One day when I was perhaps 12 or 13 years old my dad took it into his head to buy a canoe. I’m really not sure what the motivation was as my dad, although a great lover of the summer cottage, had no particular interest in canoeing. Perhaps he did it for me, as by that stage I was already carving my own paddles and passionate about anything to do with canoeing. As it turned out the canoe in question was a fiberglass copy of the famous Chestnut Prospector. It may even have been made by Chestnut as in their later years of operation they sold fiberglass canoes.
The canoe had been left outside on the ground and the gunnels (gunwales) where rotten (see my post on The Best Way to Destroy Your Canoe). We made a trip to the the lumber yard/general store in Poltimore, PQ close to where we rented a cottage on Lake Mcarthur. Even back then in the 70’s this was a magical place out of time. You could buy almost anything in that little shop from a pot bellied stove to corn flakes, to a genuine raccoon skin hat (pretty much a boys vision of paradise). You just had to take to take your time and look. Did they have a 14′ length of mahogany? Of course they did. On to the roof of the station wagon it went and home it went.
My father and I cut it up on a table saw he’d inherited from his father. We drilled and fit the new gunwales and the canoe named Gigi was as good as new, my first canoe restoration complete. What followed was many years of enjoyment in what turned out to be the nicest fiberglass canoe I’ve ever had the privilege to paddle.
“If you want to feel truly Canadian, you’ve got to get out there and learn to paddle a canoe.” Margaret Atwood
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