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This small canoe was built in 1882 by J. H. Rushton in Canton, New York, for writer and adventurer George Washington Sears. Under the name "Nessmuk," Sears penned essays on hunting, fishing, and camping for popular journals and magazines.
Currently on loan
Object Name
canoe "Sairy Gamp"
canoe, "Sairy Gamp"
date made
Rushton, J. H.
place made
United States: New York, Canton
Physical Description
white cedar (overall material)
slippery elm (overall material)
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
U.S. Fish Commission
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
Sports & Leisure
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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This canoe is as lovely as a Viking longboat, and much less intimidating. During our honeymoon at Blue Mountain Lake, we visited the museum, and I fell in love with the craftsmanship and grace of the Adirondack guide boats. My new wife did not resent it at all; she was smitten too.
"Sirey Gamp, byname of Sarah Gamp, comic fictional character in Charles Dickens’s novel Martin Chuzzlewit (1843–44). Sarah Gamp, a high-spirited old Cockney, is a sketchily trained nurse-midwife who is as enthusiastic at laying out a corpse as she is at delivering a baby."
Why was this canoe given such a funny name??
As Christine Jerome explained in her excellent book “An Adirondack Passage”: “The Sairy Gamp was named for the nurse-midwife in Martin Chuzzlewit, and like her tippling namesake, Sears (Nessmuk) hoped she would take no water.” Clearly, Sears had a wonderful sense of humor! Also, as listed above, Sears’ canoe is indeed on loan, and resides at the Adirondack Museum, in Blue Mountain Lake, NY. A very appropriate resting spot, and well worth a visit!
Did you ever get an answer to your question? Dickens was the favorite author of George Washington Sears (Nessmuk), but I've never heard why he selected Sairy Gamp as the name for his canoe. If you've gathered any further info I'd appreciate your thoughts. Thanks
Hello Ms. St. Clair! What's funny about that name?

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