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5 Questions with Tori Baird

April 13th, 2021 by

Tori Baird paddling her favourite Nova Craft Canoe model: a Prospector 15 in Blue Steel with ash trim. Photo by Cobi Sharpe, Spark Adventure Photography.

Get to know the newest member of the Nova Craft Canoe ambassador team!


ori Baird is the founder of Paddle Like a Girl – a two-day paddling and backcountry skill building workshop for women that Tori runs on her property on the Magnetawan River. Tori’s an accomplished canoeist who has paddled some of Canada’s wildest rivers alongside her husband and fellow Nova Craft ambassador Jim Baird.

Nova Craft: Our canoes have taken you to some pretty special places. What has been your favourite trip thus far and why?

Tori: My favourite trip thus far would have to be the East Natashquan river trip believe it or not.  It was my first remote multi-week canoe trip and it challenged me mentally and physically in ways I had never anticipated.  It included my most difficult portage to date which was 6km through a trail-less old burn and it took us 2 and a half days to complete.  It’s because of that portage that I am as resilient as I am today.  I saw the northern lights there for the first time, I had my first bear encounter, I saw a couple of the most spectacular waterfalls I’ve ever seen and overall it’s a trip that will always remain prominent in my memory.

Tori taking a rest mid portage on the Natashquan trip. Photo by Jim Baird.

Between you and your husband you’ve got about half a dozen canoes. What’s your favourite boat in your fleet and why?

My favourite boat in our fleet is our 15’ Prospector in Blue Steel.  Not only is it a beautiful boat with its ash gunwales but it’s a great option for solo or tandem use, is light enough for me to carry on long portages and fits a good amount of gear for a week long solo trip.

Flatwater or whitewater?

Tough question.  Whitewater if I’m paddling bow with my husband Jim but I’m much more at ease on flatwater if I’m paddling solo.

What’s the mission of Paddle like a Girl and what inspired you to launch it? What’s been the best or most rewarding aspect so far?

My mission behind Paddle Like a Girl is to get more women out paddling and enjoying the outdoors on their own terms.  My ‘solo but not alone’ trip with Cobi was the initial inspiration behind starting Paddle Like a Girl because I had felt so empowered after paddling 5 days solo across Algonquin and I wanted other women to experience that feeling as well.  The most rewarding aspect so far would have to be watching women solo carry a heavy canoe that they never thought they could carry.  It’s incredible to see the look of accomplishment on their face as they portage the canoe to the put-in.  I also love seeing what adventures they are getting up to after leaving my workshop.

Teaching at a Paddle Like a Girl workshop. Photo by Cobi Sharpe, Spark Adventure Photography

What advice would you give someone planning their first solo backcountry trip?

Start off small with something you know you can handle and gradually work your way up.  You will learn so much each time you go out, but you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew in the beginning and then have a bad experience that leaves you not wanting to try again.

What’s on your agenda for the 2021 season?

This summer I have 4 workshops lined up so far and am hoping to add more to the schedule.  I am also teaming up with Kawartha Land Trust and Wild Rock to run a women’s backcountry basics workshop in June.  I’m currently putting together a Paddle Like a Girl backcountry canoe trip in Temagami for previous Paddle Like a Girl participants which will hopefully take place at the end of September.  Otherwise we have a couple more things scheduled in August that we will announce a little later on in the season!


Want to learn more? Check out Tori’s recent interview with Kevin Callan here and follow her @torigoesoutside or @paddlelikeagirl_

Sharing is Caring: How a Canoe Share is Fostering Community (mid-pandemic) in Hamilton, ON

March 11th, 2021 by

Canoe share in action - rolling Matt's Prospector 17 down the bike lanes of downtown Hamilton to the bay

Matt Thompson on connecting people with place through the power of paddling.


hen COVID-19 hit Ontario in March of 2020, Matt Thompson quickly realized the kind of effects the pandemic lockdown and distancing restrictions could have on his tightknit community in downtown Hamilton, ON. As the weather began warming up and he looked forward to paddling season that spring he had an idea about how to restore the sense of connection that the pandemic threatened: a community canoe share based out of his own backyard.

Matt’s canoe share project is born from mutual aid – a belief that members of a community with additional resources have a responsibility to let other members who don’t have them share or borrow those resources. “I love my canoe, my canoe is fantastic, but I’m not using it all of the time.” Last April Matt put the word out on Instagram that he’d make his canoe available to anyone who wanted to borrow it. Word spread through the magic of social media and word of mouth from friends to friends of friends and occasionally complete strangers who connect with Matt over Instagram direct message. During the 2020 paddling season he estimates the canoe was borrowed approximately 30 times – sometimes from folks coming by solo to borrow the canoe for early morning fishing sessions, sometimes by groups of friends or young families with pets.

Matt’s Prospector 17 is loaned with a cart attached, so borrowers can pick it up on foot and simply roll the canoe 20 minutes down the bike paths of downtown Hamilton before they arrive at a water access point. How’s that for an easy portage?

Owing to pandemic travel restrictions local outdoor recreation and urban paddling has seen a major boost. People are realizing that they don’t need to travel far or go anywhere remote to enjoy the pleasures of being outside and on the water. “I’m really interested in and passionate about building people’s relationships with the landscapes that are directly around them, because not everyone can go to Algonquin all the time.”

Indeed the ability to escape the city and head into the backcountry is a privilege. Matt realizes this and intentionally organizes the canoe share to eliminate some of the obstacles that new paddlers, especially in dense urban environments, might face such as storage space or access to a vehicle: “It’s such a powerful thing to be with friends and family out on the water and I want to remove as many barriers to that as possible, in the same way that libraries remove barriers to books.”

The goal of the canoe share project is pretty simple – make it possible for more people to paddle, including groups that aren’t typically seen on the water. It’s working: “There’s been so much demand already that I’ve actually just ordered a second canoe from Nova Craft. Because most people only want to use the canoe on weekends I hated being in a position where I was turning people away, and as vaccinations roll out and things start to open up again I can only see demand increasing… I’ve even had people come to me from Mississauga. They took the GO bus from Mississauga to borrow my canoe. So that’s a testament to how resonant this program is with people.”

Ultimately, Matt says, community is about “want(ing) to feel resonance with other people in the place where we live. During Covid especially it’s amazing to have two or three friends come by and borrow the canoe and take it out and feel like we can contribute to that social cohesion and connection that so many of us have been missing. I see in people a connection forming between where they live and who they’re paddling with and I see that as deeply meaningful, especially during a pandemic.”

With the community canoe share project Matt feels he has demonstrated a model that he hopes other individuals, organizations or municipal governments will take up and invest in. “It doesn’t take a lot of money to make this happen and the positive outcomes we’ve seen are huge.” To an individual looking to start their own canoe share Matt advises starting with a small and trusted circle of friends. “Once you get feedback from those people about how (paddling) makes them feel I guarantee you’ll feel motivated to grow its reach.”

