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Erika's Kipawa


The blue and white beautiful Swift Kipawa (aka. Kip)  is the 3rd canoe Normand and the family has owned. It was ordered 20 years ago with cherry and ash outfitting. It has served the family well over the years on many trips in Ontario and Quebec. Erika and her big brother Quinn have grown up enjoying the Kipawa. Erika's fondest memories of the canoe were made on many a solo morning or sunset paddle in it. Also, many a fishing day with Dad had in the Kip as well. Her big brother has moved out west and enjoys the mountains so Erika is poised to inherit the blue and white beauty, with visitation paddling for her brother when he comes for a vacation :).


Exploring routes through Ontario and Quebec


Fishing with dad

Building Memories

Janique reflected on a family trip with Kip where Erika played with Barbies in the bow of the canoe while Janique and Normand paddled contently along. Personally, some of my fondest family adventures involved canoe transportation. From day trips to river runs in the Kootenay's of B.C., the canoe was a great device to take our kids exploring. 


The Kip has some gunwale trouble in the stern, I started by removing the stern handle and quickly realized that 30" section of gunwale that needed replacing would include both the inner and outerwale. 


For the gunwale section that needs replacing, I have two schools of thought; 1. replace inner and outer wales as separate pieces (in the same fashion as the original) or, 2. replace the whole section with one piece of oak. 

For the second option to work, I will need to cut a 3/4" groove down the length of the replacement piece of wood. 

I opted for option 1 for 3 reasons:

1. it is easier to bend the inwale and outwale into place easier.

2. I don't have the tools to make the perfect cut down the length of the wood.

3. it will match the rest of the canoe. 

The original gunwales were Ash and Cherry wood. I will be replacing the parts with golden oak.. Some might consider this to be a travesty but I like to think of it as bearing witness to a good life of adventure and repair. 

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Building the new section of gunwale into the old one, I am aware of the lines. Trying to mimic the gradual bend of the gunwale is a difficult task. Fortunately, this is not a long section so I am able to shape the oak using clamps and sanding where needed.  


I Can Handle This

It seems the original handle may have been at the end of its life. I tried to glue the cracks but it just would not hold. My first thought is to run down to MEC or Paddle Shack and buy a new one. 

Then I had a moment of clarity. I have wood, how hard can it be to make my own handle?

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The last few details are a bit tedious. I am trying to shape end pieces that will fit into the Bow and stern tips. A lot of sanding and figuring angles are required. After several prototypes, I think I am close.

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The Final Product

The final piece to the puzzle is repairing the cracks in the hull found inside the bow and stern decks. It's a bit of fiberglass work that will seal and strengthen the canoe. I've sealed the underside of the gunwale repair with clear silicone that will prevent water from getting in underneath and rotting the wood. With this completed, Kip is ready to go. I am excited for Kip and for Erika as they continue their outdoor adventures together and build on the family memories. I am thankful to be a small part of that journey.

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