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Why Build? by Jeffery Piotrowski, London, ON Canada

Posted on June 03 2014

By Jeffery Piotrowski

My father was a collector.  His garage was full of all manner of materials.  Inside were several boards that he managed to get from an old house.  It was wainscoting made from very old mahogany.  Always looking for something to do, I asked myself “what could I make from it?”  My father was getting older, it was time to stop saying we should do something and just do it.  So in December of 2005 I decided that I should make us a canoe.   He had always been working in the garage as far as I can remember.  Make a canoe and do some fishing on the Grand River.  What a better way to spend time with Dad.

I started my research and finally decided to make the 15 foot Chestnut Canoe.  There were a few things that swung me to make this decision.  The 15 feet in length would be easier to get materials for its construction and to eventually store.  Besides, I had named my dog, Chestnut, years earlier.  So there I went…

I am a carpenter by trade, but as I found out building boats definitely was a different kettle of fish.  I learned many new things and discovered some new skills that I normally wouldn’t use in my normal work routines.  It was certainly a fun experience milling up the rough mahogany and cedar into strips and then starting the assembly process.

Since its construction we’ve been to most if not all of the parks in Southern Ontario.  It’s become a camping staple since we normally take it with us.  It’s great to see all the smiles and have a few laughs while we fit the four of us into the canoe.  We came close to a turnover the first few times when the kids were younger.  We have since done much better and seen things from sunsets to mating turtles…

I started out to build the canoe for something my father and I could do together.  However, he got cancer and quickly passed away as I was building it.  Today I think of him every time I look at the mahogany on the top portion to the canoe by the gunwales.  I think my Dad, Walter, would have enjoyed himself as much as my wife, my kids, and I have.



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