Reflecting on 2020

January 4th, 2021 by

Photo by Northern Scavenger

Exploring the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the outdoors industry and as they relate to our business and community.


t’s been quite a year. We started things off riding high in anticipation of our 50th anniversary. We dug deep into the company’s history and brought Ken Fisher, the founder of Nova Craft Canoe, in to meet our team. We pulled materials from our archives for our anniversary catalog and marketing campaigns. We launched a line of limited edition anniversary products: enamel camp mugs, embroidered patches and handcrafted wooden paddles commissioned by respected small-batch producer Hunter & Harris, all emblazoned with our redesigned 50th anniversary logo.
Then, in early March, everything changed with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in North America. Covid-19 cancelled industry trade shows and interrupted our plans for an event series, in addition to interrupting canoe production in our busiest months, and the lives of our staff and customers. When we were mandated to shut down in March of this year by the provincial government, things looked pretty bleak. We thought our season, and our anniversary celebrations, were effectively over.

While we and every other Ontarian hunkered down in lockdown at home, the weather inched towards spring. Pretty soon everyone was craving escape into the outdoors. We received a record number of inquiries and pretty soon, when retail re-opened: a canoe boom.
In 2020 we’ve connected more folks with canoes this year than ever before. Through the Anniversary Photo Contest we ran online we got a chance to connect virtually with thousands of our customers and hear about their best memories and all of the wonderful places they’ve been in our canoes.

We’ve also worked hard to give back. In sponsoring the Canoe4Covid team and their epic Ontario canoe trip we are proud to have helped them raise over $80,000 for Canada Food Banks, with 50% of those funds being directed to Indigenous communities. In the fall, our staff participated in the Canoe Flip Challenge and donated a canoe to the Project Canoe fleet. We also continue to support the efforts of Friends of Killarney Park and Friends of Algonquin Park organizations by contributing a canoe donation for their annual raffle fundraisers. These organizations work hard to ensure the stewardship of the places we love to paddle.

In addition to the changes the outdoor industry is seeing due to Covid-19, there is a social awakening happening too. With George Floyd’s murder and the mainstream awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement that sprung up in its wake, the outdoors industry is reckoning with a culture that has not historically been diverse, inclusive or welcoming to those outside the traditional profile of the “outdoorsperson”. BIPOC outdoor enthusiasts deserve much better from us and we will be making an effort to step up, starting with adding Tori Baird to ambassador team roster. In 2021 we’ll be gifting Tori with a lightweight canoe for her Paddle Like a Girl clients to paddle and portage at the weekend workshops she runs which are designed to instill women with the know-how and confidence they need to thrive in the backcountry. We’re proud to support an organization that welcomes and empowers women to be outdoors. Keep your eyes and ears open for upcoming announcements about other initiatives we’re excited to launch in 2021.

Writing this today, it’s early January 2021 and we’re in the thick of another provincially mandated shutdown. This time, we are able to continue manufacturing with distancing and other measures in place to ensure the safety of our staff. While it’s difficult to anticipate what lies ahead in the coming months, it is likely that folks will continue to turn to outdoor recreation as a reprieve from the pandemic induced anxiety and cabin fever that are all too familiar to us now. That means we are anticipating another big year of consumer demand for outdoor hard goods like canoes. For small brands like ours, production capacity is limited by space, equipment and staffing. We are a small but mighty team working hard to increase our capacity incrementally, but we urge folks who are looking to buy canoes in 2021 to get their orders in as early as possible with their local retailers.

If you’re at the beginning of the research journey, our website is packed with info that can help you narrow down your search – check out the Buyer’s Guide here –  and you can call us anytime at 866 88 CANOE to get gear advice (from a real human person!). Our independent retail partners are also fantastic resources, and happy to help you find the perfect canoe. Give them a call or send them an email if your local paddle shop is currently closed to foot traffic. When you’re ready to place your order, be aware that wait times will be long again this year, due to capacity limitations and the fact that we are sure to encounter more supply chain breakdowns as the pandemic rages on. Ordering early is the best way to increase your shot at receiving a canoe this year. While we continue to do our best to deliver on time, there is so much beyond our control that can contribute to delays. Your patience and understanding goes a long way, and is very much appreciated by our team.

Finally, thank you. It is only with the support of our amazing community and the hard work and dedication of our team that we were able to pull 2020 off. We’ve all been paddling against a nasty headwind for the better part of 10 months, but we’re feeling hopeful about 2021. The storm just may be clearing.

Nova Craft Canoe takes on the Canoe Flip Challenge for Project Canoe

November 9th, 2020 by

Our team participating in the #canoeflipchallenge in November

How many times can you lift a canoe from the ground and onto your shoulders in 60 seconds?


his is the question that the #canoeflipchallenge campaign and its founder Chris Prouse are putting to the outdoors community.

The challenge benefits Project Canoe by raising awareness and funds for their programming. For every “flip” of the canoe, the flipper donates $1 directly to Project Canoe. Project Canoe is a Toronto based non-profit organization that gets youth facing various barriers into the backcountry for transformative experiences in the outdoors. Since the organization was founded in 1977, Project Canoe has served over 4000 youth. 

It has been amazing to see the canoe community come together to support this wonderful cause by taking the challenge on.

Last week, the staff at Nova Craft Canoe participated in the #canoeflipchallenge ourselves. We had a blast. Special thanks to our friend and ambassador Kevin Callan, The Happy Camper for nominating us to participate. Watch our staff take on the challenge below. 

Rather than a $10 donation, we’ll be donating a Prospector 16 canoe that Project Canoe can add to their fleet of tripping canoes. We’re always happy to see our boats go to good use – and it’s hard to think of a better use that this. For more on Project Canoe and to make a donation of your own visit

We’re nominating Adam Shoalts, Roch and the team at Composites Canada, and Kelly at the Complete Paddler to take on the #canoeflipchallenge next!

Want more? Check out these other fun challenge videos featuring our canoes:



50th Anniversary Photo Contest

October 1st, 2020 by

Congrats to the winners of our 50th Anniversary Photo Contest!

Many thanks to all who participated in our 50th Anniversary Photo Contest, by submitting entries and by casting votes in the later phase of the contest.


n a year when the in-person celebration events we had planned were cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions, to connect with our community virtually meant a lot. It was a joy to hear from so many of you about the memories you’ve made in our canoes, and to see all the wonderful places that your Nova Craft Canoe has taken you to.
Of the hundreds of submissions we received, our staff narrowed it down to a selection of 10 finalists whose images are shown below. Along with their submission photo the entrant was asked “What makes this photo meaningful to you or others”, their responses are listed along with each photo. In the last week of the contest we opened voting on the “Top 10”, and received over 23,000 votes! Thank you!
On September 30th, we announced the 3 winners of the contest based on which photos received the most votes: 1st prize winner Ian Walker of Newfoundland & Labrador, 2nd prize winner Cameron Hollands of Ontario, and 3rd prize winner Jennifer Pulvermacher of Wisconsin. Congratulations to the winners!



Ian Walker – 1st Prize Winner 

“This photo was taken in King’s Point, Newfloundland and Labrador and is meaningful to me because this iceberg is actually right outside my girlfriends parents home. I took my Nova Craft 15′ prospector out and was able to go out for a closer look. I was also able to get a few “bergy bits” as we like to call them to cool our drinks off for the rest of the summer. It was a great day and the berg actually split in two and rolled over later that day. I don’t think you can get much more Canadian than that!”



