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

Monday 30 April 2012

The Fort Severn canoe project was on CBC's The National last night.  You can watch it online

Fort Severn Canoe restoration project

Friday 27 April 2012

Now that the neck for the viola da gamba is done and attached to the garland, I need to make a workboard.  I learned AFTER I had made all of these parts that the proper way to make these instruments (if there is a "proper" way) is to use a workboard and make the back first, then attache the sides to the back, jined with a fillet of linen tape glued with hot hide glue.  The neck would then be aligned and attached.  The belly would be done last.

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I have a 1963 Bill Brigden M2 canoe in for some repair work.  Usually all I get in are the M3s.  The M2 has a bit more of a shallow "V" bottom to it, much like the Mad River Canoes had.

This canoe also has inner and outer gunnels, the M3 had outers only for quick water drainage.  The M2 has inners of Spruce and outers of White Oak.  The flotation is still chunks of foam shoved into the bow and stern, the bulkhead is still a piece of varnished 1/4" Fir plywood with a gob of resin as a hold at the bottom of the canoe.

The deck is a piece og galvanized sheet metal.  On the M3s this would be screwed to the top of the gunnels, but on this M2 it is held below the gunnels by compression of he foam against the deck plate.  This required me to do a bunch of fitting to get the right angle and just the right amount of pressure.  The deck has its exposed edged folded at right angles forming a hook which holds the bulkhead from flopping all over.  One last bit of reverse engineering was to figure out what kept this whole arrangement from falling apart.  More of this later when I get it together and have photos.

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John Hupfield and Mike Ornsby in the kitchen/recruiting office for the Fort Severn canoe restoration project.

Fort Severn in on Northern Ontario just east of the Manitoba border near the shore of Hudson's Bay.  The community has initiated a canoe rebuild program. John and Mike have take up the pilot program which has proved succsesful enough that the community now wants it to be an ongoing program, and they want me involved.  I flew up there last weekend for a meet and greet.

The shop looks like a real happening place now, but three weeks earlier this was a garage for truck and heavy equipement, there were no tools or materials, and the canoes were spread through the community in various states of repair or disrepair.

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The Bob's Special is done.

Sorry for the lack of updates the last few weeks, but my computer had some sever problems and is caput for the next while, so I am now on alternative computers but all of my photos, etc, are not at hand.

Filler is curing and the trim is on, sanded, and first two coats of varnish.  The seats are caned.  One thing of note on these old seats is the curved side pieces which adds a very elegant touch, and so simple to do.

The owner's picked it up a couple of days ago.  At that time I learned that this canoe has been in their famiy since 1951, bought by her father in that year and was probably bought as a used canoe.

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Wednesday 4 April 2012

The Bob's Special is nearing completion.  Both of the decks needed replacing, so I used Bird's Eye Maple, as were the originals, to make new decks.  The ends of the stems and gunnels, as well as the ends of the ribs in the area, were all shot and needed replacing.

Then the removed palnking goes back on, the hull is prepped, canvassed, and filled.

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I seem to find myself making a violin.  I have a young fellow coming to the shop a couple days a week, and he's a fiddler, so he's working on learning how fiddles get put together.  So, I am working alongside of him.  I have some spruce glued up for a soundboard and some bird's eye maple for the body.  The idea here is for us to work through the process, not to build the world's great violin from pristine materials.

That can come later.

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The spring weather is coming a little early this year.  I am putting my tomato plant that I kept all winter, out into the sun.  The harsher conditions of intense sunlight and wind are a little hard on it, but this hardening off stage is important.

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I finally got the neck on the garland for the viola da gamba!  It certainly took long enough to get to this stage.   There are many ways to do this task, some as crude as using a nail.  I decided to use a glued floating mortise.

 Now I can start on the back.  I have the plate made, but there is a good bit of inlay to do and its easier to do before I fix the back to the garland.

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Here is the spring crop of new paddles ready for final sanding.  I must be getting old as this is getting harder and harder to do all day long.  Just sanding these 12 paddles to final finish takes 6-8 hours.  Standing on concrete, holding and controlling a heavy, vibrating sander, bending over the work, and concentraitn so as not to screw up, takes its toll.  I felt pretty beat up yesterday at the end of the work day.

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Its a tough thing, photographing 9'6" oars inside the shop.  You just can't get far enough away to get them all into one shot, and if you do, then you are so far away that they don't show!

I like these oars, they make me wish that I had a pair or two, and a rowboat to go with them.


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