Posted on January 05 2018
2017 was a big year for Bear Mountain Boats. The move to Westport was our headline event, but there have been other highlights sprinkled throughout that made this list too. As we head into the new year, we thought we'd recap some of our favourite moments from the year that was.
1. Relocating to Westport
As the place where canoe manufacturing began, Peterborough has a real claim to being the cradle of modern Canadian canoe culture. Beginning in 1995, it was the location of both our workshop and our home. We still have many fond memories, including being involved with the founding of the Canadian Canoe Museum, and strong connections to the community. However, in spring of last year it finally came time to downsize and relocate. Our new location is based in Westport, Ontario, a beautiful village on Big Rideau Lake. Next year we hope to get Sparks, our fantail launch, out on the water.
2. Workshop Setup
Despite downsizing from a farmhouse and three-room workshop, Ted still needed plenty of space to build C15 war canoes. That means he spent several weeks getting the new space just as he liked it. We painted the space white to brighten it up and made sure there was a comfy study to put the Moaning Chair in. In warm weather Ted leaves the bay doors open, and he can see deer wandering the nearby field.
We hosted two building workshops this year, which gave us a chance to test out the new space. It lends itself quite well to classes, as it turns out, with our boat designer Steve Killing even sitting in for a session.
Despite the chaos of moving we turned out three war canoes this year. These 30' boats are a foundational element of canoe clubs across Canada, and we're proud to be involved with a such healthy, team-oriented sporting community.
Left: Chris Guydis. Right: Brent Kirkman, Ted Moores, Paul Price
You may be surprised to hear that building 30' canoes isn't easy. Luckily we had excellent help in the shop. First Chris Guydis, a veteran of the Ruta Maya canoe race in Belize, came north to lend a hand. A diligent, detail-oriented builder, Chris was invaluable in helping prepare a C15 for the Trois Rivières Canoe Club. Later, in Westport, Paul Price and Brent Kirkman jumped in to keep us on schedule while Ted recovered from an arm injury. Paul is a beekeeper and log home builder, and Brent is a woodworker and interior designer - both are gifted canoe builders and a pleasure to work with.
When Andrew Szeto called to schedule a canoe kit pickup, he asked if he could bring his camera along. We were familiar with his excellent photography on Instagram, so of course we said yes. Even so, the beautifully crafted video he produced from that visit went above and beyond. Andrew's six-minute interview is one of the best video projects we've been a part of in recent memory, and we highly recommend checking out his other work too. Find him on Instagram or YouTube, or visit his brand page at http://maruthecirclebrand.com.
This year we realized that for all the workshop videos we share online, paddling shots are a comparative rarity. Since customers often ask us how different models perform on the water, we announced the Canoecraft on the Water Video Contest to collect some feedback from builders and paddlers. We're looking forward to sharing the best of those entries in the weeks ahead. Frazer Johnson generously allowed us to share his entry ahead of the official contest close, so his video is linked above.
Randy Pfeifer manages our Builders' Forum. This year he turned us onto Chicago Voyagers, an organization that provides outdoor adventure opportunities to at-risk teens from the Chicago area. We can't think of a better cause than giving youth the chance to bond with the natural world, so we gave a donation to CV. Here's wishing them many adventures in the new year.
Photo credits: 1. Tom Jensen 2. David West 3, 4, 7. Nate Hilsinger (three times congrats!) 5. Kevin Morley 6. Harry Jackson 8. Timm Simon 9. Nate Messenger
Instagram has steadily become the go-to social media platform for boat builders who want to trade photos and tips. It's our most popular profile, too, and here are nine of the most-liked photos of the year. It's important to note that none of these shots come from our workshop - it's the enthusiasm of builders and their willingness to share that helps us spread the word about this incredible craft. Thank you to everyone who sent us pics this year, and please keep building beautiful boats!
Again, we'd like to thank all our friends and customers for their support this past year. Wishing you all the best in 2018,
The Bear Mountain Team