Thursday, June 30, 2022

National Canoe Day celebrations in Gravenhurst

On June 26th, I took part in the celebrations for National Canoe Day. The Northern Lakes Chapter of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association had been collaborating with the Muskoka Discovery Center for National Canoe Day. Forecasted thunderstorms and rain which threatened our whole day never materialized, so a special thanks to local meteorologists for being so wrong! 

The theme of this year's Canoe Day at the Discovery Centre was the "courting canoe", a special class of wooden boat constructed for stylish leisure and affairs of the heart. These canoes were most often designed with seats facing each other and often were accessorised with pillows, picnicking supplies, lanterns, and record players. Volunteers at Heritage Boatworks workshop had been working on restoring a vintage courting canoe in the museum's collection.

The canoe is a  Peterborough no. 44, a longitudinal strip canoe (16' x 31" x 12") produced by the factory between 1909-1930. This varnished cedar model seems to have been built with added options including a torpedo style deck with storage compartment underneath as well as a hole for a mast sail. 

The canoe was, at one time, owned and utilized by guests of one of the largest resorts in the region, the famed Bigwin Inn on Lake of Bays.

The Bigwin Inn circa 1917

Later in the day, the canoe was paddled with Gravenhurst Ward 1 Councillor, Penny Varney, serving as the "wooed lady" while dressed in period clothing and protecting herself from the sun with a colourful parasol.

By the time our group was all setup we had a dozen canoes on display around the front courtyard. These included a century old birchbark, as well as new builds and restored cedar-canvas hulls.  Very eye-catching was a modern cedar-strip sailing canoe all rigged up. 

The Chapter had a few other static displays for the public to peruse. These included a 5 foot building form (courtesy of  Rob Stevens) from which the public could glean the basics of wood-canvas canoe construction. 

I also brought along a display of both full-sized and model historic paddle reproductions as well as a 3 foot bark canoe under construction.

During the day volunteers spent time demonstrating paddle carving and seat caning to those with interest...

Craig MacDonald brought his large 20 ft freight canoe covered in Dacron. At one point he had this 110 pound craft up on his shoulders!

Smaller hulls were represented by Roger Young who brought along a stellar display of various Factory Sample canoes, models, and tribal paddles.

Modern canoes were also represented as popular YouTuber, CamperChristina, brought along her brand new carbon-kevlar H20 canoe weighing in at just 28 lbs! Christina was kind enough to allow folks to try an lift this beautiful feather up for portaging and also permitted another paddler to test the canoe during an in-water demonstration.

Commodore Rick Mroz from the Muskoka Paddling Club also brought along their group's 26 foot North Canoe.

Additional demonstrations and some paddling tests were conducted in the protected bay behind the Museum building. 

All in all, a fun day was had with fellow canoe enthusiasts. Happy Canoe Day until next year!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks like a good time was had for all..

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