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Our Canoe Story

Hey Canada, is there a canoe in your family? Maybe you have such history in it that it feels like part of the family. We want to know that story. Why does it have a special place in your heart? From June 5 to August 18, we're running a social media contest! Each story you submit will get you one chance to win the prize of the week.

The same story cannot be entered more than once, but each participant can enter as many stories as desired. The museum holds the right to use photos and story content on social media the website. 

To Enter:

1. Post your story on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #OurCanoeStory, and tag @cndncanoemuseum!

2. Post your story on our Facebook page and use the hashtag #OurCanoeStory!

3. Email your submission and photos to jessica.fleury@canoemuseum.ca!


Contest Submissions

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Cathy Tocher – Vancouver to Hawaii

Submitted June 7, 2017

My father Geordie Bryce Tocher dug out a 42 foot canoe and sailed it from Vancouver to Hawaii in 1972.

Myra Huber – Canoeing with Moose

Submitted June 6, 2017

Yes I still have it in my barn. a beautiful orange 18ft Tremblet. favorite story we took 5 canoe trips as a family of 5 in the 70's and early 80's, no gps, no cell phones, just maps, compass and our sense of adventure. Dad is in the stern of the canoe , Mom in front, me in the middle...he says (as we are paddling through a swampy/weedy bit in Northern Ontario) "be really quiet but look to your left Myra" so I do and swimming beside us is a Bull Moose with a full rack...the 4 of us moving in the same direction for about 10 mins...the moose changes direction so do we....30 mins later my Dad brings the cedar strip canoe covered in canvas to shore and starts to loose his mind...( I was 7 and had no idea the danger we were in) In seconds that moose could have destroyed the canoe, and really hurt if not killed us and we were 4 days into the bush with no way of getting help.... but I still remember how cool that moose was swimming beside us. and I am 52 this year!


Lee Hatcher - Battle Axe

Submitted June 20, 2017

    My husband's family canoe weathered so many adventures and storms that she became known as the "Battle Axe." She was so often referred to by that name that eventually her name Battle Axe was painted on her bow.
    She is now a relic, but my husband cannot part with her. She is strung to our rafter's in our garage. He claims that one day she will be lake worthy again.


Mike Ormsby

Submitted June 20, 2017

In the early morning light, just as the world seems to wake up and come alive, the canoe glides over the glass like lake. The beautiful wood canvas hull easily slices through the lake’s surface, water slipping aside almost as if willed, forming undulating wavelets in its wake. Above the ripples, the paddle hovers momentarily like a dragonfly, before dipping down to break the intricate pattern formed. The canoeist seems lost in the moment.

On the wing over the watery expanse an eagle soars, in synchronicity with the man’s journey; as the paddler shifts to miss a rock, the raptor slows to test the wind. The large bird lazily wheels across the horizon, almost touching the rays of the rising sun. Yet his flight seems to keep pace with the canoe below. The eagle rides the air currents while the canoe dances over those of the lake’s surface. As the paddle flashes in the early morning sunlight, dipping once again into the water, the eagle dives to capture his breakfast, a silvery trout. Then, only briefly, do both break the mirror reflecting their seemingly choreographed display. While they never quite meet except for that, it doesn’t stop the dance. One on water, the other in the air, they are partners, each moving rhythmically over a northern vista of rocks and trees and water.

Occasionally, such magical moments happen out on the water. For the canoeist, the lakes and rivers become more than mere passageways. Waterways become vantage points to observe all that is around,  carrying a message of life while still being the very lifeblood of Mother Earth herself. All at once, the paddler is both vessel and prophet, both audience and actor, just by merely venturing out on the water. Paddling these liquid highways takes the canoeist and canoe on a wonderful magical mystery tour, blending into the surrounding natural world.