Cameron Hollands – 2nd Prize Winner 

“This photo was taken on the Lady Evelyn River in the Temagami region of Ontario. With its rugged hills, large cascades and open cliff faces, the Lady Evelyn River truly epitomizes rugged northern Ontario canoe travel. This photo is meaningful to me because to reach the remote headwaters of the river, my group and I spent days portaging, dragging, and roughing our way through the pinetorch conservation reserve, some of Temagami’s most seldom travelled and unforgiving regions. With close to 40 portages over 2.5 days, unmaintained/absent portage trails, late-June mosquitoes, 250m of elevation gain, and dusk campsite arrivals, the challenge took us to our limits. We considered turning back more than once. We could not be happier that we pushed on, as one of our rewards were the scenic cascades of the Lady Evelyn River (pictured). One of the most under appreciated aspects of canoe travel is how hard one has to work for the rewards. To me, this photo is collecting the rewards after days of pushing myself harder than I ever thought possible. My fiberglass 16ft Prospector (Leigh) was the perfect partner for this adventure. Tough enough to withstand the downriver travel and the portaging, light enough to take on some pretty serious lengthy uphill climbs, and with the capacity to hold much more gear than I ever dare portage. I look forward to many more adventures with her.”



Jennifer Pulvermacher – 3rd Prize Winner 

“This is the first time all three of our boys rode in the canoe. It was our youngest son, Dell’s, first paddle.”



Shawn Dearborn 

“I frequently look back on this picture from a trip my closest friends and I took in early May 2019. To me it captures the grit and determination tripping requires. With a boat fully loaded, and rushing water in the foreground; it’s all too easy to get caught in your head and get overwhelmed by the isolation and harshness of the elements. That’s where teh strength in fellowship is crucial. I couldn’t manage canoe tripping if it weren’t for the friend in my bow, or the laughs around teh fires. It’s the bonds formed through the trials that are strongest, and what makes trudging through mud and paddling through rain not only bearable, but joyously addictive.”



Mark Knight 

“This shot was in November on Vancouver Island. Everyone had stopped paddling, so we didn’t see another soul for three days. We had all sorts of weather: snow, sleet, hail and rain with the odd patch off sun, but we had an amazing time. The water level was super low this year as the summer was very dry, so we ended up having to portage where there would normally be streams and rivers to paddle. We had borrowed this Tuffstuff prospector and have wanted one ever since!”



Glen Bylsma 

“After unfortunately giving my Nova Craft Prospector a 5 year break because of life/schedules she took me to this beautiful spot in Georgian Bay near the French River. A spot I had camped on many years earlier and it did not disappoint us, again. Mother nature gave incredible weather, skies and solitude. I paddled with a buddy who hadn’t paddled in 27 years and now is my new canoe partner after this trip. In this particular photo I was in awe of natures constantly changing canvas each one so different and unique yet just as stunning as the last.”



Ben Van Bastelaere

“This photo was of my first ever whitewater trip. It was the best 3 weeks of my life along with the most physically challenging days of my life. Everyone on that trip pushed themselves to the limits but the payoff was immense. Going over this wave in this photo, I remember going to paddle but not realizing how high the now of the canoe was: I didn’t even touch the water. This was the biggest and best set I’ve run yet and this picture inspires me to get back out there and keep paddling.”



Stephan Gaumont-Guay 

“It was a nice foggy morning on a little lake in September. If I can, I often use a canoe as a subject in my compositions. The fluid lines and the bright color of the canoe bring contrast to the image. I found that the canoe also tells a story about adventure and exploration: What did they see on their journey? Where are they going next?”



Eric Robb 

“This is a photo of me and my Grandmother paddling the South Basin of Lake Winnipeg on a beautiful summer evening. My grandfather had passed away only a few months prior to this and the feelings of loss were still fresh. When they were younger, my grandparents were avid canoe campers and continued camping into their adulthood after having kids. As time went by, their old canoe got used less and less, until it fell apart in their back yard. This photo documents the first time my grandmother had been in a canoe in decades, and the first time it wasn’t her husband in the stern. It was a quiet paddle, we spent the time listening to the birds chirping and flying above us. We both knew the significance of what was happening, but we let ourselves experience it in our own ways. For me, it was a very powerful and emotional moment. Instead of focusing on the sadness of missing my grandfather, I chose to be happy about being on the water with my amazing grandmother. I’m sure she enjoyed herself as well. I’ll never forget the minutes spent in my Prospector with my grandmother on that beautiful evening. No matter how many trips it’s been on already or how many more it will go on, this will forever be my favourite moment.”



Emylene VanderVelden
“Our photos of our Nova Craft Prospector 17 are important because they tell the story of how my husband and I met, fell in love, and got engaged. On September 19, 2020, we will be married after hundreds of kilometres of rivers paddled in our canoe. Our canoe is an integral part of our love story. COVID-19 cancelled our April 2020 wedding. We decided to postpone our wedding and get married later using our Nova Craft canoe as an archway, near the banks of the first river we paddled together in our Nova Craft, the North Saskatchewan River.
The Story: Michael had been planning a trip to the Nahanni River National Park Reserve his entire adult life. However, Michael had never been on a Nahanni trip, and there was nowhere on earth; he wanted to go more. Michael spent years learning to paddle whitewater in canoes and kayaks. By his late 20’s he became a whitewater rescue tech on the fire department. Michael only had one problem; he did not have a partner he wanted to take to Nahanni. Then, on September 19, 2018, Michael met Emylene. There was something about Emylene from the minute he met her. It was like he had always known her like she was his other half. They constantly challenged each other to new adventures. Michael resolved to take Emylene down Nahanni River and, in preparation, purchased a brand new Nova Craft Prospector 17 canoe. Michael spent the spring and summer of 2019 on whitewater rivers with Emylene. Michael and Emylene were almost inseparable. In August of 2019, Emylene and Michael loaded up the Nova Craft Prospector 17. A solo trip on the Nahanni River was either going to end or cement their relationship. After weeks of no one but each other for company, Michael and Emylene were closer than ever. Michael decided he was going to marry Emylene. In a mountain valley, in October 2019, Michael proposed, and Emylene accepted.”


Exporting a Canadian Icon

August 13th, 2020 by

A still from the EDC video featuring Nova Craft Canoe

It’s an incredible feeling to see the canoes we build right here in London, Ontario enrich the lives of paddlers across the globe by enabling them to experience nature in ways only the canoe can.


hrough our passion for crafting the best Canadian canoes, what started in a backyard workshop has grown internationally. Since the 1990s Nova Craft Canoe has been bringing Canadian canoes to the world with the support of Export Development Canada (EDC).

Last year EDC chose to spotlight our company as an export success story. The resulting video project (below) shares the pride we take in delivering an icon of Canadian history and identity beyond our borders.

See the full EDC profile here.

