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A Bridge Shaped Like a Canoe by Steven Stewart, Wildensbuch, Switzerland

Posted on April 29 2014

By Steven Stewart

My journey started back in 1996 when I relocated from Michigan USA to Switzerland. Thinking at the time I would have some extra time after relocating to start an old dream of mine of building a cedar strip canoe I purchased the Canoe Craft in English as my helpful guide and instructor and was off. As many journeys in life just never seem to find their starting point mine was no different and the time just never seemed to be available. Finally in 2011 while contemplating on possible trips I could do with my older brother (which I hadn’t seen in 4 years up to that point) it just happened that my Canoe Craft found its way back to the top of my desk and presented a wonderful idea. After a few months of planning we were both off to meet in Peterborough Canada for the week course in September 2011 given by Ted and Denis.

After teaming up with a father and son team and the personnel guidance from Ted we got started on the 15 ft. Ranger. Needless to say considering the few late nights we had visiting with each other (catching up for the 4 years) it was definitely very satisfying to see at the end of the week the completed project. My brother then had the opportunity to take it home with him, but due to my flight schedule returning back to Switzerland the transport had to wait for a few weeks. The always helpful Denis then jumped in and offered to bring it down to London Ontario and meet back up with my brother so he could take it from there. The final details of finishing up the canoe were now in his hands and my new goal was to build my own when I returned back to Switzerland.

After a long  winter and spring planning and organizing all the materials needed so that I could make my own cedar strips, strongback, seats and other details the process was off and running in July 2012. With the help of my wife and our two youngest boys my second 15ft Ranger project to be built without staples was coming together. After many evenings and weekends spent with the family cutting, planning, gluing, shaving and sanding it was finally water worthy and christened in March 2013 under the name “Eagle I” and is now a regular visitor of the Rhine River.

In the spring of 2014 my brother came to Switzerland to visit and needless to say our canoes were the center of several conversations. The stories behind them and still in front of them seem to be endless.

As many journeys are by starting out with one person and end with many, so was mine. In the process of building a Canoe we built a bridge between siblings, generations, friends, cultures and oceans. A special Thanks again to Ted for passing on your knowledge, experience and skills. There really are a lot of things a person could do with a pile of sticks.

PS. There are 4 short cut offs from the canoe built in Canada (the light colored strip between two dark colored strips) built into this canoe in Switzerland. The DNA is being passed on.

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