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Paddle to Power: Trent Severn Antique and Classic Boat Association Show

Posted on June 24 2016

We’re spoiled living in Peterborough. There’s so much boatbuilding history in the region, we don’t have to go far to see really beautiful watercraft. On June 18, the Trent Severn Antique and Classic Boat Association held its Paddle to Power event right downtown in Peterborough’s Millennium Park, providing an outdoor venue to display some of that marine heritage. 

The event’s name refers to a focus on canoes and power boats, as well as the TSACBA’s expanding mandate. Created in 1984, the club’s original interest was solely in wooden boats. Now, they’ve grown from a local organization to one that includes members from BC, California, Michigan, and Quebec, and welcomes a wider variety of construction types. Fibreglass has been around long enough to qualify as vintage, and new constructions inspired by antique styles also fit the bill.

Russ Parker's Adirondack guide boat

For instance, Russ Parker of the Canadian Canoe Museum brought a skin-on-frame Adirondack guide boat to this year’s Paddle to Power. While this style of boat would have been planked originally, Russ adapted his to incorporate Inuit skin-on-frame techniques. Instead of natural skin he used nylon shrunk in place with two-part polyurethane, producing a surprisingly light but durable craft.

Rice Lake sailing canoe restoration by Rick Wood

Close to Russ’ booth was a restoration of an older boat, a twenties or thirties-era Rice Lake sailing canoe belonging to Rick Wood. The canoe was in dire need of attention after languishing on some rocks for over a decade, and Rick acquired it from the previous owner by trading a load of slab wood for it. Although sometimes known as “double cedars” because the inside and outside planks run opposite directions and are traditionally made of cedar, Rick replaced the outside hull with basswood. After 300 hours of work, the sailing canoe is lakeworthy again.

Peter Johnston's Peterborough Handy Boy

On the powered side, Peter Johnston brought a Peterborough Handy Boy from the 1960s, one of the last examples of its kind to be produced. The boat was twenty years old by the time Peter discovered it, but unlike Rick’s canoe it was in such good condition it retained the original base coats of varnish with only a few touch ups.

These are three examples of the kinds of crafts and stories that filled the park on Saturday. Of course, we brought one of our canoes so we could swap stories and advice. The TSACBA regularly runs workshops, group boating runs, parades, and parties – the 2016 calendar can be found here. “To keep it alive is the big thing,” said Jim Watt, one of the Paddle to Power’s organizers. “That’s why we do events.” It certainly seems boat history is alive and well.


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