ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR BOAT…

Built with care and at­ten­tion, this hand­made cedar-strip ca­noe is a thing of beauty

More of Our Canada - - Crafty Canadians - by Jan­ice Storch, High River, Alta.

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. ■

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