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Ted Moores Influence on my Canoe Building by Ken Kosick, Monona, WI, USA

Posted on May 16 2014

By Ken Koscik

When you throw a large rock into a lake, it has many ripples. Ted’s teaching and development of the wood strip canoe building techniques, has also caused many ripples and has changed peoples lives.

Over the years, I have built many canoes.  But in 2003, I was invited to go to Brooklin Maine and the Wooden Boat School by two friends, Joe Brusca and Pat McCutchin.  They wanted to take Ted Moores kayak building class.   I decided to go and take the class because canoe building was my passion, and you can always learn something from taking a class.  For me, Ted’s class was both educational and inspirational.  Everyday, we picked up new tricks and techniques.  Each day we wondered why we didn’t take this class years ago.  Ted’s teaching techniques and his manner of putting everyone at ease was inspirational.  Ted said that there were no dumb questions.  When somebody asked a question, he would always qualify the answer by first saying “that is a good question, or I am glad that you asked that question, or I forgot to mention that, thanks for asking that question.  By the second day, nobody was afraid to ask any question.  Everyone was at ease.  I really learned a lot about teaching adult education. 

His design idea of installing a shear board strengthens the kayak hull, but also simplifies putting the two halves together.  Applying three coats of resin to fill the weave, eliminates days of sanding fiberglass.  The third coat of resin with 45 degree brush strokes in each direction eliminates runs and sags.  Ted walked us through each step of the building process. His method of teaching removed the challenge of building, and simplified the process of building a wood strip craft.

Our family and friends have used our wood strip canoes primarily in our local lake and rivers.  But we have also been on many long distance trips into Quetico Provincial Park just across the border from the Boundary Waters.

Looking back, the class I took from Ted was the beginning of a great journey and the journey is still continuing.  This is where the ripples metaphor begins.   I have been a member of the Downtown Madison Kiwanis club for many years.  Some of the members have built canoes in my small shop.  After Ted’s class, we decided that our Kiwanis Club could have a canoe building class, and then sell raffle tickets for a fund raiser.  We have since built five canoes and one kayak and have raised over $50,000.  The camaraderie and community of these building projects has also been an important part of our Clubs activity.

But there are more ripples.  These building projects with our Kiwanis Club led to an opportunity to teach classes at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais Minnesota.   This will be my eighth year of teaching at the North House Folk School, and we have build sixteen boats to date.  I have had students from all over the USA, Canada, France and Norway.  It has been a very rewarding experience for me and I have gained many new friends.

But still, there are more ripples.  The student from Norway, invited me to come to Norway and teach a class at a Folk School in Rauland Norway.  It is hard to believe that a kid from Kenosha Wisconsin, of Lithuanian heritage, would be asked to go to Norway to teach the Vikings how to build a boat.  But that is what happened in 2011.  It was a great trip and we met some new friends.  We were also able to visit my wife’s relatives and our two exchange students from Norway.

Besides the six canoes for our Kiwanis Club, another canoe and two kayaks have been donated for fund raising projects.  The canoe was built for a fund raiser for a young man who had Leukemia.  That donation led to a fund raising event, a silent and live auction, and eventually raised $51,000 dollars for the family.  There is now a scholarship fund in his name at the Hustisford High School.  One kayak was donated to the Big City Mountaineers for a fund raiser and that organization takes challenged youth from inner cities on wilderness trips all over the country.  The second kayak was donated to the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra and we are currently selling raffle tickets.

Richard Berling, another member of our Kiwanis Club, who has built several canoes in my shop, has now built two canoes for fund raising events for two other local charities.  Another student, Dean DeBroux a teacher from DePere Wisconsin went home and taught a canoe building class to a group of challenged high school students.   He has a separate building for his classes, but built the canoe in the high school shop.  The students in the high school then wanted to know why they couldn’t build one of those canoes.   A student in Norway, also built a kayak for a fund raiser in Rauland Norway.

So for me, the Kiwanis canoes, the teaching opportunity at the North House Folk School, the opportunity to go to Norway, the fund raising canoes and kayaks, the scholarship fund in Hustisford, and all the new friends, can all be linked back to taking the class from Ted Moores.  

There is an old saying “Five years from now, you will be the same person you are today, except for the people you meet and the books that you read.”  Ten years after taking Ted's class, you can easily say that my life is richer today because I met Ted Moores and took a class from him.

Here’s hoping that Ted keeps on teaching and writing, and that more ripples are created and more good things happen. 

Thank you Ted.

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