In preparation for a season of canoe trips, my two sons and I signed up for a paddle making workshop.  I have always been interested in building my own canoe.  I thought I should start small and carve a canoe paddle first.  We met up my fellow camping and canoeing enthusiast Scott Jordan in the lower level of a barn, just  a few minutes between Guelph and Elora (Ontario) on a brisk early Saturday winter morning.  Leaving at 7:00 in the morning is usually late for any canoe related trips for us.  As the sun rose and shone bright, driving in a warm truck, -15 outside, the anticipation of creating a bit of family history was enough to have started the journey at 4:00AM if necessary.  You also must understand our excitement – we have always used aluminum/plastic paddles.

Scott Jordan, Nicolaas Phillips, Daryl Phillips & Mackenzie Phillips standing with our finished canoe paddles.

In this cosy barn/workshop we spent the day learning the ins and outs of the canoe paddle.  The photo above shows us proudly displaying our unfinished finished paddles.  We started the process by pre-selecting the style or shape of paddle during registration.  We carved a Voyager, 2 Trippers and a Bruce Smith Classic.

Surprisingly we used very few tools to make our master pieces: bench vice, pencil, scale, spoke shave, rasp, file and sand paper.  The environment was inspiring with many finished paddles neatly hung on a wall, a couple of in-progress cedar strip canoes, bright sun beaming through small barn windows, shelves full of hand tools and by the end of the day a floor full of cherry wood shavings.  For more information on this workshop, here is a link to Bruce Smith’s website.  I highly recommend this workshop.

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