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Human Powered Craft

May 20, 2021 in Uncategorized


I covered a small taste of my passion for rowboats in a series of blogs a few months ago. The world of canoes and kayaks is another one all together. How many of you have TWO canoes in your living room?? I have a 1950s Peterborough Otonabee on a stand over an entrance and my Sarazin birch bark canoe in what is supposed to be a dining room.

I have always been passionate about the human powered craft because of the physicality joined with the potential to be connected with nature more directly. Something about moving the craft under your own strength, against or with the elements of nature, is more fulfilling than pushing a throttle. I was told that my grandfather would paddle his canoe 242 km down the Skeena river, using a double-bladed paddle. That must have been quite a rush.

The first canoe that I bought for serious use was the revered Sundance. I bought it at the Toronto Boat Show some 40 years ago. It was designed to meet all the specifications of the regional Muskoka regattas, such as that of the Muskoka Lakes Association. It is a fast recreational canoe that can do it all. It is very easy to put on my shoulders, it is easy to steer with two paddlers, and it has enough beam to carry gear for a mid-length trip.

Made out of cedar strips encased in fiberglass, it is known as the “cedar glass stripper”. This method of construction has been popular for similar small boats, such a rowboats and small sailboats. I bought this one from Mike Schumaker, who at one time had partnered with Will Ruch to build canoes. Mike is now working at The Boatbuilder shop in Port Carling, with Rob Gerig. While never abused, it has been well used and the boat has survived quite well. Every so often I give it a sand, especially the gunwales, and slap on some new varnish.

By Tim Du Vernet

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