Tom-in-his-home-made-canoe

Tom in his home-made canoe


The Canoe 

As a 1950’s U of Toronto student  my attitude to monogamy was that if I was going to spend my whole life with one man he’d better not be boring. So when I spied a guy from Skule (the illiterate Engineering School on campus) sitting in the Varsity (student newspaper) office using a slide rule to choose type for headlines, I thought he might do. Further research revealed he spoke English with no accent although fresh off the boat from an exotic country, played the violin and skied slalom. In a chance encounter his dark eyes almost sent me reeling backwards down the steep, narrow staircase to where we put the paper to bed. I was ‘night editor’ and he was ‘in charge’.

Fifteen years, seven moves, three kids and multiple garden-home neighborhood squabbles later, we wanted our own house. Moonlighting by freelancing was the only practical answer and that’s why he built a canoe.

Down Payment on the American Dream of Owning a Home
Tom was inspired by curator John Landen  at the Centennial Museum in Owen Sound who built birch bark canoes like his Algonquin ancestors had, and by the book Bark Canoes & Skin Boats of North America. He aimed to figure out how to make a canoe out of modern materials but traditional methods without sacrificing the original swiftness and beauty.
He drew up the plans and, with friends who also wanted to have canoes, created five lightweight, curvaceous craft out of thin plywood and fiberglass. His method was to cut gores and sew them to provide the shape, not with spruce vines for lacing as the aboriginals did but with nylon string. Popular Mechanics bought the story and pictures for $600, the first money we could put aside towards a down payment of $3000 on our dream home. We purchased it a few years later and still live in it.

This  story and more are written up in A Book of Kells, Growing Up in an Ego Void. Stay tuned for my next blog with lots of images and explanations of how the canoe was built.

Thank you for dr0pping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertain. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void,  Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church on Amazon,  Goodreads or my website.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

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