Wood & canvas, and Pusser's Rum

It’s a rainy Friday night, I don’t have a date, and I’m running low on Pusser’s. So I thought I’d ast a Question, actually two, no three:

Do you like wood and canvas canoes? If you could buy a sweet little 15’ wood and canvas tripper for the same price of a kevlar solo, would you do it? Would you be interested in attending a wood & canvas paddle weekend sometime next spring, somewheres around Southwestern Virginia, Eastern Tennessee, Northwest North Carolina?

Jes curious, thet’s all

Gad Zooks!

– Last Updated: Oct-28-06 12:56 PM EST –

Ah's gets wetdreams (well, at me age they be more like "dust" dreams) about wood an' canvas canoos. Me' first canoo waar a 1928 OT Guide. Now ah's gots a restored 1936 OT OTCA an' a waiting-ta-be-restored 1924 OTCA on me rack. Always dreamin' 'bout dat Chestnut "Fort" Prospector dat be me ultimate canoo. Yer neck o' de woods be a long pilgrimage fro' deez here Joisey Territories, but hope ye gits some W/C folks ta come.

Fat Elmo

Now what about the Pusser’s rum ??
I’ll join you just for a “painkiller” or two!



Buford Pusser ain’t walking tall

In my humble opinion wood ‘n canvas are the “top-shelf” hull materials for a canoe in terms of “feel” while paddling. A transition/cross between native bark canoes and European construction techniques these boats represent the best of both worlds. Of course hull design is a very important issue as well. No matter how much I like a construction technique the hull shape can make all the difference in the world.

Personally I’m a major fan of the Tom MacKenzie Loon Works wood & canvas canoes designed by David Yost – most are solo boats. They’re such a delight to paddle! IMHO they’re the ultimate FreeStyle canoe bar none. Someday… someday…

Over the last several years (as I age) I’ve become increasing concerned with weight while tripping. These days I prefer ultra-light Kevlar canoes when I hit the portage trail. The less I have to lug over the hill the better. On the other hand when I’m out “muddin” in rock and log infested small streams where “drag-overs” are the rule I like ABS a lot. As much as I like cedar/canvas canoes I don’t see using them much in those situations.

But for FreeStyle or using on lakes for day-tripping… You bet!

Interestingly while the costs of materials for Kevlar/resin canoes has skyrocketed over the past few years the cost of a well crafted cedar canvas canoe is no longer all that much more. Even though cedar/canvas canoes are WAY more expensive to produce in terms of labor the costs of materials for composites is leveling the scale.

As to the rum… I don’t drink much anymore… …it’s the headaches the day after ya know… …yet another effect of the aging process… sigh… - R

Have a 40 year old, restored, Chestnut Pal. Love it.

Don’t like rum; prefer J.W. Dundee, and Newcastle Ale.

The expenses of a roundtrip to any location mentioned would cost me about half of what I paid for my most recent canoe purchase.

So, as much as I would like to view, photograph, and hopefully test paddle a few different wood/canvas canoes…probably not gonna happen.


wood canvas
I have a 14’ “Red Fox” from Red River Canoes. The craftmanship is outstanding. Douglas Ingram’s work is second to none. The wood canvas canoes are quiet and such a pleasure to paddle. Red River now makes a 15’ Red Fox which sounds perfect for what your looking for. I would do it but I’m too far away. Check this out…http://www.redrivercanoe.ca/

Would be great to visit Manitoba and
pick up a new W&C from Doug Ingram and head off into the lakes and streams west of Quetico. Far less crowded than Quetico/BWCA and no permits. Only another 1/2 day drive north of Ely to get to true wilderness.

My Loonworks Aria 14’ solo came to me as a lovingly used freestyle canoe, and at a price that I felt was quite reasonable, given that new ones start at $4000. My Aria with Cherry and Spruce rails, and Purpleheart thwarts and decks weighs just a tad under 40 pounds, but for some reason it feels lighter, very easy to portage. I’ve paddled the composite cousin the Bell Wildfire, and IMHO the Aria is faster, glides further, holds a line better, but doesn’t heel over and turn with quite the same pizzazz as the Wildfire will. I bought the Aria to use for freestyle and as a solo lake tripper in the Adirondacks. She came with a quart of paint to match the hull color, so keeping her looking new will be pretty easy if I’m just a little bit careful. But I’m just as careful with my kevlar canoes, and it’s much harder to fix the scratches on them.

Here’s another link to a W&C builder that has two solo models. Alex Comb at Stewart River Boatworks also offers classes, and you take the canoe home. For a week of your time and $1500 you could have a masterpiece.


I’ll start looking for a good place here in Southern Appalachia to hold the Wood and Canvas Rendezvous. If anybody has a place in mind let me know.

