Folk School in Grand Marais, the new “boathouse” building features watercraft used by the likes of Benny Ambrose, who will go down in history as the last permanent resident of what is now the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

And then there is Justine and her canoe. Few put in more miles on the water around Gunflint Lake in the 1930s and 40s than did Justine. In the very canoe that is now on display at Chik-Wauk, Justine chased lake trout, portaged across rugged terrain to hunt moose, and guided wide-eyed tourists to remote waterfalls and secret fishing holes.

Chik-Wauk Museum & Nature Center is located at the end of the Gunflint Trail. It’s an easy drive the museum from our base of operations here on Gunflint Lake, allowing the flexibility of an impromptu day trip or a whole-day adventure to Chik-Wauk. The museum officially opened in 2010 at the site of an old fishing camp and from the start has been connected to the history of Gunflint Lodge, the activities associated with Trail life and the Gunflint community. The museum is open this year until Oct. 20, so you still have plenty of time left to come enjoy the splendor of summer or early days of fall and check out all the new and exciting features and display at Chik-Wauk!