Posted on June 09 2016
Much as we love building and selling canoes, sometimes it can be a slog. Spending all day packaging orders, or feeling your hand go numb after hours of holding a can of varnish, don't rank high on the list of reasons we do this. We rely on the community of builders to make our work meaningful, and this month it was a letter from our customer Jennifer in Pennsylvania that provided that boost.
Jennifer ordered a model canoe kit from us with the intention to propose to her partner with it. It's a sweet gesture, and more touching when you realize that though they're designed to a 1:12 scale, woodstrip models have all the components of a "real" build, including mold, planking, decks, stems, gunnels, thwarts, paddles, fibreglass, and epoxy.
We were in touch with Jennifer as she worked on the model, troubleshooting when the planks weren't sitting on the mold and making sure it all went to plan. You can see from the photos that it did, and more importantly Jennifer's partner Karen said yes. It was such a lovely story we asked if we could share it on our blog, and Jennifer replied with a note that tells the story perfectly:
"Driving home one day I asked my fiancé, Karen, if she'd ever want to marry me. Marriage is not something she saw for herself and she never thought it'd be legal in the US. She asked me if I was asking her and I said I didn't know what to ask with, because I knew she'd never wear a ring. She responded with, 'a canoe.' While I wasn't sure I wanted to ask her to marry me, I knew I had to build a canoe.
A real canoe seemed impractical because she likes kayaking and I like paddle boarding and we have no space for one in our city home. I saw Bear Mountain Boats had a 1:12 model canoe kit and I was sold. As I started the seemingly daunting task of building, I became more sure that I wanted to ask her to marry me. I like putting things together but I have never built something before. The kit and directions were great and made this impossible task seem manageable. I worked on it for 2 1/2 months while she was working at graduate school and kept the kit and materials in my trunk.
I planned a picnic for when she finished school. She was to pick me up from my volunteer job and we were going to sit by the river, where we had our first date. Unfortunately it was a chilly day, so we decided to just walk along the river. We found a place to sit and I reminded her of the conversation we had about marriage a few months back. I asked her if she remembered her response and she did not. I pulled the canoe out of a backpack and told her that she said a canoe is what I could propose with. I told her that the past few months I was working on this canoe so that I could ask her if she'd marry me. She was in shock at first and asked me if I was serious. I told her I was, and she said yes. I made a video of pictures I took at each stage of the building process and showed her after she said yes.
I'm grateful to you all and Joan especially, for the encouragement and support when I got stuck and was frustrated. Best,
Congratulations and all the best to Karen and Jennifer! We were genuinely touched by their kindness in sharing their story. Below are a few more shots of the happy couple and the canoe.