1840 Journal

Meet the artisans, discover their expertise, and share their passion.


Onquata decorative aspen paddles Onquata decorative aspen paddles

Discover your true nature with Onquata. 

Onquata, an Indigenous company from Quebec, was inspired by nature and the founders' origins. "My mother and I both appreciate Indigenous art and skill and we ourselves are Wendat," explains Lara B. Siouï, co-founder of this eco-friendly company. The mother-daughter duo loves spending time in the forest and this is where they found the inspiration for their project. Painting and decorating useful objects is a long-established custom of Indigenous peoples. By painting paddles, Lise and Lara had the idea of commercializing this product, and from there, their company was born. Drawing on their roots, the mother and daughter embarked on a wonderful artisanal and ancestral project. 

Onquata - Lara B. Sioui Onquata - Lara B. Sioui

As for many decorative creations at Fabrique 1840, Onquata's pieces are simultaneously symbolic, decorative, and utilitarian. Their modern yet traditional approach to design has appealed widely to the public, from outdoor enthusiasts to admirers of vintage objects. "We often hear people say, 'They are so pretty! I wouldn't dare use them the water!'" says the entrepreneur. It's true that the paddles are so beautiful that it's easy to forget what their primary function is. "When we speak to kayakers, canoeists, and fishermen, they have no problem using them," Lara says. Paddles are very closely intertwined with Indigenous culture. "Our ancestors used the canoe as a means of transportation," the designer explains. 

Onquata decorative aspen paddles Onquata decorative aspen paddles

Onquata designs its eco-friendly products in its workshop located in Wendake, an Indigenous territory located in the Quebec City region. The paddles are handmade using a local species of aspen or Canadian poplar from Shawinigan. The wood is painted with acrylic, a water-based medium, before being varnished with a soluble agent, making the paddles safe for the environment. The colours and patterns that decorate each piece are decided on based on trends and how the designers are inspired.

"The paddle itself inspires us," Lara explains.
"We use a lot of earth tones." This is a natural aesthetic choice, both literally and figuratively.