Two celebrities that have signed up so far are Tom Mackenzie, Loonworks, and Mike McCrea from Compositeville. For those of you who don’t know Mike, he’s the one that wrote that zany article in Paddler Magazine about turtles, Blatz Beer and Fried Armadillo. and yes Mike, by all means bring your composites. I’ll have several of mine there as well.

But what about Pussers Rum?

No problem, I just picked up a new
bottle of Pusser’s, should get me through the weekend. Plenty of rain last night and all the rivers are running wide open but dang cold and 30 mph winds have pretty much got me grounded for today. We’re hoping it will calm down so we can run the Jackson tomorrow.

Mike, the article wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting if you hadn’t thrown in the Blatz and armadillo components, so I think you get credit for at least 1/2 the story:)

at a loss to comparison
You have to jump on a Wildfire to get the rail to the water.

The Aria is much more of an even heeler over with less effort. Its a great old mans/old ladys canoe.

Now when is this ole event going to happen?

Thought Tom was doing the reloonion in May in SC.


proud user and occasional accidental misuser of one Nakoma,one Aria, and one Duet.

Pusser’s Rum is a classy drink
and seems to go well with beautiful wood and canvas canoes. Brings out the best in people:)

I’ll check with Tom on the date for the Reloonian and factor that into the timing for the Wood Canoe Rendezvous '07

Wood Canvas and Tripping
I like the wood canvas canoes, and although I enjoy the lightness of a composite canoe, I still trip with wood canvas.

Right now I have a 16’ Chestnut Pal, and up until early Sept of this year, I also had a 15’ Chestnut Chum set up as solo. It weighed about 58lbs and was a nice canoe to paddle/trip in


That picture was taken about an hour before I wrapped it around a rock on the Motreal River in northern Ontario. (long painful story)

The good news is I found the plans for the Chum from Carring Place Canoe Works and I’m currently building a form to be able to build my own Chums, wood canvas.

I will never build a canoe the likes of a Loonworks, but mine will be the type you can trip all day in and admire in the evening while sipping Pusser’s in camp.


yes, yes, probably not
How can anyone not like wood/canvas boats?

I’ve got an Aria too…just love it, and like it better with the dog than without…it loves the weight. Mine’s under 40 pounds and gets plenty of use and I totally agree that it rolls over much more easily and smoothly than a Wildfire. I got “lucky”…it seemed magnetically attracted to rocks from day #1, so I got my first scratch on my first day - down by all of you where the lakes are clear with red clay bottoms but random chunks of quarts are strewn about in case one just bought a new Aria.

I still remember paddling both the Duet and the MY PAL (spelling?)…I loved both boats so much that I never had a chance of deciding between the two and to this day I lust after both of them strongly and equally.

If you rub down the wood w/ Pussers…
…it’ll prevent dry rot.

This is a good laugh

“so I got my first scratch on my first day - down by all of you where the lakes are clear with red clay bottoms but random chunks of quarts are strewn about in case one just bought a new Aria.”

This is a nice southern phenom: random chunks of quarts…maybe Southern Comfort or Bud Lite?

Great photos Beavertail
thanks for posting them, I feel really badly that your beautiful Chum was wrecked. That must have been a heart wrenching moment for you! Maybe you’ll tell us the story? Did you have to walk out?

BTW, wouldn’t it be great if one of you wood and canvas builders could start making a “Everyman’s Wood and Canvas”? Not a real fancy one that costs $3000 and up, just a well built, hard working, not too heavy canoe that we can afford to take it on the river and we can repair ourselves when needed? Actually, a 15’ solo built for fast paddling lake camping and a 16’ tandem along the same lines would be good. Jes day dreamin’ :)And you’re absolutely 100% right about sitting at evening with the firelight shining on the canoe and a snifter of Pusser’s, yeah, that’s a good visual, throw in a couple loons out on the lake and walleye fillets on the grill and that would be heaven.

Wood boat rendezvous Spring '07
Kayaks and composites are always welcome at a canoe gathering. I used to kayak too, and still have my Wavesport Diesel sitting in the barn for an occasional quickie. I still catch myself staring after sea kayaks on car racks as they go by. I live too far from the sea and big lakes to have one, but I still admire them.

Wind kept me off the river again today so I surfed around a bit and found some campgrounds near Bristol in Northeastern Tennessee. Cherokee Lake and South Holston Lake. Maybe Tom will merge his reloonian in with the rendezvous?

BTW, I just realized this has turned into a getting together and going paddling topic, so I’m moving over there.

thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts. I just checked the map Bob and the Missouri line is 400 miles from Bristol, TN. Where are you in Missouri? Maybe you can still make it?