The paddler is blessed to be able to join in the dance around him for a while. While he watched, the large bird of prey flew off, likely to share his meal of fresh fish with his young brood nesting in a nearby lofty pine. Eventually the canoe glides on. A new dance may soon begin anew


Andre Cloutier – Group of Seven Canoe

June 19, 2017

As a lifelong Group of Seven and Tom Thomson fan, finding and identifying this boat made possible a connection to the artists and their travels that could not be obtained, as none of these boats are known; their survival as a more utilitarian boat made in smaller numbers makes the likelihood of finding one 100+ years later remote. While there are many photos of early travels in which they can be seen, they are almost certainly long gone, rotten away or tossed on the burn pile. For this reason, this boat has become a part of our family as we've begun to replicate it in order to use one in search of the routes taken by the artists and travellers that once did.

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Andre Cloutier – Family Canoe Building

June 21, 2017

The contest mentions canoes that are a part of the family, but I'll bet no one tells of a building form. My kids have watched and helped while this has come together over the last four years , including helping with the first boat pulled from it. In the process they have come to know canoe construction, the group of seven and the canoes place in Canadian culture and history. The form will be theirs if they want to continue to pull a boat from it now and again, for themselves or to help pay for university! They will be able to recount its origins and design, eventually working towards closed gunwale boats as produced in chestnuts earliest days.

Alisha Ragetlie – A Wedding Gift

June 26, 2017

My husband and I received our canoe from many generous friends and family members as a wedding gift. Portaging and camping has been something we have always loved doing together, in northern Ontario. Our canoe is named Gus the Ol' Prospector. Though he hasn't been used in a couple years, we can't wait to bring our young children on many wilderness adventures in the near future.


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Catherine van Warmerdam – Canoe Love Story

July 2, 2017

You could call it our canoe story, or you could call it our love story. Before we had even met, Matthew and I already each had a love of of canoes and backcountry camping. He spent his summers in Muskoka and the Poker Lakes, while I spent mine in Bancroft and various Ontario Parks.

The summer we started dating, I was working as a camp counsellor at an all-girls camp in Algonquin Park. Matthew was awaiting to hear that he had been accepted into Toronto Fire's recruit program. The day after he found out, he drove the four hours to Algonquin (and back, later) to spend my day off with me...one of our first 'real' dates.

He waited at the Cache Lake Landing as I paddled one of Camp Tanamakoon's green canvas cedar strip canoes to meet him. We spent the day at Canisbay, swimming and cooking over a fire. A deerfly had been bothering me all day, and while I was treading water, my hands occupied, I gave it a good whack with my ponytail. Instant whiplash! I could barely move my neck to kiss my new beau goodbye, never mind paddle the few kilometres back to camp! We sent each other love letters in the mail every single week until I came home.

From then on, we were adventure partners for life. We spent the next few years visiting his family cottage in Muskoka, and purchased a home near Rice Lake and the Ganaraska Forest. We got engaged and planned a camp-themed wedding, complete with the signature Hudson's Bay colours. We planned to borrow his Dad's canoe to complete a three-part canoe trip honeymoon to Algonquin Park, Lake Temagami, and the French River.

To our absolute surprise, midway through our wedding reception, twenty or so of our guests disappeared out onto the patio...only to return with a beautiful cream coloured sixteen foot Swift Prospector! What a gift!!! We were absolutely elated. They had even gotten a decal made up with our wedding slogan, Camp van Monaghan (a mix of our last names).

We christened her 'The LilyDipper' with apple cider and champagne on a dusk paddle on Rice Lake. She came with us on all of our honeymoon adventures, from the Tom Thomson cairn on Canoe Lake, to visiting our square-dancing friends at Camp Wanapitei, to the windy French River.

We can't wait for all the adventures we will have with this canoe - all the places we go, all the things we will see, and all the dogs and kids we will tote around. Like I said - our canoe story is our love story, and we hope it lasts many, many more years!


Wendy Thomas - Rhythmic Paddling

July 12, 2017

While Expo 67 was magic, with the world coming to Montreal, one of my most vivid memories of Canada’s Centennial Year is of an event that took place on the Lake of Two Mountains (a widening of the Ottawa River), west of Montreal, one sunny afternoon when my parents and I were sailing. Looking upriver, we noticed some moving shapes on the water. As they drew nearer, we realized they were several canoes, and the canoeists were dressed as coureurs de bois in their toques and brightly coloured ceintures flechées. This was the Centennial Voyageur Canoe Pageant, a race from Rocky Mountain House to Expo. We watched them approach with great excitement, impressed by their powerful rhythmic paddling. My father then went to the stern of the boat, removed the Canadian flag, went up to the bow, and dipped the flag to honour the canoeists. As the sun glinted off the paddles, and without missing a beat, the canoeists raised their paddles in perfect unison, pausing ever so briefly to acknowledge us, and then raced past. I have chills remembering that day when I was transported to an earlier time, feeling a connection with the river as a highway, with all the peoples who had travelled it in earlier times, and with the vastness of this beautiful country.


