Contact me at: or by phone 204.878.2524

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Lots of stuff goes on in this shop, located in Lorette, Manitoba.

Primarily it's the building and repair of classic wood & canvas canoes, and the making of premium canoe paddles. I also do custom boat building, composite fabrication, and special projects. A growing passion of mine is the making of classical guitars, I'll post about that, too.

I want to be able to share with my clients the progress of their commissioned work. Later I started thinking that there might be other people who are interested in what goes on inside a wooden canoe shop operated by an artist and a recovering teacher.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me by email, phone, or by post. My mailing address is:

Red River Canoe & Paddle
24249 River Rd
Lorette, Manitoba
R5K 0Z6

Saturday 19 December 2009

Got my Panormo guitar finished last week, too. I've wanted to build one of these for years. It was worth the wait. This is a fun little guitar to play. Small body and short scale, but not a small sound! Good tone and plenty of volume. Different sound from a modern guitar, or anything built in the Torres tradition, but that's why I built it.

Got my double cutaway, Arias/Fleta/Selmer concoction finished! I put the strings on last week and I'm really enjoying the sound of this guitar. The bass is awesome-deep, crisp and resonant.

Gotta get an eagle onto one of the paddles, so same process as before.


One of the easiest ways that I have found to get text onto the paddles, as well as other artwork that I have drawings for, is to print it on paper and use carbon paper to transfer the design onto the paddle.

The carbon paper leaves just enough line for me to ink in and to paint.


I have a custom rubber stamp made up with my logo. Water based block print ink applied to the stamp with a roller is what I use.

Et voila! Done.
So the season is approaching Christmas and my daughter decides that she wants to give wooden bracelets to her friends. Of course its not just a couple of friends but over a dozen. And of course, she needs me to make them...

Simple, cut 14 circles out of plywood and sand them smooth, then varnish.

Spent a good amount of time finishing the current batch of paddles. This is how the look at the end of Friday.

Friday 11 December 2009

After rough cutting the paddle tip, I clamp on a router pattern and use a flush trimming bit to shape the paddle tip to exactly the pattern.

The I clamp on a mold that is prepared for each blade shape, and fill the void with epoxy thickened with milled cotton fiber. I pigment the epoxy blade because everyone knows that black goes well with everything...

A close up of the casting. After the mold is removed I am ready to shape the paddle blade. After the shaping is done, I cut a slot across the paddle tip, right down the middle of the blade, and insert a plate of fiberglass. This holds the whole tip together should the wood ever start to split.

Just when I had my first batch of paddles under control I had some new ones to start.

One of these is for my other daughter, one for a niece, and one for a friend of my elder daughter and niece. So, four of the paddles that I am working on now are for young women who will be attending Manitoba Pioneer Camp next summer. My niece and the friend will be taking their "LIT" Leader In Training course. I am mighty impresses that they valued a good paddle enough to order one!

Here the paddles are cut to shape, the grips are roughed out, and the bulk of the wood on the tip is cut away ready for routing for the epoxy/fiberglass tip.

Still making paddles! After a good amount of shaping and sanding, the cedar/walnut paddle ready for fiberglass. Cedar needs some extra cross grain strength when its worked this thin otherwise its very likely to split, and probably when you can least afford it! I used 2 oz. glass and epoxy resin.

Here is what it looks like after the second coat of resin. It will need to be sanded again before varnish.

And a look at the first batch of paddles. One Birch, one Cherry, one Walnut, and one Cedar/Walnut. All good paddle woods.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

A long time ago I started a Viola da Gamba for my wife. Lots of life got in the way, not to mention a bunch of guitars! Time to get to work on it. I had the mold ready to go, so I just needed to start bending the sides and getting them glued in place.

The "C" bout is the one to start with. I'll do the lower bout next. Can't say when it will be done, but everything adds up!

Paddle making time again!

Usually I make the paddles with a center shaft and laminated blade and grip pieces, but I have one order for a single piece "solid" paddle. When making a paddle like this it is important to cut the paddle over large, then let the wood "settle" prior to cutting it to final dimension.

Most of the paddle tips are routed for the epoxy tip.

One, however, is a cedar blade which requires a more durable edge treatment. Lately, I have taken to laminating thin hardwood strips around the perimeter. However, this one is having a black epoxy border. Later I will be applying 2 oz. fiberglass.

I prepare a plywood backer which has a cutout in the center to allow it to come in full contact with the shaped paddle edge. The plywood is covered with packing tape as a mold release so that the epoxy does not stick to it. Thickened epoxy is applied around the edge. When it is cured it will be shaped as the the paddle blade edge.