The True Story of “The Red Canoe”


Since I retired I have started a hobby / business, part time repairing old Cedar canvas canoes.


This little story actually happened to me.


One morning I got a phone call from a chap named Charlie and he asked me if I could repair his old canoe. He told me his address and I said that I would be there after lunch .When I got to his place, Charlie and his wife, Jean, took me down to the dock and showed me the canoe. Sure enough, it required a new canvas covering. Well, nothing would do, they invited me in for a cup of tea and cookies. After we had discussed the business part, I put the canoe on my car and off I went.


Several weeks late, I returned with Charlie’s canoe and he said it looked like new. I told him to keep it looking good; one has to keep it in a boat house or covered with a good weatherproof tarp. He said he would, but for now could I take it down to the dock which I did. I thanked Charlie and Jean for their business and was off.


Several years went by and Charlie called me again. He explained that the canvas on the canoe needed to be replaced again. I was quite taken aback as a canvas job should last many more years if looked after, so I said I’d come over and take a look.


When I knocked on the door, Charlie took a while to answer and I was starting to wonder if he was home and then the door opened slowly;


“The wheel chair said it all”


After our hello’s I asked how his wife, Jean, was and that was my second shock, s Charlie told me she had passed away three years ago prior to his stroke.


We talked for a while and eventually, the canoe came up. In Charlie’s sad state of health I did not see much point in his request to have his canoe recanvased, but he wanted it done again.

He told me that every morning when he gets up and goes to the window and the red canoe is there on the dock with its memories of when he paddled Jean around the lake.


“It’s all I’ve really got left” he said


This is not a real happy ending, but it did tug at my heart strings, of how an old Red Canvas Canoe could mean so much to a man named “Charlie”


This story is TRUE and it did happen to me.


Doug Farr