Rebuilding Pat’s canoe: remembering our founder

It’s been several years since Pat Paas, the founder of Crux Books, passed away. Many knew Pat as the Crux eccentric bookseller, some as an avid fly fisherman, but only few would have known he had been rebuilding his grandfathers canoe with his good friend Dave.
I felt honoured when Pat’s widow, Jocelyn, offered me Pat’s partly rebuilt canoe and the opportunity to take over the project. I enjoyed canoeing as a young man and loved working with my hands, so the opportunity to restore a heritage canoe was right down my alley. One thing led to another and before long I convinced my nephew Michael to tackle this project with me.  With great excitement, and grandiose plans, Michael and I drove to Dave’s house to pick up our prize. Visions of a gleaming canoe, the gentle lapping of water drumming against the dazzling newly painted canvas, danced in our heads. Alas, this was quickly shattered when we arrived as we stared at the stark and faded hull, replete with several cracked ribs and even more holes.

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“Wow” I said to Michael, admittedly dejected, “this is going to be a ton of work.”  After Dave explained just how much work he and Pat had done to get the canoe to this particular condition, our enthusiasm quickly returned.  With our heads full of renewed eagerness, after getting a crash course from Dave, we transported the “canoe” to my sister’s cottage.  And that is exactly where it has resided for two years, in exactly the same condition.  What do they say about the best laid plans of mice and overzealous canoe restorers?

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Which brings us to 2013.  Yes folks… this is the year.  My excitement has returned and I am now determined, eager, and yes still slightly overzealous to finally restore this treasure.  Which is one reason I also agreed to write this blog.  I am now committed to this project and figure that if I also commit to writing about it, and supplying evidence of progress along the way, it may come to fruition.

Contacting the Canadian Canoe Museum to find a professional restorer I received encouragement from the curator who was pleased this canoe was going to get a second life.  (Perhaps I should name it Lazarus when it actually floats!)  My first intention was to find a professional to simply do the work, without costing an arm and a leg of course.  As I browsed the list of professionals, on the link I received from the curator, I came across the Carlisle Canoe Company.  Browsing their site, the excitement of doing the job myself quickly returned.  Here was a place where I could actually do the work–guided by a canoe restoration professional, of course–where all the tools are available and where needed materials and parts are custom cut for the job.  I’m still hoping it won’t cost an arm and a leg, but also not too many hammered thumbs as well.

Visions from years ago quickly returned.  Ah… the joy and freedom of paddling over glistening quiet waters in a gleaming restored piece of history… the gentle call of the loon in the distance… wait a sec… who told that seagull it could fly overhead and drop…  Oh well, nothing a good cleaning can’t take care of.  After all, the plan now is to try to secure a place for my treasure at the Toronto Sailing and Canoe Club after all is done, seagulls and all.

I quickly connected with Roger, at Carlisle Canoe, and have now committed to spending at least the first week of my upcoming vacation bringing needed life back to a beautiful (at least I hope so when it’s finished) piece of history.  The project start date is Saturday July 27th, 2013.  That’s not only this year, but this week!

So, stay tuned.  More to come.  And please pray for me (and my thumbs).

Blessings, Ed

Heritage Canoe Series next

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