I have taught the ways of the wilderness for well over thirty years and have authored a novel which dives deep into the shadows which follow you as you traverse wilderness trails. It is my hope to reach as many people as possible to tell everyone that the wilderness is not a place to be wary of. It is the only place where a person can dig deep into their soul and find that which is hidden to them by modern day society.
~ R.G. Wright / Hawks Shadow

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Restoration of a 1956 Peterborough Canoe.

©R.G.Wright
Canoes are the quintessential water craft of the Canadian wilderness. These little vessels were used as a primary means of travel well into the 1800's by people who lived along the waterways located throughout the country. 

©R.G.Wright
The canoe depicted here was built by the Peterborough Canoe Company in 1956. They named her the Minetta. This canoe has a mid-ship depth of 30.5 cm. (12 Inches) and a beam of 84 cm. (33 Inches) and she is 457 cm. (15 ft.) long.  She has rocker and tumblehome  designed into her hull which makes this little boat a thrill to paddle, but you have to be careful because she can be real touchy and dump you if she's not treated right.  

I found her in a carport where she was being used to hold firewood. The canvas cover was rotted and her ribs were in danger of splitting. 

I re-canvased her within a few days of getting the canoe home. I did a haphazard job yet she carried my son and I on several long canoe trips without complaint.  

I decided to strip the canoe down to it's ribs and refinish it properly. The picture above depicts the extent of hull rot that I had to carve out of her. 

©R.G.Wright

After extensive repair to ribs, keel, thwarts and gunwales, I sanded her down and decided to add a thin coat of fiberglass cloth to her stern and bow. I do realize this is an affront to canoe craftsman; however, I never professed to be a craftsman.

©R.G.Wright

With the ribs repaired and the planking back in place; it was time to put the canvas on. I rigged up a stretcher using ratchet straps and pulled the canvas as tight as I possibly could. Then I slipped the canvas over the canoe's hull and tacked it in place. 


©R.G.Wright

©R.G.Wright

The next stage was to paint a canvas sealer over the hull to ensure the canoe would be water tight. 


©R.G.Wright


©R.G.Wright
As the canvas dried, I had to reinstall the old seats to ensure upper hull integrity. 


©R.G.Wright

My next task was to install the new gunwales which was a task in and of itself. I had to steam the wood in order to obtain the various bends required to fit the hull.  Then I varnished the canoe with several coats of high performance marine grade varnish. This step had to be done with great care and patience. Mistakes here would make or break the finished product. 


©R.G.Wright

The new seats were then installed along with a new yolk. 



©R.G.Wright

The final stage of the rebuild was painting the hull. This again was accomplished using high grade marine paint and a heap-load of patience. 

The very last stage was to apply the Peterborough decals to the decks and the brass prow strips to the bow and stern.  

©R.G.Wright

The moment had come; after several months of patient work, I lowered her into the water and held my breath. Gently pushed by a slight wind she responded by trying to weather vane. She felt alive.
I climbed into her bow and faced the stern. Plunging my paddle deep into the water I pulled the canoe up to hull speed and fell in love with the little boat that was once used as a fire-wood holder. 
She responded to my influence like a well trained horse, turning on a dime with a deft stroke of my paddle we returned to the center of the pond and I laid in her hull for well over an hour. I wanted to feel my pulse mesh with the hull. To say that I was elated would be an understatement. 


©R.G.Wright


©R.G.Wright


©R.G.Wright

This canoe paddles like a dream and is the fastest boat I have ever paddled. She sheds high waves due to her tumblehome and she can carry a heavy load without complaining. The designers of this canoe knew exactly what they were doing. 

The Peterborough Minetta was produced between 1948 and 1963. The model number is 1815 followed by the serial number. Unfortunately the numbers were part of the rot I had to cut out on this one. I will never know her true build date.  


©R.G.Wright

 Wood canvas boats are my favorite, as I stated before, no other canoe moves like them. I often tell people that these boats feel alive when you are in them. 

My average trip length is a minimum of 130 Km. with many portages. I refuse to use my Minetta on such journeys - she is tough but the work I put into her was so extensive I don't want to repeat it. 

I take her off the rack when I want to cruise a wilderness lake and limit portages to a bare minimum. She is quiet and swift, allowing me to pass unseen by campers as they sit around a fire as the stars circle Polaris. 


2 comments:

  1. so thats what happened to my canoe.I would like it back please,now that you have done such a magnificent job.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Restoring a canoe is a time consuming task and nothing can be rushed. It is so gratifying once you climb into the hull and paddle away from shore; that is of coarse as long as it floats! Thank you for your comment. Happy Paddling.

    ReplyDelete

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