Two weeks ago I met with Bob Green, an Oswego County resident, to take photos of his handcrafted replica canoes and Adirondack guide boat. I assumed I would just be taking a few photos, learning a little bit about the craft, and I’d be on my way. Well it just shows you what happens when you assume! I ended up staying for over an hour and learning more about making replica canoes and boats than I imagined… but I was fascinated by every minute of it! The only thing I would change about my visit with Bob was my choice of footwear. I wore heels. (Just imagine wearing heels while you help move heavy canoes around… not the best idea) The best part about Bob’s canoes is that they actually WORK. He takes his canoes and boats out in the water all of the time, making his projects even more worthwhile. If I even attempted to create my own canoe, it would fall apart before it made it in the water (that’s because everything I make uses hot glue or duct tape).
In the 1950’s Bob read an article in “Popular Mechanics” about how to build your own redwood strip canoe. Two months later his canoe was complete and what had started as a trial project became a lifetime hobby. Bob has finished five canoes and a replica Adirondack guide boat, which is his favorite. While he doesn’t sell his replicas, he does share his craft with others. He often does demonstrations for area youth and senior camping programs.
Bob demonstrating how he shapes the canoes
A scanned photo of Bob giving a demonstration to local youth
Now I’m not much of a canoe builder, so talk of hulls, ribs and gunnels left me slightly confused. The best way to show Bob’s masterpieces is through photos. I have posted a photo of each canoe/boat below with details. It is amazing to have somebody with such talent right in our backyard.
The Adirondack Guide Boat:
•Replica of 1905 Virginia Model
•16 ft. long, Cedar strip construction
•52 ribs – made from spruce strips that are steam bent and laminated
•Cherry seats, gunnels and decks
•Pine bottom board
•Seats made from woven synthetic cane
•Outside has fiberglass and 3 coats of epoxy & 3 coats of marine UV varnish
•Inside of boat has 4 coats of marine UV varnish
•Accent strips are made out of spruce and black walnut for color and design
•Handmade yoke on boat is for carrying the canoe
•Took ten months to complete
•Original Adirondack guide boat worth around $20,000.
•Replica boat worth around $10,000 - $15,000
Wabanakee Lake Canoe:
Photo of Bob and his grandson, Nate, taking the Wabanakee out on a Lake
•16 ft. long
•Took approx. 200 - 300 hours to complete
•Very stable on the water
•This canoe is the second Wabankee Lake Canoe he built, the first one was ruined because he left it out in the snow
Details on the left Wee-vera canoe: made of cedar strips and the seats are ash and black walnut with woven synthetic cane
Details on the right Wee-vera canoe: made of cedar strips with cherry trim. Seats are cherry with woven rawhide
Bob taking one of his Wee-veras out on a lake.
•Variation of the “Wee-lassie” which originated in Canton, NY.
•Tough to build because hull has such a compound curve.
•Rides nicely in water.
•The decks were shorter in the original plans, he chose to make them longer.
•Left canoe is made of cedar strips and the seats are ash and black walnut with woven synthetic cane.
•Right canoe is made of cedar strips with cherry trim. Seats are cherry with woven rawhide.
Peterborough Cottage Canoe:
•Dark strips are from the heart of the trunk and light strips are from the outer wood of the trunk
•Gunnels and decks are made from black walnut
You may be thinking, "What the heck is Canoe Golf!?" Well that's what I thought when Bob first mentioned it. Then he showed me this following photo from one of his canoe books. Apparently it was a popular game a long time ago. I guess you stand in your canoe and attempt to hit the ball that is on a floating piece of wood. I'm very disappointed that this game is no longer played because it looks like a blast! So get ready, next summer I am going to round up some people and we are going to play Canoe golf... and you can bet it will be posted about on my blog (if you're lucky we may even dress up like the girls in the photo)!