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  • Clarke Wallace

FIX IT, DON'T LEAVE IT

I’m not the only one knowing when something needs to be repaired. I either shrug it off or ignore it altogether.


Finally, happily, one takes the proverbial bull by the horns and does something about it.


I’ve been staring at an old green canvas-covered cedar canoe stretched across two sawhorses and easily seen from above the deck for the past eight months. It’s half-covered by an old tattered tarp. You can almost hear it crying out for help.


I did something about it last September when my wife Rosanne poked me in the ribs, swearing it would be the last poke if we didn’t have the canoe repaired, she said, before it passed away from sheer neglect.


Friends told us if our canoe needed bringing back to life, Dan VanGelder of Muskoka Canoe Works was the only one they’d trust. But don’t expect idle talk from him.


We drove the several hours north to the Muskoka Lakes district and found Dan’s shop in the middle of nowhere. He looked over our canoe, wincing several times. That it was not in good shape was obvious.

He told us it needed new canvas with two coats of primer and three coats of yacht enamel on the outside. Strip and add 4 coats of gloss varnish on the inside. Repairs to the cedar planking. He gave us the approximate cost.


When we nodded, he told us to call him in late spring. (2022). I gave our canoe a pat, Roe gave it a hug and away we went.


Author’s comment: We picked up our canoe last weekend (see photo) and we were stunned. It looked better than brand new. Not only that, its personality had been restored ten-fold.


We have the whole summer to look forward to, smiling and paddling around in the Muskoka Lakes in our beautiful seasoned green cedar canoe. And proud as hell to do it.


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