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The Original Moaning Chair

Posted on September 28 2015

In Chapter 5 of Canoecraft, "Setting Up the Workshop,” Ted writes about the typical builder's space:

“Canoebuilders, it seems, have always plied their trade in cramped and cluttered quarters… a dilapidated farm-implement outlet on the outskirts of Bancroft was the early home of Bear Mountain canoes. Ultimately, a canoe can be built anywhere, with very little equipment – only the quality of materials can never be compromised.”

 He identifies a few of the most important factors: space to work, climate control, and ventilation among them. Electrical outlets and a level floor save a lot of heartache, and of course, you'll need enough room to remove the finished product (see this post on lowering a canoe from a third storey window). However, even with these necessities in place, the workshop isn't quite complete: 

“One essential piece of furniture cannot be overlooked – a moaning chair. This will be your haven and delight, where you can rest and eye your fledgling craft, check your plans, pick out flaws before they become fatal and dream of crackling campfires and foaming rapids.”

While revisiting some old photos we found a picture of the first prototype. It's not exactly luxury, but it has a certain rustic charm. Taken circa 1977, it shows where much of the philosophy underlying Canoecraft was born (it also proves that Ted wasn't blowing smoke when he wrote about cramped and cluttered quarters). 

Building a workshop can inspire a mania about gear acquisition, but hopefully you haven’t overlooked the more abstract benefits of the moaning chair. The opportunity to think, plan, and reflect as your canoe takes shape can be nearly as rewarding as paddling the finished product. If you’ve got images of your own workshop, feel free to share them here on the blog or on our FacebookTwitter, or Instagram pages.


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