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Courting Canoe Heritage

December 2, 2021 in Uncategorized


There is something eternally romantic about floating gracefully along in a boat. While we don’t have too many willows bending over a sandy shoreline, Muskoka still has lots of romantic options available. A beautiful little canoe at the Muskoka Boat and Discovery Centre demonstrates just how focused a craft could be in the name of romance.

Bill Riddell, the MSDC’s canoe expert, showed me what is called a “courting canoe”. Providing cramped and therefore, intimate, seating, what would otherwise be a smallish, elegant planked canoe, has been turned into a vehicle of love.

With rounded ribs, typical of a Peterborough canoe, a round bottom that would be rather tender to paddle, this canoe came equipped with adjustable reclining seats and a small bow storage compartment.

Riddell explained that the seat backs, made in traditional cane, could turn back either way and that either the gentleman or lady could be paddling. I suppose a few treats or beverage could be stashed in the front compartment.

The boat is elegantly made with smooth cedar planks, with a flush stern deck and slightly raised bow deck. It looks as though the centre thwart could be removed if necessary.

The gunwale is most likely oak, but a contrasting plank strip of darker wood runs just a few layers underneath the gunwale, which is flush with the top edge of the planking. All in all, a very elegant boat. There was clearly a considerable about of care and craftsmanship in the construction of the vintage canoe. It just wouldn’t have been the same, made out of anything other than wood. 

By Tim Du Vernet

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