ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR BOAT…
Built with care and attention, this handmade cedar-strip canoe is a thing of beauty
Here in High River we are a tad sensitive to all things water related, so when my neighbour Ray Aspinall began building a canoe in his garage, I wondered if he knew something I did not!
Ray is a retired farmer from Estevan, Sask., who moved to High River approximately five years ago. Looking for the latest project in his retirement, Ray took an interest when his younger brother built a cedar-strip canoe and challenged Ray to build one, too. Ray thought, why not? And in the spring of 2016, he began this labour of love.
The 16-foot canoe is based on plans from Bear Mountain Boats and took Ray approximately 220 hours to complete
He used 18-foot lengths of 1 x 6 cedar planks and tediously ripped them into quarter-inch strips with a table saw, which he bent and formed to the ca- noe moulds. Once all the strips were placed, he began the multi-stage finishing process involving fibreglass, epoxy, urethane and endless hours of sanding both inside and out, which has resulted in a silky smooth, water-tight finish.
The canoe is made predominantly of cedar, but the stems and seats are ash and the gunwhales are spruce and oak.
So far, the canoe has cost Ray approximately $1,200, and while he admits that’s not as cheap as a canoe from a store, he beams when he says not much beats the pride and satisfaction of having built this himself.
The canoe has not yet made its maiden voyage, but Ray made paddles for it this winter and as soon as the ice melts off the lake, I’m sure I will see my neighbour headed out to test his masterpiece. ■