Canoes on Parade: Portage summer art display honors city’s history

The nine-foot tall canoes are located at nine different spots in the area.
Published: May. 31, 2022 at 8:03 AM CDT
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PORTAGE, Wis. (WMTV) - Canoes are the site to see in Portage this summer, but not the ones floating along on the river.

The Portage Chamber of Commerce helped launch a summer art display called Canoes on Parade. At various locations around the area, you’ll find nine, nine-foot tall canoes. The canoes were hand-painted by local artists and are now on display.

Marianne Hanson with the Portage Chamber of Commerce says the purpose of the art display is meant to welcome visitors to the area this summer.

The use of the canoe for the art project is a nod to the name of the city as ‘portage’ means ‘to carry’. It also pays tribute to the Native American people who used to ‘portage’ their canoe over the narrow strip of land between the Fox River and Wisconsin River to hunt, fish, travel and trade.

One canoe was even located on the current roadway that once was the portage. There is a historical marker to signify the area they would have put their canoe into the Wisconsin River to continue to the Mississippi.

The canoes are located at the following locations:

  • Portage Lumber: 1009 East Wisconsin Street
  • Portage Public Library: 253 West Edgewater Street
  • Pauquette Park: 900 West Conant Street
  • Commerce Plaza: 303 West Wisconsin Street
  • Culver’s: 2733 New Pinery Road
  • Portage State Bank: 2838 New Pinery Road
  • Aspirus Divine Savior Hospital: 2817 New Pinery Road
  • Festival Foods: 2915 New Pinery Road
  • Edgewater Home & Garden: 2957 County Hwy CX

You can also pick up a map at the Chamber of Commerce office located at 104 West Cook Street. To view a map of the canoes, click HERE to go to the Chamber of Commerce website.

Officials say if you stop and take photos with the canoes, you’re encouraged to post them on social media and use the hashtag #PortageWI and #CanoesonParade.

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