Own a Piece of Waterfowling History

Historic decoy auction to benefit waterfowl habitat conservation in Canada

By Gary Koehler 

What may be the largest collection of Canadian decoys ever offered at auction at one time will soon be available to the general public. Continental waterfowl habitat conservation programs will be the beneficiary of this blockbuster sale. Nearly 1,000 duck, goose, and shorebird decoys have been donated to Ducks Unlimited Canada by Vancouver, British Columbia, businessman Peter Brown. These decoys were acquired during 30 years of collecting.

"This is a very rare opportunity for DU supporters, waterfowlers, folk art collectors, and decoy enthusiasts to acquire a historical, important waterfowl hunting artifact while supporting DU Canada and its mission," says decoy collector Bruce Malcolm.

The majority of these decoys will be offered via a live auction hosted by Guyette and Deeter, the world's largest waterfowl decoy auction house, in late April in conjunction with the North American Vintage Decoy and Sporting Collectibles Show in St. Charles, Illinois. This show is sponsored by the Midwest Decoy Collectors Association. Absentee bidding and internet bidding will be available. A limited number of decoys are now available through Guyette and Deeter's weekly online auctions at decoysforsale.com.

The Brown collection runs the gamut from repainted working decoys valued  around $100 to investment-quality artifacts appraised for more than $100,000. Decoys from across Canada are included in this one-of-a-kind offering. Most of these decoys were carved in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

"There are many prized decoys in the Brown collection—high-value, sought-after decoys by all of the important Canadian makers. In addition, there are a large number of lesser-known, well-carved decoys that are very collectible and offer great value," Malcolm says.

A portion of this decoy collection will remain in Canada to be periodically displayed at the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre in Manitoba, the site of DU Canada's national headquarters. This display will be dedicated to William McLallen Jr., a passionate waterfowl hunter and longtime friend of Brown's.

Canada enjoys a rich waterfowl hunting and decoy carving tradition. The country's earliest documented floating decoys date to the 17th century, when east coast First Nation members fashioned decoys from harvested waterfowl by stuffing the skins with grass. These forms were then mounted on wooden platforms and scattered across the water near the hidden hunters. This practice was reportedly used by settlers more than 200 years later in eastern Qu├ębec.

The Brown collection features the works of many of Canada's finest old-time carvers. An abbreviated shortlist includes Ivar Fernlund, George Warin, Ken Anger, Orel LeBoeuf, and Joseph Paquette. A pair of stunning Fernlund pintails ranks among the upcoming auction highlights. Fernlund toiled as a pattern shop foreman at the Westinghouse plant in Hamilton, Ontario. He started carving decoys around 1915 and produced a rig of approximately 150 birds, including more than a dozen species. Fernlund used oil paint for his decoys and took great care in producing textured plumage. A skilled duck hunter, Fernlund was known to serve as guide to Westinghouse executives.

Ontario provided both a great diversity of waterfowl habitats and decoy carving styles. Toronto's George Warin ranks among Canada's most accomplished decoy makers. George and his brother James crafted an estimated 2,000 decoys. The quality of their efforts did not go unnoticed. In 1901, George Warin guided and supplied decoys for a Manitoba waterfowl hunting trip that included the Duke of York, who would later become King George V.

Ducks Unlimited Canada now counts 9,896 completed habitat conservation projects and has secured 6.5 million acres of waterfowl habitat. Nearly 18,000 landowners are among its partners. Proceeds from this decoy auction will help perpetuate this extraordinary conservation success story. Purchase a decoy, or two. Help the ducks. The bottom line will provide an increase in crucial waterfowl habitat. 

DECOY DIRECTORY Guyette and Deeter will produce a fully illustrated 225-page catalog featuring approximately 700 decoys that will be available at the April auction. Condition reports will be included. For more information, including
auction dates, contact Guyette and Deeter by phone at 410-745-0485 or visit guyetteanddeeter.com. Download the complete directory ebook now: https://issuu.com/mtjstevenson/docs/du_canada?e=5670342/42703855