Harmony Custom Woodcraft
118 Harmony Br Road
Have you ever dreamt of building your own canoe and thought maybe one day? Dreams for tomorrow often need only a spark of enthusiasm to become realized today. With so many different canoes and materials on the market, it can be difficult to know which to choose. One of the oldest, most traditional and preferred style of canoe remains the cedar canvas. This time honored method of boat building is carried out by those few who passionately continue this fine craft.
As a craftsman I have been working with wood for as long as I can remember. Some of my fondest childhood memories are following my grandfather around with a homemade tool box watching and learning from a true craftsman, or sitting quietly in the barn with a bucket of old rust nails straightening them out only to hammer them back into the barn floor. I still today make use of a tool box that my great, grandfather built many years ago.
My journey in boat building actually began with cedar strip kayaks, but shortly after moving to Labrador I met a master canoe builder who introduced me to the art of cedar canvas canoes. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn this craft from Mr. Joe Goudie, whose family used the cedar canvas method to build working boats for trapping. My first canoe built was designed by Joe’s brother Horace, who was a heights of land trapper; who were know for traveling long distances to reach their trap lines. These trappers would build a canoe in the summer months and travel 300km up river during the fall with large amounts of gear and supplies to their trap line. The boat would be left behind as they trapped over the next few months then returned home via snowshoe during the winter. Occasionally Horace would make a return trip to retrieve canoes left from the previous season of trapping. During our time spent in Labrador we heard many stories, felt a deep connection to this unique Canadian history, and discovered much about the Big Land and the wonderful people who live there. With the combination of Joe’s great patience and wisdom I feel grateful to have been a part of several canoe builds as he shared his passion and knowledge.
Now settled in rural NS, our woodworking and canoe shop is located in Harmony where you can come and witness the creation of a living vessel. In traditional East Coast hospitality, everyone is welcome in the Maritimes. Canoes can be custom ordered to meet your needs or you may consider coming to the shop to learn the step-by-step process of building your own cedar canvas canoe. With the use of traditional hand tools the process teaches how to work with the wood and the spirit of the canoe, while developing patience and new skills that you may carry into other areas of your life. Located only minutes from town, once you turn down the quiet dirt road you will find us tucked in the woods, where you can relax in the surrounding nature, enjoy morning or evening hikes and find enough space to set up camp.
Consider planning a summer holiday or a few weekends over the winter to explore the art of canoe building. I guarantee that you will be amazed and mesmerized seeing your canoe take shape before your eyes. Each canoe built is valued for its uniqueness and the hands that have created it. Paddling a cedar canvas will allow you to fully connect with nature while appreciating the artistry and craftsmanship of a boat specially created for you, or by you.
A building project done with parent and child, spouse, or friend will make a memory to last for generations to come. Imagine your grandchild paddling a canoe their father and grandfather built together, or going on that summer trip with your handcrafted canoe strapped to the roof of your car, or visiting your family’s cottage and paddling your creation across the lake through early morning mist. What a unique and beautiful gift a canoe can be for a special occasion, even a wedding present. We work to customize the building process to meet your needs and life’s busy demands.
Whether you would like a canoe built, want to learn how to build your own, need a restoration, or canoe repairs, you can contact us with your request. Each canoe is handcrafted to perfection, made with the utmost care and respect. These boats are not only a pleasure to paddle, but also a fine piece of art.
In my experience the more time spent paddling your canoe the more alive it becomes with the water. Ask anyone who has ever paddled, there is nothing like the feel of a cedar canvas. It has a life of its own and yet is intimately connected to the medium it moves through. We may believe that we have created this vessel, but the process of building and paddling actually creates us through each unique experience, every lesson and the countless memories shared with others in the splendor of our natural environment. Come and visit us here in beautiful Harmony, Nova Scotia.
Harmony Custom Woodcraft/ owner: Jason MacKinnon
You can visit us at: www.harmonywoodcraft.blogspot.com
phone: (902) 824-2305