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Our Contributors

Left to Right: Ron Frenette, Denis Gagne, Matt Snell, Bruce Kendall, Randy Pfeifer

Ted and Joan are the core of Bear Mountain Boats, but it takes a range of talents and trades to keep things running smoothly. Here are some of the people who contribute their time and experience to help make this small business an international name.

Ron Frenette has been working with Bear Mountain Boats for thirty-five years. As the proprietor of Canadian Canoes, he provides all the wooden materials for our kits, from gunwales to strips to keel. Originally a Toronto-based educator, Ron became interested in canoes while looking for a way to get students interested in Canadian history, geography, and natural science. The canoe struck him as an icon that unified all three subjects, and he began organizing field trips out on the water. When these proved popular he decided to build a canoe as a class project. Ron describes his first attempt at a wood-canvas canoe as “dreadful,” and met Ted while looking for ways to improve his technique. After collaborating on some building courses they hit on the idea to make kits, and the rest is history. Ron remains an active paddler, and despite scaling back his own workshop, still builds the occasional project in a friend’s basement. Check out to find a wealth of his building advice.

Denis Gagne co-teaches our building workshops and helps build some of our larger canoes. An avid canoeist since he joined the Boy Scouts in the early sixties, in his high school days he raced with the Cataraqui Canoe Club, where he learned to paddle K1s, K2s, C2s, C4s, and war canoes. He continued his career on the water doing patrol work as a conservation officer with the Department of Lands and Forests, and later the Ministry of Natural Resources, but it wasn’t until he retired that he became interested in building his own sea kayak. Gift copies of Kayakcraft and Canoecraft led him to connect with Ted, who enlisted Denis to help glass a boat. Denis did all his own cutting, milling and lofting for his first construction, a Resolute kayak, and followed it up with a Venture. By the time he built a Freedom 17 in one of Ted’s classes, he was hooked for life. He’s been helping out with courses ever since, and works on our C4 and C15 commissions. He frequently volunteers time and building expertise to non-profits like the Canadian Canoe Museum, Brownsea Base, and the Lakefield Trail Association.

Matt Snell is Bear Mountain’s social media manager. He produces the videos, blog posts, and photography we post online and does upkeep on the website. A writer and outdoor enthusiast, he enjoys combining his interests to make canoe-building resources as accessible as possible. You may have talked to Matt if you’ve reached out via one of our social media channels, though you’ll get Joan and Ted’s expertise on the more complicated building questions. When he’s not online, Matt teaches Communications at Fleming College here in Peterborough. He’s also a musician, so he hopes Ted follows through on his threat to build a banjo someday.

Bruce Kendall has been with Bear Mountain Boats for fifteen years. He’s a diligent and creative bookkeeper, and outside of the canoe business does much of his work for non-profits. He’s the proud owner of a Freedom 17, which he scooped up from one of our building classes. Although not a woodworker himself, Bruce nurses an addiction to woodworking videos and is a constant source of tips and recommendations. Joan and Ted also rely on Bruce to act as tiebreaker in business decisions.

Randy Pfeifer has supported the Bear Mountain Boats Builder Forum for several years. In addition to responding to questions on the forum and sharing his building experience, he is responsible for screening new forum applicants to ensure a safe environment for all users. He has built and restored numerous wooden canoes/kayaks and boats, including Redbird, Freedom 15 and Freedom Solo designs. He also makes lightweight paddles. Randy is a senior engineering executive at IBM with a wide range of experience in leading the development of complete real-time communication systems. He has also had a long relationship with the Boy Scouts of America, where he has served as Scout Master and High Adventure Coordinator, helping youth develop their skills and love of nature. Randy is married with two grown sons (both Eagle Scouts) and lives in Warrenville, Illinois, USA.

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