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Building Across Generations: Celebrating Brownsea Base's 50th Anniversary

Posted on June 01 2016

As canoe builders, we’re mindful that what we do is part of a tradition. We owe a debt to the builders of the past for many of the designs we use today, and we’re glad to see the techniques passed on to backyard builders everywhere.

That’s why we’re enthusiastic about any initiative that fosters interest in woodworking or paddling among youth. Brownsea Base combines both in their water skills program at Roger’s Cover here in Peterborough. Operated by Scouts Canada, the program teaches youth aged 11-17 canoe, kayak, and sailing skills. The Scouts celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Brownsea Base on Saturday, May 28 with a community barbeque that featured speeches, a DJ, and a boat display – including a brand new cedarstrip Ranger built to raise funds.

Organizer Tamara Anderson stressed it was important “to do something very special to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Brownsea Base. Brownsea Base has a history of making boats… We thought what better way to tie in some of the history of the base than to create something beautiful like the cedarstrip canoe, and hopefully along the way it would garner some attention to the event and to the milestone.” 

The Ranger attracted plenty of attention, but had to compete with an Optimist pram, one of the original sailing boats built when the program began, as well as some hand-built kayaks. Young and old Scouters had a hand in building the Ranger, with the assistance of local builder Denis Gagne. Denis also helps teach our canoe building classes at the Bear Mountain workshop, but this time he offered his expertise and his garage for the project.

Denis commented that the canoe is unique for its oak decks, and took approximately two hundred hours to build. Sixteen-year-old Arwen Andersen, Youth Commissioner for the Kawartha Waterways area, contributed her share. “I learned how much effort it takes to actually make one. When you see one you’re like, oh that’s cool, but it’s actually such a long process and it takes such a lot of steps and a lot of manhours – but it’s definitely well worth it.”

Four of the program’s five founders were at the celebration, and we hope they take pride in seeing what they've built. We’re certainly encouraged to see young builders like Arwen engaged and fascinated by the canoe building process. Brownsea Base will raffle off the Ranger in August as part of their fundraiser, and local readers who are interested in buying a ticket can visit the group’s Facebook page.


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