5(ish) Questions with Tim Miller

March 26th, 2020 by

Tim working on a mold in the first London shop on Exeter Rd. circa 1988.



im Miller was president and co-owner of Nova Craft Canoe for 33 years, from 1986 to 2019. He retired last spring and has been spending more time on his bike and in his boat since. We caught up with Tim recently and asked him a few questions about his time leading the company.


Tell me the story of how you came to buy Nova Craft with Pat and Zoltan in 1986.

After our family moved back to London from Calgary in 1986, I went on a fall canoe trip with Pat and Zolt to the French River. We were camped at the Blue Chute and after the whiskey bottle had been passed around a few times Zoltan mentioned that a canoe company out in Glanworth was for sale. Since my job at the time was house husband and we were having a good time canoeing, it was agreed I would have time to investigate when we got back to London.

Upon investigation, it looked like a good opportunity as it was pretty much a back yard business with an excellent product with lots of potential. The three of us ponied up and moved Nova Craft to an industrial space in London, learned as much as we could from Ken Fisher and started building the business in December 1986. 

When you took on the company, it was a garage based operation building boats to order. By the time you retired Nova Craft was an international brand serving over 40 distributors worldwide. What do you think the key to Nova Craft’s growth/success has been?

The key to our longevity and success is really the key for just about any business: We produced the best product we could and we backed our products with the best personal service possible. Over the years many of our customers commented on how much they enjoyed working with us because we were always friendly and easy to deal with. Also they enjoyed the fact that someone actually answered the phone when they called. Simple really.

What are your favourite memories from your time as president of Nova Craft Canoe?

So many memories! Probably the best ones are working with my two sons when they were young and just learning about jobs and working. When my oldest son, Ben, was just starting out he asked me the “how much am I making” question on the way to work. I thought about it, put on my best negotiation face and said, “I was thinking three dollars an hour.” He got a big grin on his face and said, ” That’s great ’cause I was thinking $1.00.” As they say the first one to name a price loses but it was still an excellent arrangement. 

Once Ben was going to university my youngest son Dan was still working with us for a summer job. Both Ben and Dan had worked there way up to being trimmers, fitting the seats and gunwales, etc. on the finished product. The height of trimmer skill is being able to do wood trim on the canoes. Ben had never been trusted with this but one day as we were leaving work Dan declared, “I did a wood trim today!” Once we got home Dan called Ben just to rub it in and smack down his older brother. It was a proud moment. 

What’s one thing you are proud of accomplishing here?

I am most proud of representing Canada throughout the world. We have taken classic Canadian wood canoe designs, resurrected them using innovative modern materials and showed the world that Canadian canoes are the best. In the minds of most people of the world nothing represents Canada like the canoe and over the last 50 years Nova Craft has been a big part of that message. 

Favourite Nova Craft model and why. 

My favourite model is the Prospector 17. It has lots of volume for multi day trips and is whitewater capable even when loaded. A sweet blend of speed on the lakes and manoeverability in rivers with good volume in the ends for a dry ride in rougher conditions.

Bonus question! Now that you have more time to paddle, where do you want to go?

Now that I have more time to paddle, I really just want to go on my next canoe trip down the Thames near our home. Any time in a canoe is a good time. There’s just something about it. Even better when we get our grandchildren to share it with us.


Some of Tim’s responses appeared on page 3 of the 2020 product guide. Request a product guide by emailing

Celebrating 50 Years in Photos

January 31st, 2020 by

In 2020 we're proudly celebrating 50 years on the water.

In 2020 Nova Craft is celebrating 50 years on the water.


ounded in 1970 by Ken Fisher, Nova Craft began in the Fisher family garage in Glanworth, Ontario. Since then we’ve grown into an international brand while staying true to our roots: building classic Canadian designs with high quality workmanship and service to provide our customers with the best paddling experience.

To mark the anniversary and celebrate our history, we’ll be posting some favourite “throwback” photos from the archives on our Instagram account each Thursday all year long. Follow us on Instagram here or flip through the album below to see photos from the past 50 years on the water. New Photos will be added each week throughout 2020.


Ken Fisher, Founder of Nova Craft Canoe
An enviable rig circa 1980
Pat & Zolt by the Fire
"Birchbark" Canoe
Finish Line
Late 80s Pat
Testing TuffStuff
Where it all started...
Installing ash trim at the first London shop on Exeter Rd circa 1990..
Blue Steel: EST 2002
Tim and Zolt
Tim in the Exeter Rd shop, early 90s
Marketing "Superlite" in the 1990s
Ken Fisher, Founder of Nova Craft Canoe An enviable rig circa 1980 Pat & Zolt by the Fire Finish Line Late 80s Pat Testing TuffStuff Where it all started... Installing ash trim at the first London shop on Exeter Rd circa 1990.. Blue Steel: EST 2002 Tim and Zolt Tim in the Exeter Rd shop, early 90s Marketing


Nova Craft Canoe Sponsors the Iconic Bill Mason Prospector

December 16th, 2019 by

A still from Bill Mason's film Waterwalker, featuring the Prospector on Lake Superior

We are very excited to announce that we’ve partnered with the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, ON to sponsor Bill Mason’s Prospector for the year 2020.


he Prospector design, originated by the Chestnut Canoe Company, is the most celebrated canoe design on the market. Iterations of the Chestnut classic are made by nearly every current day canoe manufacturer, including us. This is no doubt owing to Bill Mason. Mason used the Prospector in his best known works, popularizing not only the model  but backcountry tripping generally, and bringing about a renaissance in canoe and camping culture in Canada.
Our donation to the Canadian Canoe Museum through the “Adopt an Artifact” program helps support the museum in its mission to offer interactive and educational displays and programming which share the art, culture, heritage and spirit of paddled watercraft.

Bill Mason’s Chestnut Canoe Co. Prospector on display at the Canadian Canoe Museum


More on the Prospector, courtesy of the Canadian Canoe Museum:

Bill Mason’s 16 foot red Prospector canoe is possibly the most famous canoe in Canada. It arrived at the Mason home on Meech Lake, north of Ottawa, from the Chestnut Canoe Company in Fredericton, New Brunswick, in spring, 1973. From that moment, the canoe was used in all of Bill Mason’s projects, his instructional films on canoeing, his books, The Path of the Paddle, The Song of the Paddle, and his last epic film, Waterwalker. It was frequently used on Bill’s month-long solo trips on the north shore of Lake Superior, on family trips in Algonquin Park, on trips down the Pukaskwa River, north of Superior, where the canoe ribs were damaged. Bill danced at his son’s wedding with the canoe on his shoulders, and his wife, Joyce, scattered Bill’s ashes from it in 1989. It was donated to the Canadian Canoe Museum after their daughter, Becky, performed a canoe ballet on the Trent-Severn Waterway in Peterborough in 1999.
Although he was a fan of the rest of his personal fleet, author and filmmaker Bill Mason suggested the Prospector model as the best all-around option to the question “if you could have only one canoe”.
Given the telegraph code “Fort” for early “online” purchases, the Chestnut Canoe Company introduced this model in 1923 to offer a larger carrying capacity hull compared with their other offerings of similar length. Although the Prospector series would later be finished with a bright varnish interior for consumer, these were first introduced painted drab inside and out. For the rest of the company’s history, however, the rugged (if uncomfortable) slat seats (rather than woven caning) would remain a standard offering with this series belying its workboat origins. Today, this design is copied or imitated by more canoe makers than any other historic design.

