Friday, July 31, 2009


I was always curious as to the origin of the side channels Rudi and I found in the Conroy Marsh on our paddling trip several weeks ago. They had at least the semblance of being man-made from our perspective on the water, as they were too uniform in width to be natural, and clearly on the aerial view courtesy Google Earth as they stand out distinctly, and no other feature similar to these three ring channels can be found in the Marsh.
I accidentally stumbled upon the answer a few days back, and as it turns out, Ducks Unlimited Canada dredged the channels back in 1982 as some purported method of aiding duck breeding in the marsh (perhaps preventing four legged predators getting at them - But how is that fair?). If you look closely at the photo I have included, the channels were dredged around existing natural hillocks, the south end of the largest being a mammoth slab of granite rising twenty feet out of the Marsh. In any event, there appeared to be some negative aspects to the program, and the dredging was discontinued, whether or not more was planned for the Marsh.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Okay, I am a perfectionist - well, most of the time anyway. I won't even apologize for it, so if for some reason you were expecting one, I have to disappoint you. Here are a few shots of a boat I recently finished, showing the some of the fittings and fasteners on the gunwales. These are Alchemist Legend (Prospector) canoes, being delivered to the Paddle Shack in Gravenhurst tomorrow. So if you happen to become the proud owner of either "YFKLE 99G909" or "YFKLE 100G909" you will notice that even though a lot of work was done by hand, and lined up visually, the spacing and position of things like the bolts through the gunwales and the float tank hatches are virtually perfect. It doesn't actually take a lot of extra time to make sure a completed job makes an exceptional grade as opposed to sloppy, and I think the results are worth it! Just a good eye, and a steady hand, and you get everthing lined up nicely. Unfortunately I didn't have my Nikon Macro lens, so the photographs themselves are a bit pathetic - as I said, most of the time, anywyay!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


On the last Friday in June, I delivered ten canoes to Frontenac Outfitters. As I had to return to Tavistock to pick up the boys, as well as a rowing shell to try out at the cottage, I didn't have any choice but to make a real early run to Kingston, drop the boats, and return to Tavistock. So at 3:30 in the morning, I hauled my butt out of bed, grabbed the cell phone and my wallet, and got in the van and headed out, trailer in tow. It was a fantastic drive, crossing Toronto in the dark before 5am, and watching the sun rise as I headed east on the 401. I arrived just before 8am at Frontenac Outfitters, and within a half hour all ten boats were unloaded. I had a brief chat with Larry, and just as I was about to leave he told me to hang on a bit, and opened the door to his shop. Inside, he looked at his rack of paddles, selected one, and handed it to me. "Here, this is for you, it will fit you well" He said. I was really a bit surprised, so I replied "So officially, you have to tell me how much I owe you for this." To which Larry laughed a bit, and replied "Absolutely nothing Dave, enjoy!" I know a gruelling 10 hour drive leaving hours before dawn is tough, but Jeff pays me fairly well for doing them, and we are talking about probably a $50 paddle here. Wow! It certainly is nice to know something you do is really appreciated.

Friday, July 17, 2009


I recently picked up my other new boat, an H20 Composites Prospector 16 from Frontenac Outfitters. It had been previously lent to them to fill out their rental fleet, and as I had just dropped off four brand new canoes, and we were now within a half dozen boats of filling our 2009 order, Matt had no issue with letting me take it away. This is a fibreglass boat, very light for a glass canoe at 58 lbs, and like the Canadian, is fitted out as a rental, with a standard ash Teal yoke, webbed ash seats, and aluminum handles and thwart. I like the Frontenac Outfitters logo, and will probably leave that on. It handles quite differently than the Canadian, and I was surprised I could actually tell the difference, but it was significant. The Prospector loved to turn, and I guess about a half dozen paddle strokes could turn it in a circle, wheras it would take at least twice as many to turn the Canadian. It also wanted to move off course, yet was easier to return to course with a J-stoke of minimal effort. Probably great for slow little meandering rivers, and lakes where you want to explore the shoreline, rather than open lakes like Carson. I think it will be the Canoe of choice for our August paddle down York River into Conroy Marsh!

