Following a solo trip through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park in the early 1990's, I stopped at Joe Seliga's canoe building shop in Ely, Minnesota - It was "then and there" that I fell in love with the wood-canvas canoe. Little did I know that less than a decade later I would be delivering cedar and ash cants to Joe and building and restoring Wood-Canvas canoes at North House Folk School with renowned professional builder and "canoe artist" Jeanne Bourquin. As an engagement present to ourselves, Meagen and I built our canoe and paddled it in the Boundary Waters the autumn before our marriage. As recently as 2019, Tom and Jeanne taught a Wood-Canvas canoe building class at North House Folk School, with three completed canoes (unpainted) leaving the shop in 14 days. Stay tuned for upcoming classes at North House, but I won't be traveling to teach until the Covid pandemic is behind us.
Still more dream than reality at this point, Wisdom River Boatworks in Montana is getting closer to fruition. Getting the shop up to speed after the move from the Flathead to the Big Hole Valley has been the priority, with an emphasis on Timber Framing. Construction of a "form" - the foundation on which a Wood-Canvas canoe is built, is a priority for 2021. Opportunities to "Build Your Own," are in the not so distant future.
"There is magic in the feel of a paddle and the movement of a canoe, a magic compounded of distance, adventure, solitude, and peace. The way of a canoe is the way of the wilderness and of a freedom almost forgotten. It is an antidote to insecurity, the open door to waterways of ages past and a way of life with profound and abiding satisfactions." -Sigurd Olson
(Birch Bark Canoe built by Kyle "Lindy" Lind, Wood-Canvas Canoe built by Meagen & Tom Healy) Photo by Tom Healy