Nova Craft Canoe Changes Ownership

March 14th, 2019 by

Nova Craft Canoe manufacturing facility and HQ at 471 Nightingale Ave in London, Ontario, Canada

After nearly 50 years in the canoe making business and over 30 years under the direction of Tim Miller, Nova Craft Canoe hands the paddle to a new owner. The new owner and president of Nova Craft Canoe, Chris Rath, purchased the company effective January 31st, 2019.


ith the solid foundation built by Tim and the team, I look forward to taking Nova Craft Canoe to its next level of growth and service to our customers,” said Mr. Rath. “My primary goal is for Nova Craft to continue to provide outstanding products and customer service in tandem with providing a great working environment for our employees. I am confident that Nova Craft will continue to deliver the outstanding service that has become a hallmark of our company culture over the last 49 years.”

Nova Craft began in 1970 in Glanworth, Ontario in the garage of Ken Fisher. He ran the small-scale operation out of his back yard near London, Ontario producing a limited selection of fibreglass canoes. Over the years, the reputation for Fisher’s quality designs and workmanship spread, and when Tim Miller and Pat Malloy took over the business in the late 1980s, new materials and models were added and the customer base grew.

Some thirty years later, with a comprehensive catalogue and an ever increasing brand awareness, demand for our canoes has spread over a wide geographic area. We have an expanding dealer network throughout Canada, the United States and Europe. Under Tim Miller’s leadership, Nova Craft Canoe has become an internationally respected brand and an industry leader in adopting advanced composite materials and technology.

While some things have changed over the last 49 years, our core focus remains simple: build quality canoes that give paddlers special experiences in the great outdoors. It’s all about making a connection to nature and wild places, be it solo or with friends and family. We look forward to continuing to honour this commitment with Chris at the helm.

“After working with Chris for the last three to four months, I am confident that we are handing Nova Craft over to a very competent and experienced manager who will continue to build the Nova Craft brand well into the future,” said Mr. Miller. “I look forward to working with Chris to ensure a smooth and seamless transition. Also, I would like to thank all our customers and suppliers who have given us amazing support over the last 32 years as well as our dedicated employees who put their hearts and souls into building the best Canadian canoes for the world.”

See you on the water!

What’s New for 2019

February 1st, 2019 by

Introducing Aluminum Lite gunwales on Aramid Lite and Blue Steel canoes

For canoe manufacturers, off season means R & D season. It’s when we hunker down and focus on ways we can improve our products and our customers experiences with them. Here are a couple new options we’re offering in 2019, to make those experiences great.

New! Aluminum Lite gunwales on Aramid Lite and Blue Steel canoes

We’ve been working hard this off season on improving the weights of our lightest canoe materials – Aramid Lite and Blue Steel – to make them even lighter for our customers out on the portage trail.

In 2019 we are introducing a gunwale system which will become the new standard on Aramid Lite and Blue Steel hulls. The new gunwales are made from the same durable and low maintenance anodized aluminum as our classic aluminum gunwales, but are slimmer in profile, shaving between 2 and 4lbs off each canoe. Because of the narrower profile on our new gunwales, the seats, yokes, thwarts and handles in Aramid Lite and Blue Steel canoes will be hung from the gunwales on metal brackets rather than wooden spacers (see photo above). If you prefer the traditional look and feel of wooden gunwales, you can always upgrade to our beautiful straight-grained white ash gunwales.

New! Colour Option

By popular demand, we’re re-introducing blue into our menu of colour options in 2019. This isn’t the first time Nova Craft Canoes have been available in blue – you may recall the powdery baby blue that was popular in the 1980’s or the Royalex royal blue – but our new blue is a little different, and closer to cobalt in hue. Check it out and let us know what you think!

6 North of 60

December 13th, 2018 by

Lindsay Wiebold, Meredith Freshley, Maddie Stoehr, Marissa Sieck, Emily Spangler & Sammi Armacost

In the summer of 2017, 6 alumna of a canoe tripping focused summer camp for girls in Minnesota set out on a major Arctic expedition. Their names are Lindsay Wiebold, Meredith Freshley, Maddie Stoehr, Marissa Sieck, Emily Spangler and Sammi Armacost. They called the trip (and themselves, really)  6 North of 60 – 6 women, travelling on 6 Arctic rivers, above the 60th parallel north.


he goal of their project was significant: to “be the first to paddle a previously unconnected canoe route 1,200 kilometers from the Mackenzie Mountains in Canada’s Northwest Territories to Nunavut’s Coronation Gulf via the Keele River, Great Bear Lake and Coppermine River” – and to do it in 60 days (they completed the trip in 62). More broadly, the goal was to inspire a new generation of young women to plan similarly ambitious trips, to lead by capable example and in doing so change their peers’ perceptions of what they can accomplish. Over winter and spring of this year I had the opportunity to interview some of the 6 North of 60 group members over the phone to ask about their experiences. Read on for highlights from our conversations.

You all met up at summer camp in Minnesota; How did your experiences at camp prepare you for or inspire the 6 North of 60 project? 

Meredith Freshley – We all met on staff at Camp Ogichi-daa-kwe in northern Minnesota, though many of us knew eachother before then as campers. [Our camp’s] mission is all about empowering young women to be outdoors and to lead, so it really gave us the hard and soft skills to be able to do a trip like this.

Sammi Armacost – I grew up in a big city and never really had any kind of exposure to canoeing or camping. One summer my dad sent me to camp at Ogichi and it really changed my life and opened my eyes to a whole other world of experiences you could have. I first came in the camp’s fifth year when I was 15 and spent two years as a camper, then 5 years on staff.

Meredith – The inspiration for the trip really is that Ogichi is pretty new, but the boys camp (Kooch-i-ching) has been around for 90 years and their staff have done a number of arctic canoe trips independently. We were inspired to push Ogichi’s program further in that direction. We wanted younger female campers to know that this is something that they can do too, and to lead by example.

Sammi – Our trip in the arctic kind of symbolizes the growth of the girls camp. Some of us had been campers there since the beginning or close to the beginning so we watched our male counterparts and learned their history and legacy through our dads and uncles and brothers and cousins. Eventually we were like, “Okay it’s been 13 years since the girls camp has been around and it’s time for us to do this. Let’s do an arctic trip.”

Did you feel pressure being the first group? Or like you had something to prove?

Sammi – Yeah. I mean, there were naysayers from the beginning and people who second guessed our qualifications… But that doubt really only just fueled us. We wanted to defy their expectations and symbolize a new era where girls don’t have to overcome that kind of doubt, they can just go do it. We just wanted to get the ball rolling for future generations.

The trip that you guys planned involved traversing six northern and fairly remote bodies of water. Which stretch was the most physically or mentally challenging for you and why?

Lindsay Wiebold – The most challenging aspect of the trip was portaging upstream on the Sloane River. There were no trails so there was a ton of bushwhacking; it was really slow going.

