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2015: Year in Review

Posted on December 18 2015

2015: Year In Review

 C4 for Lachine Canoe Club

One of the perks of doing a Year in Review is it reminds you your life is more eventful than you give it credit for. At least that was the case for us, because when we first asked ourselves what to include in this piece, we drew a blank.  Then, of course, all the projects we worked on and connections we'd made over the year came back. We dug up some pictures too, and they’re included here as a kind of photo essay.

In the first part of the 2015 we built a C4 for the Lachine Club. A C4 is a sprint racing canoe for four kneeling paddlers, and while they’re as aesthetically pleasing as any wooden canoe, they’re also engineered for serious speed. We were flattered to see a picture of the C4 in action on the club’s Facebook page, which we’ve reproduced here:


2015: Year In Review

Photo by Lachine Canoe Club ( 

Speaking of C4s, we also did a restoration of a canoe we built in 1985 for the Rideau Canoe Club. It had been well-used and never had any maintenance, so last spring the club brought it in a for a repair. We blasted off old varnish that wasn’t tight, repaired damaged areas with fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin, and varnished it. It was back in the water racing within a few weeks. After thirty years of heavy use, this minor repair was a reminder of how tough these boats really are.


2015: Year In Review

 Restoring a C4 for the Rideau Canoe Club

In March, Joan took a trip to the San Blas Islands. She and a group of fellow paddlers flew into Isla Tigre, a fairly remote area of Panama belonging to the Guna people. The group travelled for eight days with the help of a Guna guide through some of the lushest scenery imaginable. Because there’s virtually no light pollution in the San Blas Islands, Joan remembers incredible stargazing – and some fierce rainstorms that blew up to ambush anyone who tried to take advantage by pitching their tent without a fly. 

Professional photographer James Kaiser was along for the trip, so we’ve borrowed a couple of photos from his site. For more of James’ photography, visit


2015: Year In Review

2015: Year In Review

Photos by James Kaiser

Back in Peterborough, we entered some photos of our own in the Spark Photo Festival. Our exhibit was called Edible Adventures, a compilation of pics from our travels in Central America. We had originally gone to Belize to design and build racing canoes for an event called La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge, a gruelling four-day, 140 mile canoe race that follows an ancient canoe route of the Maya beginning near the Guatemala border and finishing in Belize City. The trip kept paying dividends in the form of shots like this one.


 2015: Year In Review

From "Edible Adventures," Spark Photo Festival

Over the summer we decided to try and step up our presence on social media, to try and engage more with our customers. It’s been very gratifying to chat with canoe enthusiasts over the world – and it’s been lots of fun to resurface some old photos from the early days of Bear Mountain Boats. If you’re on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter, do look us up.


 2015: Year In Review

 Snapshot from our Instagram page

On a homier note, we had the workshop repainted this fall by Terry J. Welch & Son. The shop was overdue for a fresh coat, and we still get a kick whenever we step out in the morning and see it looking sharp.


 2015: Year In Review

Looks even better in decent weather...

In September we hosted a canoe-building workshop. Ten students came from around the world to build a 15' Prospector Ranger and a 17' Freedom. The group was very well-matched in terms of abilities and interests, so the canoes turned out beautifully. On the last Saturday we held a graduation ceremony and raffle, with the winners purchasing the completed canoes at a reduced price. Josh Heise won the raffle to purchase Freedom 17’, and Sara Yelland won the Prospector Ranger.


 2015: Year In Review

 September canoe-building group toasts a job well done

We received a vital assist in the canoe-building workshop from local builder Denis Gagne. This year Denis built a Ranger 15’ as part of a fundraiser for the Lakefield Trail, near our home base in Peterborough. He raised $10,000 for the trail selling raffle tickets at community events, and the final draw was made at a gala at Lakefield College School in November.


2015: Year In Review

Denis' canoe with commemorative logo

...which about brings us to the present. Coming up in 2016, we’re building a new C15 war canoe for the Burloak Canoe Club. The BCC has produced some fantastic paddlers, including Olympic gold medalist Larry Cain, so the bar is set very high. We’re excited to have the new project to carry us into the new year.


 2015: Year In Review

C15 under construction for the Burloak Canoe Club 

As we were looking through our records, letters, and photos from the year past, we were struck by how many people told us they dreamed of building their own boat. Canoes and their construction seem to hold a special place in people’s imagination, maybe because they connect nostalgic memories from childhood with pride of accomplishment in the present. Whatever the reason, congratulations to everyone who saw their ambitions realized in 2015, and best of luck to everyone who’s still making plans. It’s an honour to be part of something that has such significance in people’s lives. Happy New Year!

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