Monday, July 13, 2009


As some of my readers will soon come to understand, I am by no means an experienced canoeist yet! So if you happen upon this blog, and wish to provide useful advice, I would love to hear it! Feel free to leave comments by clicking below the relevant post. I am especially interested in hearing from people who might advise me how not to kill myself in case I sound like I am about to embark on something dangerous! Maybe like running class 3 rapids in a canoe with a seven year old bowman?

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I left the cottage today for home, driving a route I had never taken before. Down the 517 out of Combermere, then South at the end headed for Boulter. About two kilometres south of the intersection, the road passed through a little hamlet, and crossed a bridge over the York River. Here I slowed down, and checked the river... Deep, slow, and wide, absolutely perfect!

So that is the second part of the research done for our next big adventure, which will be to put in the York off the Boulter road bridge, paddle the York down about 3 kilometres into the Conroy Marsh, and then the 8 kilometer length of the Marsh. I had earlier called a gentleman in the area who gave me a good idea what to expect on the York River between the put-in and the Marsh, being two sets of small rapids, and how best to negotiate them. Stay tuned for an even bigger adventure with my favorite bowman Rudi sometime in August!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I got away with my little bowman Rudi on a big canoe adventure today, a three hour trip across Negeek Lake and into the Conroy Marsh and back. We drove down the Palmer Rapids Road South of Combermere (Highway 515), and found a cottage access road north of Jewelville that ended near the Southern end of Negeek Lake (Negeek is tha large body of water on the Google Earth map, top left), with a little track maintained by the MNR that led further to a grassy turnaround, and an old boat launch with a short log crib pier (Top photo). Ten minutes later the canoe was in the water and we were paddling across the shallow lake. I had to overcome my ridiculous fear of shallow water - for some reason I get really nervous about what is coming up underneath the boat, and I get the willies when I can see the bottom vegetation and muck. I think it has to do with the fact I would probably freak out if the boat got upset, and I had to swim in all that crap, so I reassured myself that there was no way in hell the Canadian was going to tip over on flat water on a warm, calm summer day!

It was fairly easy to find the entrance to the York River across the lake, up which the Conroy Marsh wandered, and we paddled through the wide river mouth, with a line of steep hills to our right, and most of the marsh and further hills off to the left. By this time I'd overcome my fear of the shallows, and was paddling close to reeds and lilies, not worried about the murky bottom (Middle photo). For about half an hour we paddled Southwest, mostly along the main channel, and then exploring some side channels on the South side of the main.

The side channels were of a consistant width, about thirty feet or so, and were divided by hillocks of probably spongy waterlogged ground, supporting in some cases small stands of trees (Bottom photo). In other areas, some mammoth rock outcroppings rose above the surface, around which these channels formed. Paddling quietly down one, we surprised a Buck, who looked up, decided we were a bit of trouble, and bounced away to the South. Rudi was very excited, as we had just rounded a corner, and the Deer was less than 80 feet away. We also saw a number of geese, a variety of ducks, and a pair of Great Blue Heron. After spending another half hour or so checking out various little channels, we found the main course again, and headed back down river to Negeek Lake, then across and back to the put-in. The canoe handled nicely, stable and predictable, and was quite easy to paddle, even for a relative novice like me. Rudi does have a bit of improving to do, as more often than not his paddle is in the boat, not the water!

Friday, July 3, 2009


H2O Composites Canadian 16-6, being put through her paces by Peter and John on the choppy waters of Carson Lake. The boat is a Kevlar standard, fitted out as a rental.


H2O Composites Canadian 16-6, paddled by Peter and John, arriving at shore after a half hour run on Carson Lake. She certainly is beautiful (and they aren't that bad looking either!)


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