Meredith – Definitely the portaging sections between the Sloane and the Hook River. One particular day comes to mind, it was actually Sammi’s birthday, that we knew was going to be horrible but we made an effort to make it fun. The portage that day was about 7 miles to get to the Hook river and we woke up to music, danced around camp and made pancakes and just tried to make the day as joyful as possible since we knew it was going to be the hardest day of the trip and it just happened to fall on her birthday. We made her a crown out of flagging tape and gave her cards that morning and just got amped up for the gruelling day ahead.

What stands out to you specifically about tripping in the arctic that sets it apart from other, previous trips that you’d done before? 

Lindsay – The fact that there are more hours in the day and just the geography in general was quite different… We didn’t see a ton [of wildlife], probably because we were so loud and were having so much fun. But we did see muskoxen on the Coppermine and a lone wolf on the banks of the Great Bear River. We saw endless bald eagles which became sort of a symbol of protection and guidance for us. Only saw one bear and it was a black bear, but we saw a lot of traces of grizzlies.

Emily Spangler – The Arctic is more epic, wild, and remote than anywhere I’ve ever been. Our route led us through some unbelievable landscapes; we went from jagged mountains, to quiet river valleys, to the most enormous lake I’ve ever paddled, to traversing scraggly tundra, to whisking down some crazy white-water through steep colourful canyons, and finally to the wide open expanse of the Arctic Ocean.

How did you decide on a division of labour? Were their unique roles you took on or particular skills you feel you contributed to the group?

Meredith – We went in with the plan to rotate roles throughout the trip, but things just sort of fell into place naturally after the first few days. One thing that we did plan and stick to was that we brought a group journal to rotate every day between us. Whoever was in charge of writing in the journal that day also had the day off from tasks around camp. Once we came into camp after paddling everyone would help setting up but while most of us were preparing dinner and cleaning  that person would have time on their own to journal about the day and not feel guilty about going off on their own. Otherwise the roles really just fell into place naturally. We were pretty conscious of making sure that it wasn’t always one person taking on more than the rest of us. We all did our fair share.


When it came to fishing, certain people just enjoyed it more or were better at it. Emily Spangler was definitely the most skilled that regard. And she’s a great teacher, she taught me about filleting a fish along with Lindsay. In terms of paddling: every 5 days we switched boat partners and every other day we switched bow/stern positions.  Same with portaging – we would switch between who was carrying boats and who was carrying gear fairly often.

Emily – I was pretty pre-occupied in the beginning with having a distinct purpose and role in the team. I have an innate need to be needed so at first I wanted to be sure that I was providing some invaluable service to the group. Which was interesting because as a leader on camp trips and other outdoor trips I’ve been leading in the UK, I’m so used to feeling 100% needed and I know what my role is. But on this trip, with 5 other leaders that are used to the same thing, it was a bit of an adjustment for me. They were equally or more capable at pretty much everything. We all knew how to navigate, load a canoe, pitch a tent, start a fire… In one sense it was nice because you didn’t have to be “on” all the time like when you are leading trips. But for me in particular, it was difficult because I couldn’t find my place, and I couldn’t find a critical need that I filled. But this was one of the best most important lessons that I learned while we were out there. It took me a while but I got it: particularly on that trip, and with those women, I realized, that I didn’t “need” them to need me, it was enough just that they “wanted” me there with them. Major turning point for me, and I was able to fully appreciate the benefits of going on a trip with other capable leaders, who all shared similar skills. We could lean on each other in a way I haven’t experienced before.

Best camp cook?

Sammi – Marissa is probably the best chef. She always added something extra to make even the most basic camp meal special. Honestly our food was really good throughout the trip.

Is there a particular moment that stands out to you as a trip highlight?

Sammi – I think kind of selfishly that my birthday was the highlight of the trip. It just really captured what was special about the trip. On my birthday we had this ridiculous portage through the mountain navigating with a compass but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky it was beautiful and although it was physically the hardest thing I’ve had to do the group really kept each other uplifted throughout the day.

Meredith – One highlight would be the Great Bear River which was the first big challenge of the trip. We had just re-supplied in Tulita and everyone there was super nice but they also were pretty adamant that we not continue onto the Great Bear River and that we couldn’t do it. It was already daunting and everyone was feeling like this big weight and being nervous. By then though we were passed the point of no return. We had no other option. But we did it and it was scary and we pushed through and we just used that as major motivation to push through any other doubts that we had or anyone else had about us. That’s when everyone started feeling like we really could do it and that we were meant to be out there. My second favourite moment was when we switched to night paddling on the Great Bear Lake, just because of the sheer beauty. We altered our entire schedule and started waking up around 7pm and paddling from 10pm til 5am. It just felt like a constant sunset and we were paddling through an oil painting. It really was breathtakingly beautiful every single night. Just to be in that much beauty for so long is really awe inspiring. It makes you feel so small in the world.

Lindsay – I had a euphoric moment one evening after we had been windbound for a couple of days on the Great Bear Lake. One of my biggest dreams from childhood has been to catch fish and then have enough time to actually smoke it over the fire. Since we were windbound I finally did have the time. I remember sitting around the campfire that night really late because we were trying to stay on top of our sleep schedule and stay up through the night even though we were windbound and I was just totally euphoric; overcome with happiness and joy about having realized my dream. Not just with smoking the fish but the trip in general was something I had dreamed of for about a decade prior and I was just like “wow, I’m living it right now with five of my best friends “. I was on cloud 9.

Emily – Overall I think our group was the major highlight for me. I loved being with those women and our cohesion, love, trust and mutual admiration really made the trip what it was. If we hadn’t bonded or moulded together as a unit the way we did, it would have been a totally different experience.

Part of the intention behind the 6 North of 60 trip was to lead by example and inspire more young women to make these kinds of trips by showing them how capable we can be in wilderness environments. Is there a piece of advice or essential gear recommendation that you might pass on to the next group of girls who attempt this trip or a similar trip?

Meredith – The best advice I could give would be to really communicate intentionally with your tripmates. We made a point of just checking in with each other every few days to give everyone the opportunity to get anything off of their chests and address any tensions. There really weren’t any tensions, but we were sure to get on top of anything small so that it didn’t escalate. Communication is also important for safety. Everyone in the group needs to be comfortable enough to express when they’re not feeling comfortable enough to do something. This was especially important during one of the last sections of the trip on the Coppermine where there was a lot of rapids and whitewater paddling. By that point in the trip we were really comfortable with one another. You need to be able to be honest with your group about when you are afraid or uncomfortable or unable to do something and not be embarrassed. Sometime you’re too exhausted to portage any further and you need to be able to take breaks or ask for help and not feel like you are letting the group down.

Also I think the idea of expressing gratitude on trip is so important. One of the main things that we took from Ogichi is something that we always did on camp trips called “a grateful circle”. We do it at the end of each day when we’re gathered around the campfire, all the campers and staff go around and say something that they’re grateful for; that carried over from Ogichi into our trip. Expressing gratitude for your trip mates, for the land around you, the experiences of the day. I’ve always loved hearing everyone’s responses because it really helps you to understand what kind of trip they’re having. Expressing appreciation for your tripmates in a genuine way and setting time aside to do that everyday really creates a strong bond and a cohesive group.

