Over the years, my wife
Joanna, and I have repaired and restored many canoes and
boats. Some from as far away as Missouri
in the United States, Sudbury, Ontario,
although, most of our work comes from the Kawartha
The Peterborough Canoe Company
flourished here in the early 1900's and many
of our restorations are from this former company.
We do take pride in restoring
any and all of these old treasures, and of course
nothing but premium materials, paints, and varnishes are used.
Doug Farr grew up around
water. His family had a cottage on Rice
Lake and that's where his
love of canoes began. In 1984, he and his wife purchased a lot on Front Street in
Bobcaygeon and spent 7 or 8 years clearing and building their retirement home.
At age 53, Doug retired and
took a canoe building and repairing course and delved into doing something he
found really enjoying. “I wanted something to keep my mind active and
would also be something I like doing” says Doug.
One of the first big canoe
restoration projects to come Doug's way was a 14 foot Chestnut Canoe,
Prospector model. Although the canoe was spotted in someone's backyard with a
pile of dirt beside it, it was rescued by Roger MacGregor,
now author of a book called, When The Chestnut Was In
Flower. Destined to become a flowerbed, the canoe was rescued and swapped for
an old dory.
Chestnut canoes, crafted in New Brunswick in the
early 1900's, came with floatation devices called sponsons.
Although Doug had never seen these before, and had never seen a canoe in such
rough shape, he eventually agreed to take on the job and bring the canoe back
to its original condition. “I knew there wasn't anything wrong that I
couldn't repair,” says Doug. Although it took months, and the owner
decided not to put the sponsons back on, Doug
completed the job and owner used the Chestnut to canoe the New Brunswick rivers
that he had canoed with his dad years before. Another customer brought in his
wife's grandfather's Peterborough
canoe. The husband asked Doug to restore it and put as a surprise for his wife,
the words: 'In Memory of...(the grandfather)' on it.
“When the wife saw it, it was an emotional moment, very touching,' says
Doug. “It's those stories,” he adds, “that are the real
“Chestnut and Peterborough are the Cadillac of canoes,” explains Doug, adding
that, “wooden canoes are something of a rarity now.” Many of the
canoes brought to him are from the 1920s, '30s, and '40s, when canoeing was a
very popular activity. Canoes have come to him from Sudbury,
Quebec and the United States. Most times the
repairs are to replace canvas, broken ribbing or tips rotted from resting on
the ground. Doug has even developed his own filler for the canvas, because as
he says, “you want the canvas to last.” Still, he advises that the
life of a canoe depends entirely on how it is cared for. “A canoe stored
outside won't last near as long it it's not covered with a good waterproof