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Canoebuilding in the Time of COVID

Ted Moores works on planking the hull of an unfinished C4 racing canoe

 

(This message was originally sent out via our newsletter. We're sharing it here for our website visitors, but if you'd like to receive updates like this direct to your mailbox, sign up here)

Having weathered the turbulence of 2020 we are glad to turn our gaze to the new year ahead with hope for peace and health in our world in 2021.
 
We have been among the fortunate ones during this pandemic - living in a small community we can avoid crowds and still get out to hike and paddle, walk the dog around the village and connect with our neighbours safely. So far our family has been healthy and adjusting to the restrictions we all have had to endure to keep the virus from spreading.
 
Ted had already decided not to offer any classes in 2020 and he was quite content working alone in his workshop, completing a C15 for the Pointe Claire Canoe Club and putting more varnish on Sparks. Working with Steve Killing we completed the final prototype for a small training boat for dragon boat paddlers.

Two paddlers test a prototype of a dragonboat-style trainer boat on Upper Rideau Lake

Two elite paddlers test the DragonFly prototype, new a dragonboat-style design

From my perspective there was never a better time to be working from home helping people execute their small boat dreams. Sales of plans and building materials almost doubled over the previous year and I was almost too busy - Ted compared the volume of my outgoing shipments to Amazon’s.
 
When our good friend Ron Frenette of Canadian Canoes announced his retirement in March we had to locate a new supplier of materials. It has not been easy to replace Ron whose unflagging energy and enthusiasm has been a huge part of Bear Mountain. To say that I miss working with him is a giant understatement.

Ron Frenette paddles a wooden canoe on a trip to the Kipawa

Ron Frenette, on a paddling trip to the Kipawa

We have partnered with Noah’s Marine so we can continue to ship strips and other materials from their Toronto location. Noah’s has purchased the same milling machine we were using so the strips are produced in house now which should give us more control. Supply shortages have plagued every business over the last year and we are grateful to our customers who have been patient with the unusual wait times.
 
One of the bright spots of 2020 was hearing from people who found an outlet for their creative energies and an escape from the news cycle in boatbuilding. So if you’ll oblige us, we’d love more stories like that. These pictures and stories we receive give meaning to our work and sharing them on social media helps to inspire other builders.

A mold for making war canoes, with the names of every canoe built using it written on the side

Ted's C15 mold has its building history written on the side

We want to hear about your experience making things. What did it mean to you to practice this craft at a time like this? If you’ve built before, did the past year feel different? Were any aspects easier or harder? Don’t feel the need to sugarcoat it if you ran into difficulties finding the help, resources, or energy you needed. If you found it rewarding in the end, though, your story could inspire someone else looking for a productive way to while away the hours until the vaccine arrives.
 
If you have a story to share, write to info@bearmountainboats.com. Photo attachments are much appreciated. Shorter stories and snapshots may find a home on our social media accounts; longer ones could evolve into blog posts on our website. Of course, if you’d prefer not to share the story so widely, that’s fine too.
 
We can’t thank you enough for your support at a time when so many small businesses are struggling. Thanks to a strong and resilient building community, we’re feeling good about the future of this craft. Looking forward to hearing from you, sincerely,
 
Joan

Ted Moores and grandson stand beside a partially completed plywood boat

Ted and grandson working on a plywood boat side project

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