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Builder Stories: Family Project by William John Beyette

Some of the most consistently inspiring stories we hear about at Bear Mountain are multi-generational. On the one hand, it’s great to see woodworkers spending quality time on a meaningful undertaking like canoebuilding, passing on skills to their kids and grandkids. On the other, knowing that younger people are engaged in the craft speaks to its enduring vitality and appeal. William John Beyette recently sent us a prime example of a successful family project.

 William was drawn to the Bob’s Special after seeing an older cousin’s model decades ago. The name stuck in his mind, and finding himself retired and stuck at home through the pandemic, grabbed a copy of Canoecraft and rekindled his interest. His granddaughter Zara had been his “fishing companion and helper since she could walk,” so the pair sourced some red cedar planking and got underway.

As an apprentice electrician, Zara was a confident tool user and William reports her sometimes taking the lead as the project progressed. The pair trimmed their Bob’s Special with ash gunwales and cherry decks, completing the beautiful canoe seen below over the summer. Like many people, they found some solace in the woodshop during a trying time. In William’s words, “Zara working on this with me is probably the best thing that’s happened during this last year.”

 It’s not hard to see why – enjoy William and Zara’s progress and launch photos below!

William John Beyette works with a chisel near the stems of a nearly-planked Bob's Special canoe
Bob's Special canoe on strongback ready to be sanded
William John Beyette and granddaughter Zara apply epoxy to fibreglass the hull of a Bob's Special canoe
Bob's Special canoe building progress shot showing inner gunwales clamped on
A young woman sands the blade of a canoe paddle
A young woman vacuums the inside of a canoe A completed Bob's Special wooden canoe floats in shallow water
William John Beyette and granddaughter Zara get into their newly built Bob's Special canoe beside a dock

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