Emily – Intention and gratitude were fundamental to our expedition. We shared our intentions / goals / feelings at the beginning of each body of water. Some simple, and some more profound. But it helped us live purposefully, and to be focused on more than just day-to-day trip tasks. We also had a grateful circle every night; being conscious all day about what you are grateful for, and sharing those with your sisters at night has a profound impact.

In terms of gear, we really appreciated all of the gear we brought. The most important items that we had for this expedition that we don’t normally take were higher quality expedition boats (two Prospector 17 and one Prospector 18 in TuffStuff Expedition), spray skirts, dry pants, and bug shirts. Each was essential. Our boats really took a beating, but held up beautifully, and allowed us to have more confidence as we navigated that wild land. The spray skirts saved us in the rapids where we would have took on too much water, and allowed us to run loaded boats versus portaging our gear. They also kept us warmer while paddling on the cold nights. The dry pants were essential for our walks upstream. So many days of this in icy water without those would have been pretty rough. And finally the bug shirts: absolute lifesavers. We wore them all the time and they made a huge difference to our sanity. Many mornings were spent eating oatmeal inside our shirts to avoid having 1,000 mosquitos in our breakfast.

Sammi – The biggest lesson is just learning to let things go. The whole challenge of what life is like living in the wilderness is that you have no control over major things like the weather that can impact your daily life in huge ways. The most humbling experience is accepting that and finding peace in that, which is much easier said than done. At the same time, trust in your skills and trust in your instincts.

Lindsay – My advice is don’t be afraid to take the first initial steps. We talked about doing this for so long and it just never happened because the timing was never right and there were a lot of people that just thought that we couldn’t do it. It was pretty discouraging and devastating honestly. So my advice is just believe in yourself.. If you want to do something badly enough and it’s a dream of yours, you will find a way to make it happen. Once you take the first steps forward, things will start to align. If you work hard and put the effort in it will come together how it’s supposed to. Don’t listen to the haters.

For more images from their incredible trip, check out @6Northof60 on Instagram


Kevin Callan Paddles the Thames River

July 13th, 2018 by

Kevin's Nova Craft Canoe Fox 14' Solo canoe on the banks of the Thames south of London, Ontario

Our friend Kevin Callan, also known as the Happy Camper, is used to tripping in rugged and remote locations. Kevin’s is a familiar name in the world of canoe tripping; he is an author and instructor who is featured regularly on CBC radio, morning talk shows, at canoe symposiums and tradeshows as well as in publications like Explore and Canoeroots magazine. He is probably best known for his series of guidebooks, which cover canoe routes in regions all over Ontario and Quebec. He is also a Nova Craft ambassador and is partial to our Prospector canoe.


hen Kevin told us that he would be paddling the Thames River as part of a partnership with the southern Ontario tourism board, we were pretty excited about it. We manufacture in London, Ontario and the Thames River runs right through our little city and through a couple of other towns in Southwestern Ontario. Rugged and remote it is not. The river is generally underused in its recreational capacity, and although day paddlers can be found on it in spring and early summer (while water levels allow for paddling), paddling the entire length of the river is pretty much unheard of. Here’s what Kevin had to say about his adventures on the Thames River:

I survived my eight days paddling down southwestern Ontario’s Thames River – from Woodstock to Lighthouse Cove on Lake St. Clair. There was a heat wave and I had some guy wander into my campsite one night and try to convince me that the Ku Klux Klan was a good organization to join. But overall it was an amazing trip. My video series about my time spent on the Thames is up on my KCHappyCamper You Tube channel.

It was a slightly different journey for me. The Thames is an urban river with farms, cities and small hamlets found along the way. So I packed a bike-lock to secure my canoe (Nova Craft 14ft. Fox Solo) if I had to wander away from the riverbank. I also carried my own water due to agricultural runoff making the river undrinkable. I had to think outside the box on where to camp most nights. But I managed: a stranger’s backyard, a roadside pull-over, a farmer’s field, and a couple of fancy hotels, all made great places to pitch my tent.


The trip had a bit of Huck Finn flavour to it. The Thames is definitely comparable to the Mississippi River. It runs a full 300 plus kilometres and is the most southern watercourse in Canada. I’m more acclimatized to canoeing rivers in the far north where it’s rare to see another paddler, let alone any sign of development along the banks. Surprisingly, the river is mostly wild; except for brief encounters with golf courses and road bridges.

Each day the river changes character. The upper stretch was more creek like, remote, and alive with song birds. I saw little of the city of London. If it wasn’t for the odd shopping cart littering the bank or seeing families enjoying a bicycle ride along the river trail, you wouldn’t even know suburbia existed all around you. The section where I paddled through the First Nations Reserves was a wilder part of the river with no development around me. After spotting 12 bald eagles, I gave up counting. The lower half is the stretch of river the Voyageurs called a “respectable ditch.” The clay banks rose up all around me and the river twisted and turned.There were wider banks and less moving water. And I started to see houses. The river still has a subtle charm to it all, however. Massive cottonwood trees hung their branches over the distorted  banks. There were less eagles but lots of herons, ducks and kingfishers. The lower reaches of the river is also rich in history, from epic War of 1812 battles to the most northerly Underground Railroad where slaves escaped from the U.S.

The last portion was more like an elongated pond than a river. Big boats cruised by and the wind coming off Lake Saint Claire made the last hour of paddling a bit of an ordeal. But over all, the Thames was an amazing river to journey down. It doesn’t seem to get the credit it deserves. Some fellow paddlers snubbed their noses up at me when I told them I was going to paddle the Thames, from tributary to it’s mouth. They labelled it polluted, boring, and uneventful. I disagree. This is one amazing river to paddle, whether you do it in sections as a series of day trips or as one full journey, you won’t be disappointed.

By the time I pushed out into the waves of Lake St. Clair I had connected to one of the best paddles southwestern Ontario has to offer. The Thames is an amazing river that’s rich in history, alive in biodiversity, and full of ever changing character.

How to: Install Skid Plates

December 23rd, 2017 by

The who, what, where, how of skid plates

The off season is the perfect time to assess the past season’s wear on your canoe’s hull. If you notice the gelcoat on your composite canoe wearing thin on the hull’s stems, it may be time to install skid plates.

You might be wondering:

What’s a skid plate?

A skid plate is a strip of aramid (Kevlar) felt applied with resin to the bow and stern stems of a canoe in order to reinforce these areas of the hull, which tend to be most vulnerable to impact and abrasion. Skid plates are especially useful if you paddle in areas where there’s a high chance of impact (rocky rivers, for example) or if you are in the habit of running the canoe aground when you reach shore.

Can skid plates be put on any canoe?
Almost. Depending on the material of the hull, you will need different types of resin adhesives to apply the skid plates. Nova Craft offers two types of skid plate kits: one for use on ABS (Royalex) hulls and one for use on composite (fiberglass, TuffStuff, Kevlar, carbon fibre etc). The instructions for application vary slightly between these two kits.
Currently there is no kit available which is suitable for applying skid plates to polyethylene (SP3) hulls.

