Posted on March 16 2014
By Peter Feindel
I think it was the fall of 2002 when, on my to a restaurant in Mississauga, Ontario, I passed by an industrial unit with large lettering on one of the windows that read:” Canoe Building Classes”. Inside, I was introduced to Ron Frenette and his company, Canadian Canoes.
Here, I discovered a workshop full of kayaks and canoes under construction and I was immediately hooked.
It had been a plan of mine for several years to acquire a touring kayak which would allow me to really enjoy the paddling opportunities which Ontario’s Georgian Bay has to offer. Rather than purchase a composite (plastic) kayak, I decided to sign up and was pleased to complete a wood strip-epoxy 17’Endeavour under Ron’s supervision and the help of my brother. I then went on to build 2 more Endeavor kayaks and one Resolute kayak in my home workshop.
My business enterprise in Brampton, Ontario sells and services large, industrial wood working machinery. Soon I became involved with Ron making the bead and cove strips. At that time, he was making the strips one at a time which we recognized as not being the most efficient use of his time and space.
After some consideration, we got together with a local milling company, had specialty cutter heads produced and began the industrial production of the strips. Typically, Ron and his helpers would produce a quantity of strips for one canoe in about four hours; using the Weinig moulder, a complete kit is produced in about 10 minutes. These accurately milled strips are the ones marketed by Bear Mountain Boats and Canadian Canoes.
In the lifts of western red cedar which come directly from Vancouver Island in Canada’s most westerly province, there were and are a number of 20 foot planks. But, this is a rarely used dimension so, we had been cutting off two or three feet as 17 and 18 foot lengths are the most common lengths used in this style of construction.
Being in the wood machinery business, I gathered all the off cuts with Ron’s help and prepared them into blanks 3.5 inches wide. I had a customer friend that then finger jointed these pieces and made them into 16’ lengths. The next time Ron was running strips we also ran the finger jointed pieces.
The result was beautiful looking and very strong multi color cedar strips- ‘patchwork’ pattern would be a good description. From one kit, I built a 15’ Ranger canoe using only the finger jointed strips. You can see the result in these photos and, in my opinion, a very beautiful canoe was created and all made with material that otherwise would have ended up in the fireplace or, ‘planking’ salmon fillets on a BBQ!
These finger jointed “green” strips are as strong as solid strips and give a unique look to a canoe or kayak. If this pattern is of interest, you can check the availability at www.bearmountainboats.com under KITS.