Mark Adams - Walter Walker Canoe

July 17, 2017

This is a bit of a two part story, half being not Canadian. 

In 1976, my father bought a 1943 Old Town Otca. It was purchased in Denver Colorado. He and I picked it up, and on the way back up to Laramie, WY, we put it in the water. The canvas was so old and cracked, it leaked like a sieve. My dad stripped off the canvas, and hung it up in the garage. I finally restored it in 1989. It was the first of many canoes I've restored, and I still own it. 

Now, the Canadian part. In 1985, I was working as a manager for Dominos Pizza. I had a bit of disposable income for a 21 year old kid. So, what did I want to do with it? Buy a Walter Walker, of course! As I recall, Walter had just retired. I contacted Peel Marine, and found that bit out too late. 

Fast forward to 2010. I got a Walter Walker! Then, I got another! They are both 16' canoes, but the sheet is completely different. One has the gradual upsweep, while the other is very abrupt. (Gordon vs ??) One has Babiche seats, and the other cane. 

Years ago, I was friends with a fellow that knew Walter. Via this friend, I was able to get two paddles, carved by Walter to my desired lengths. 


While I'm not Canadian, the magic of a Canadian Cedarstrip called to me a long time ago.


Bernd Krueger – Canoe Photographs

July 28, 2017

In 1991 Eganville was celebrating its' centennial and l was asked to produce a series of photographs to illustrate a special edition of the newspaper. For one of them, l enlisted my soon-to-be bride, a neighbour, and a beautifully restored canoe from another neighbour. Just over a quarter-century later, Elizabeth and l are still married and continue to enjoy paddling together, and the neighbours are still our neighbours. The canoe unfortunately fell victim to a very large white pine that fell directly onto the shed in which the canoe was stored for the winter. Despite all hope, its' remains were declared unsalvageable.

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Joe Krushelnicki - 3rd Generation Paddler

August 4, 2017

This is a Peterborough cedar strip my grandpa bought used in the '60's I'm now the 3rd generation using it!


        Bernie & Jim Hollett - Paddling for Love

                            August 11, 2017

In 1962 I met my husband in Algonquin park.  He was a forest ranger at South Tea and my Mom, brother and I were camping there.  He would come at nights for my Mom's good cooking and before the two vacation weeks were up we were arranging to see each other.  His mother sent him to school in Toronto and I lived in Etobicoke.  The next summer I worked at Bartlett Lodge and he worked at South Tea again.  Any night we could get off we would meet at Bartlett's dock and spend a few hours talking.  Getting across the water in the evening was easy but going home was another thing.  He was a country boy but I grew up in the city and did not know anything about canoes.  Each night we would borrow a canoe about 11 pm. and I would attempt to zig-zag my way across the lake.  He would park his car on the top of the hill and aim his lights in my direction as it was pitch black on the lake.  Every now and then I could hear a boat with no lights coming straight at me.  I was really afraid every time I started across the lake but I always seemed to make it.  Never on target but pulling myself along the shore I would finally make it to the dock.

We were married four years later and went every year on a two week canoe trip all over Ontario-Algonquin Interior, Quetico, and many northern lakes with our three children.  The first year we took the two younger children, one carried the bread and the other carried the cutlery.  They came willingly every year even when it rained for two straight weeks and the mosquitoes were eating us alive but we all laugh about it now.  It is the best way to raise kids to appreciate life and nature.  The last trip we went as a family was when they were 16-18 yrs. with their boy friends and now husbands and wives.  They are now taking theirown families on canoe trips and teaching them the beauty and performance of the stillness in a canoe.