Saturday was not close to the first time this year that I’ve ventured to to southwest section of the province in search of a new (to me) canoe!  I had a plan set up since Wednesday when I made the call regarding a canoe available for sale.  It’s funny how voices come through the phone and you just know when a deal has been done; few and far between are the deals done by someone’s word, anymore.

I knew it would be the better part of the day before I returned home, so the day started off by taking Izzy for an extra long walk.  I’m certain he knew that it would be a solo trip because he didn’t walk me to the garage door when I left.

Rolling across the 401 at 9:00 AM on a Saturday morning, I was amazed at the volume of traffic right out to the 282 exit where traffic came to an abrupt stop due to construction right up to the 278…..yup, my exit!  Oh well, with a zig here and a zag there I rolled on into Kitchener on Bridge St. headed for HandCrafted Canoes.  I could see the canoes on the rack out front and the wooden sign with the bow paddle bent over in a power stroke, let me know I’d found the right address.

I backed the Ram and trailer into the driveway and headed for the door when I saw the reason for this trip.  A Kevlar Speed River, designed by John Winters, sat right out front and while she showed signs of use, she displayed all the right lines for a quick and stable craft, yet capable of packing some gear.

I walked into the showroom and saw several different craft on display along with an assortment of seats and paddles available for sale.  I saw James fly past the shop door and he waved to make sure I knew that he knew I was there.  Introductions were made and out we went to have a look at the Speed River.  This is an asymmetrical hull with a length of 15’11”, width of 35″, bow rocker of 2.5″, stern rocker of 1.75″, center depth of 14.5″, bow height of 21″, and a stern height of 18.5″.  My mind was made up and James gave me a lift setting her up on the trailer for the trip home.

While speaking with James some great knowledge came to light with regard to their warranties and their building procedures.  While I listened it became clear why these canoes look so great.  In the shop the craftsmen follow a strict format in order to maintain the flow of construction.  Premium components come in and are handled the same way for every canoe that goes out the door.  Speaking of which, a customer took delivery of a gorgeous lime green Speed River as I was fastening down mine.  There’s an old saying, “A place for everything and everything in it’s place.”  That sums up both the showroom and the shop.  I thought to myself that I’d be very comfortable regarding any possible warranty work that someone may come up with due to these work procedures.

While working with composites, workers are subject to VOC’s ( volatile organic compounds) which are flat out bad for humans and have contributed to the ozone problems.  Most of us over the years have become familiar with the smell that instantly identifies fibreglass work being done.  HandCrafted Canoe has been building canoes for 12 years and the booth they use has a series of scrubbers and 12 filters in the venting system.  While lesser efficient systems have to set the height of their vents a minimum level ABOVE neighbouring locations, this system can basically vent down to the ground.  Net result is a concern for their staff and the environment which sure sounds like a “win win” situation to me!

Well, canoes don’t come together on their own so I thanked James for his time and a firm hand shake told me this was a good choice in a great canoe.

Having been born in Guelph I got a bit of a chuckle on the way home as my  Speed River bounced down Eramosa Road and onto the bridge to cross over the Speed River.  The trip home across country and off the 400 series highways made it clear to me that I just love what I do; a  chance to meet some great folks, see more of the country side and be able to paddle a variety of canoe designs and learn more about canoes.



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