Canadian canoes, a centuries old tradition

Historic canoes

During a holiday in 1880 in New Brunswick, a young American, named Edwin Tappan Adney built a birch bark canoe with a Malecite Indian. Accurately he took note off everything the Malecite taught him. Six decades later, when he died, he was still collecting data. Tappan Adney’s research was massive and resulted in the standard work Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America.

At Freeranger Canoe we build canoes based on these historic models. Some of our canoes probably haven’t been built for decades. We’re proud to be able to construct these time-tested designs and send them off into the world.

Modern technology

The combination of cedar and glass fabric-epoxy gives a watertight, very strong, rigid and lightweight construction. Strip built boats are exceptionally stiff which provides a very efficient energy transfer while paddling. Moreover, they are easy to repair and nearly indestructible if treated properly and attended to correctly.

Wooden canoes have an elegance on the water that is unmatched. They paddle gracefully and are easy to portage. Anyone who has ever paddled a well-designed wooden canoe will tell you that there is no comparison. Once you’ve paddled it, you’ll never look back!

Atikamekw

Malecite

Passamaquoddy

Abenaki

Birch bark canoes and voyageurs

Canoe construction and design were perfected over hundreds if not thousands of years by the North American First Nations. With simple means, such as birch bark and cedar wood they built their elegant and efficient canoes.

Birchbark was an ideal material for canoe construction, being smooth, hard, light, resilient and waterproof. The frames were usually of cedar, soaked in water and bent to the shape of the canoe. The joints were sewn with spruce or white pine roots, which were pulled up, split and boiled.

The art of canoe building was passed on from generation to generation and soon after the colonization the Europeans acknowledged the extraordinary qualities of the boats they came across. The birch bark canoe became the vessel of choice of the voyageurs that opened up the continent for trade.

Canoe maintenance

Our canoes are built for life but just as everything you cherish they require your attention and regular maintenance. Wooden canoes are very strong and stiff. Normal use will result in normal wear. We recommend to give your canoe a very carefull inspection each year and retouch any scratches in the varnish. Trim should be oiled 3 to 4 times a year.

Our canoes can take a beating. Persistently dragging or rubbing against sharp stones, however, will damage the varnish and ultimately the epoxy-glass fabric layer. If such damage occurs, it’s important to fix it without delay. With some skill repairs are easily done yourself, but of course we also provide the necessary assistance and repair service if needed. do contact us if you need assistance.