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

Friday 27 January 2012

A yellow canoe is like a blast of sunshine in the shop on a cold January workday.

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This may look like an ordinary tomato, but it has been picked off of a tomato plant that I have been over-wintering in my shop. Last summers plants were looking pretty good when they were due to be pulled out and thrown on the compost heap, so I decided to try keeping one potted. The goal is to get a good start for next summer.

So far, so good.

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I had about an hour left at the end of yesterday before I closed the shop for the day. I had put the final coat of paint on the new Cruiser and couldn't risk making dust, not now! What to do? I decided to continue cutting out the pegbox for the Viola da Gamba that I have been working on. So now most of the wood has been removed and the refining is left. Once this is done I can fit it to the garland, which is what the assembled sides are called before the top and back are on. After it has been fitted I can continue work on the back and top.

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Friday 20 January 2012

One final view of Bob's Boreal "Y" stern all done and awaiting pick-up. Its tough to get a nice shot of a canoe inside the shop.

I've often been asked about how it must be hard to invest so much of yourself into building a canoe like this.  "Oh it must be so hard to see it go!".

The truth is  You build enough canoes (or guitars -whatever...) and you finish one and it goes out the door. You don't weep, you don't moan, you just sweep the floor and say "Right, Next!", and move on to the next project like the Jesus Lizard running across the water because you have bills to pay and you sink if you stop running

And the next project is always more exciting anyway.

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Who doesn't like looking at some gleaming woodwork under 5 coats of varnish as the light comes streaming in through the window?

Yes, Bruce, this IS your canoe...

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I make up these Brass plate to be installed on the ends of the gunnels. On the restorations that come in I find that the ends take a beating over the years, mostly when the canoe is resting turned over. These are to help protect the wood.

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The tuning machines for the L-00 arrived this week. I had actually hoped to buy them a year ago! But, life happens and the money is needed on more immediate thing. Seems like my children want to eat...

The machines are from the Stew-Mac "Golden Age" series of replacement tuners. They are patterend off of vintage style tuning machines primarily for replacing worn out machines on otherwise still worthy guitars. I choose the relic treatment not for any faux vintage for my guitar, but because I didn't want anything too shiny. I also choose the engraved ones just because I liked them better than the plain plates.

Everything is going to completion! Bob's Boreal was picked up this afternoon and will be travelling with him as he moves house to Ottawa in next week. Done just in time! The Cruiser in the back needs only paint and to have the trim installed, and the guitar just needs set up for the strings to play just right.

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Wednesday 18 January 2012

I never did receive any in the field shots of the Sectional Klondike canoe that I built for Frantic Films' "Klondike: Quest for Gold", nor did I ever receive a DVD of the series, so I lifted these ones from some clips posted on Youtube. I apologize in advance for any copyright infringements, but this IS my canoe.

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Saturday 14 January 2012

A close up of the Walnut trim on the Cruiser after first coat of varnish.

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I am declaring the finish on the L-00 least for now. After slaving on it over the last few weeks and suffering the inequities of errant dust, I reminded myself that the purpose of this particular guitar was that I have something around that my hard picking friends can thrash on instead of despoiling my delicate nylon string gutiars.

So, with that personal edict in mind I glued on the bridge and bolted the neck on to start checking and refining its alignment. While it was all together I decided to get a couple of glamour shouts of it sitting in the canoe.

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All of the thwarts and seats are made for the Cruiser in Walnut. Here they are with the first coat of varnish.

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Some colour has come into the shop this week! The paint on the Boreal is all done, got her turned over and got the last two coats of varnish on the gunnels. On Monday I will bolt the thwarts back in and get the stm band prepared and installed. All that is left is to put the seat in and they are being caned while all the rest of the work is getting done.

If you squint you can see in the background (second photo) that the Cruiser has its outwales on, that they are sanded and have the first two coats of varnish on.

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Thursday 12 January 2012

Been working the L-00 along. On the classical guitars I apply a shellac finish in a French Polish. On this gutiar I am trying a varnish finish. A number of guitar makers are turning to varnish as a finish as Nitrocellulouse laquer is risky to use for small shops, what with all of those nasty chemicals it requires.

Anyway that you look at it, applying a finish is a long, tedious, and challenging process. I hate factory guitars for setting public expectations to evaluate a guitar on how perfect the finish is.

Anyway, the Mahogany and Spruce is looking lovely.

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Wednesday 11 January 2012

Sanding the filler on the Boreal "Y" stern. The keel is just about to be put on, then paint, paint, paint!

The Cruiser is in filler to the left and is waiting while the filler cures.

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Monday 9 January 2012

The trim is on the Boreal and the Cruiser has three coats of varish. The Cruiser is now faired and sanded on the exterior and is now ready for canvas. Its actaully already in canvas for a week now, but I'm behind in posting! I'll get two more coats of varnish on yet.

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