The Story of a Canoe
1978 - 2009
In the fall of 1977, Bob and Diana moved to Deep River after Bob finally ran out of university courses to take. In the spring of 1978 we made two significant purchases: a Datsun 510 station wagon, and a 15 ft lightweight Grumman canoe. The canoe cost $475.00 before taxes; the Datsun considerably more. We still have the canoe; the Datsun is long gone.
By the standards of the time, a 15 ft Grumman lightweight canoe was an excellent canoe for tripping in Algonquin Park. At 55 lb, with paddles lashed in to serve as a yoke, it was easy to portage. Its carrying capacity was adequate, but it was certainly not an easy paddling canoe when loaded up with two people and provisions for a twelve day trip. Nonetheless, it got us where we wanted to go and it didn't need to be treated gently. On occasion we have used it to go over (or through) beaver dams, and sometimes as an icebreaker.
In addition to being a flatwater tripping boat, it also served as a downriver boat for trips on the Petawawa, Mattawa, Dumoine, Noire and Madawaska Rivers. Some of these were day trips, and some multiday trips. We used to paddle the rapids of the lower Petawawa River after work on a regular basis (see White Water Play), but subsequently moved on to solo boats: Diana, a kayak, and Bob, a covered C1.
While the Grumman didn't do anything really well, it performed adequately in everything we asked of a canoe. Over the next decade or so, we explored much of Algonquin Park and surrounding territory in this canoe.
Our Grumman's first major adventure occurred about three months after we bought it, when we did a whitewater trip down the Dumoine River (no photographs, unfortunately). We were shuttled into Lake Laforge by Bradley Air Services. On the second day of the trip we punctured the hull going through a rock-stuffed wave. The stern dropped onto the rock, striking just forward of the rear flotation compartment. The rigid bulkhead sliced through the hull, resulting in a five-inch gash. We weren't immediately aware of the damage, and were somewhat confused by the amount of "splash water" in the canoe at the bottom of the rapids. After pausing to patch the hole with duct tape, we completed the trip without further incident. In fact, we didn't permanently repair the damage until the following spring.
Grumman canoes, at that time at least, came with a lifetime warranty against hull puncture "while occupied, upright, on the water". Grumman honoured the warranty by providing a repair kit — aluminum patches, rivets, rubber gasket, epoxy, and new bulkhead — and the offer of $60 if we didn't wish to undertake the repair ourselves. The repair consisted of an aluminum patch backed by a rubber gasket riveted to the inside if the hull, and epoxy filling the crack on the outside. This provided a structurally sound and waterproof seal for several years. In later years, we found it necessary to augment the epoxy with a fresh duct tape patch each spring.
In 1987, on what we refer to as "the walking tour" — Achray to Lavieille and return via Barron Lake, Loonskin, White Partridge, Dickson Lakes etc. — we punctured the hull again, this time, just aft of the forward bulkhead. This breach was due to the accumulation of many small insults rather than any identifiable incident. We were surprised to discover the damage at the end of a portage, but immediately understood what it was. We never did get around to properly repairing this crack, and just went with a regular application of fresh duct tape as required.
Our canoe tripping fell off sharply in the early '90's for a variety of reasons and has never really recovered. Bob acquired a solo canoe, a Swift Osprey, in 2000 and has perhaps logged as many miles (though not tripping miles) in the Osprey as in the Grumman. The Grumman was officially replaced as our tandem tripping canoe with the purchase of a Swift Kipawa in 2006. The Grumman has spent its retirement mostly resting in our back yard, getting taken out once in a while, and receiving the odd visitor.
The Grumman succumbed to injuries this past winter when several large white pine boughs fell on it.
In Happier Times
2010 June 03
The original version of this page ended with the statement:
If you would like to repair this canoe and provide it with a with a new home, get in touch. It is available in exchange solely for a promise to provide us with a photograph of you paddling it. We will use that photograph in an update to this page.
Chris from North Bay has taken us up on this offer. We look forward to a photo of Nesswabic being paddled again.
When we purchased our canoe, the 15 ft Grumman was available in three variations, differing in hull thickness, number of ribs, and keel type. The standard regular weight Grumman had the thicker hull material, three ribs, and a fin keel, and weighed in at about 65 lbs. The lightweight Grumman had the thinner hull material, five ribs, a fin keel, and weighed in at 55 lbs. The whitewater Grumman had the thicker hull material, five ribs and a shoe keel, and weighed in at about 75 lbs.
The preponderance of white water photos is because most of our flat water tripping was undertaken alone with no one available to take photos of us. We put on many more flat water miles than white water miles.