Friday, 29 June 2007

Spruce & Canvas Canoe Construction

Spruce & Canvas Canoe Construction

"She's all my fancy painted her, she's lovely, she is light. She waltzes on the waves by day and rests with me at night."
Nessmuk, Forest and Stream, July 21, 1880 [of the Wood Drake Canoe built for him by Rushton]

“There is nothing that is so aesthetically pleasing and yet so functional and versatile as the canoe. “
Bill Mason
Winter snows never melt fast enough so one spring in the mid 1980’s, I jumped at the opportunity to take a canoe construction course offered by ‘Wilderness Workshop’ through Humber College of Toronto, Ontario. Our personable and informative instructor, Ron Frenette, guided a small group of enthusiasts through the construction processes involved in building a spruce & canvas canoe. Class members were involved every stage of the build including material selection, wood bending, placement & attachment, canvas properties to final filling & painting. The completed canoe was offered for sale ‘at cost’ to any willing student and the canoe moulds were made available to any student wishing to apply their newly acquired skills in making their own craft from scratch. The course was extremely informative and enjoyable experience. Wilderness Workshop also offered courses in canoe paddle carving and carrying yoke carving.

Why I didn’t document the entire process through photographs remains a puzzle to me. Perhaps I was too involved at the task at hand. Hence I offer here a number of photos from the middle sequence of the assembly of a spruce & canvas canoe. Likewise, my hand written notes have been safely filed away, never to be seen again in my lifetime. I have no photo of the completed canoe however I offer below a commercial photo of a Chestnut canoe on which ours was modeled.

Although incomplete, inquiries and repeated hits on the one photo in my ‘Miscellanious Photo’ post had convinced me to offer the few photos I do have in a slide show format below.



Chestnut Prospector Canoe - Similar to the one built in course

Paddle Carving Course
(Through Wilderness Workshop & Humber College, Ontario)

Canoe Carrying Yoke Carving Class (Instructor Greg)
(Through Wilderness Workshop & Humber College, Ontario)


Yokes In Various Stages Of Progress

Roughing Out Carrying Yoke With Axe

Bandsawing Cherry Paddle Blank
(Canoe Moulds In Background)

More Cherry Paddles Being Carved and Shaped

Traditional Birch Bark Canoe Construction Video

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