At a glance, Cheechoo might be mistaken for an inshore fishing or lobster boat and certainly stretches the boundaries of The Canadian Canoe Museum’s collection! This canoe was actually made by James Bay Cree canoe builders at the Rupert House (now Waskaganish) canoe factory in the 1960s - without its prominent wheelhouse or cabin - and carries the classic lines of its type. Despite appearances, these heavy-hulled boats are regarded by The Canadian Canoe Museum as pedigreed canoes, having evolved on the coast of James Bay from the bark canoes of the fur trade into the iconic workboat of the Canadian north.
George Cheechoo, a Moosonee Cree guide and the canoe’s original owner, sold the canoe to Ontario game warden Claude Winters who shipped it south to the shores of Lake Ontario. Winters recognized the seaworthy qualities and shallow draft needed for his line of work and converted the hull into a patrol boat.
Named CHEECHOO for her original owner, Winters fitted it with a cabin, hatches, a spotlight and running lights. Some of the other marvellous aftermarket additions include a navigator’s seat and fuse panel from a Second World War bomber as well as a windshield wiper mechanism from an early Volkswagon bus.