How much weight will skid plates add to my canoe?
Like any upgrade and modification, skid plates will alter the total weight of your boat – expect them to add between 2-3 lbs.

Can I install skid plates myself?
Yes! Installing skid plates is easy enough to do on your own. Just make sure you’re working in a well ventilated, room temperature area. Check out the video below for a step-by-step guide for installing skid plates on a composite hull. You can purchase your kit here, or order one through your nearest Nova Craft distributor.
In addition to the contents of the kit, you’ll need a few more things to do the job right:
– a set of saw horses
– tape measure
– pencil
– newspaper or garbage bags
– masking tape
– paint thinner

Be sure to let the skid plates cure overnight before you take your canoe on the water.

Video by Wayne Jennings.

Celebrating 5 Years of the Paddle in the Park Contest

November 11th, 2017 by

The PITPC flag image for year 5

Fiona Westner-Ramsay of Badger Paddles calls it an outdoor advocacy campaign disguised as a contest.


he started the Paddle in the Park Contest in 2012 with friend and outdoor blogger Preston Ciere after coming across research which outlined the many physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature. She wanted to come up with a way to encourage people to get outdoors and reap those rewards. One day the concept for the contest just clicked – what if she could encourage people to get outside by hiding tangible rewards for them to find and keep?

Since 2012, Fiona, Preston and others have been hiding paddles within the boundaries of Ontario’s provincial parks and methodically leaking clues about their whereabouts to a devoted following of contest participants. Each year the contest gets tweaked slightly, with twists on the original rules, new locations and hiders. Past paddle hiders have included Kevin Callan, Hap and Andrea Wilson, and Becky Mason.

For the last three years the contest has expanded beyond the original paddle-seeking scavenger hunt model. Participants can now also download a Paddle Points checklist of the contest’s website and submit photos which demonstrate that they’ve completed the items on the list. The list includes everything from visiting the retail locations of contest sponsors to cooking bannock and pitching tents. Those who accrue paddle points are eligible to win prize packs from the contest’s sponsors.

Most importantly, five years later the contest has lived up to Fiona’s original vision of inspiring individuals and families to spend quality time in the outdoors, and to take advantage of the many benefits that doing so confers. In this sense all contest participants walk away winners.

Since the contest began in 2012, Nova Craft has sponsored the contest by providing the grand prize, a Prospector 16 canoe, for the lucky draw winner. This year we are pleased to present the prize to Katherine Siren, a regular participant in the contest who accrued 1135 paddle points this year.

Congratulations to Katherine and a big thank you to Fiona, Preston and everyone involved in making the Paddle in the Park Contest a continued success. Remember: “rewards are out there”!

Katherine Siren, Grand Prize winner of the 2017 Paddle in the Park Contest, will take home a Nova Craft Prospector 16 canoe

Canoe Tripping Stateside with Explore the Backcountry

June 2nd, 2017 by

Brad and Wayne Jennings of "Explore the Backcountry" in the canyons of the Rio Grande, 2015.

Nova Craft ambassador Brad Jennings has had quite the “off-season”. He recently returned to his home in northern Ontario after completing major trips in Florida and in Texas, back to back.


rowing up paddling and camping in Ontario myself, I’ve been spoiled for choice. With millions of lakes, rivers and 72 designated provincial parks, there’s a lifetime worth of trips right here in my home province, let alone in Canada generally. With so much to do and see here, travelling in other countries for the purpose of backcountry paddling hasn’t been a priority for me. But I was intrigued to hear more about Brad’s trips and to learn a few things about what it’s like tripping in the states. I arranged to speak with Brad and his father, Wayne Jennings, who together form the duo behind the outdoors blog Explore the Backcountry. Below are excerpts from our conversation and some of the insights they shared with me.

Where in the US have you traveled to for the purposes of backcountry paddling and camping?

Wayne – Together we’ve done trips in the Adirondacks (New York), the Everglades (Florida), and the Rio Grande (Texas). Brad did the Rio Grande for a second time this year. We’ve also done some paddling in the Florida Keys, although mostly just day trip stuff.

Brad – I’ve also competed in adventure racing throughout several US states but when you’re racing you’re paddling 120 km in 12 hours, which is a totally different experience. So I’ve paddled in multiple states but have only really experienced the backcountry in the three mentioned.

What interested you about tripping in the US generally – why did you initially decide that you wanted to plan a trip in the US?

Wayne – The original inspiration is just the fact that it’s cold in Canada in the winter and we want to paddle all the time.  Planning trips in the southern states give you an opportunity to extend your paddling season.

Brad – I think most paddlers can agree they get cabin fever during the winter months and winter camping can only quell that so much. So we started seeking areas that were feasible in terms of driving distance that we could paddle without worrying about snow. We got the idea for the Everglades trip after a family vacation to the Keys. Then the inspiration for the Rio Grande trip was that Wayne and his father, 36 years ago, paddled the Rio Grande and I grew up hearing tons of stories about that.

So this is the second iteration of the father/son Rio Grande trip.

Brad – Exactly. I grew up hearing about it and there’s this one photo framed in my dad’s basement of him and my grandfather on the Rio Grande with this huge canyon wall behind them and I used to think it just looked so cool. It’s such a unique environment. In Ontario we’re generally a fairly flat province without a lot of topographical relief so the concept of paddling in the canyons of Mexico and Texas was quite enticing.

Can you tell me a bit about your most recent excursions in the US? Let’s start with Florida. How long was the trip? Where did you start & where did you finish?

Brad – On our first trip to Florida, a couple years back, we had paddled the northern part of Everglades National Park, which is called the Ten Thousand Islands. That area is really gorgeous because it’s littered with these big white sandy beaches and a bunch of little islands. We were really into the idea of paddling from beach to beach for days on end. So we spent about a week of paddling through a mixture of Oceanside beaches and interior rivers, looping around the coast and back to Everglades City.  In March, on our second trip to the Everglades, we did the southern section, starting and finishing at the port town of Flamingo.
We had a bit of a late start the first day and got stuck with really high winds and low tides. They were gale force winds so they were coming off the water at like 60-70 kms/hr. There was a small craft wind advisory in effect but the park rangers looked at us and said “Ah yeah you guys’ll probably be alright. You look like you know what you’re doing” cause we had all of our nautical charts, tidal charts, gear and whatnot. Anyway the winds were so bad that we had to turn back and we ended up staying at that main campground for the first night. Then we started over: we got up bright and early the next day and there’s a main navigation channel that takes you out to deeper water so we kind of huffed it out. Thankfully we had a fast boat (Nova Craft Cronje) and bent shaft paddles. We did a big 30km day to get around the cape. Tailwinds were just hammering us, whipping up like three foot waves.

That doesn’t really sound like a relaxing beach vacation.

Brad – Not to begin with at least.

One of the Jennings’ beach sites in Everglades National Park

Wayne – At the ranger’s station they provide you with a tide chart which shows you when its low tide and when its high tide based on your location. So you plan your route on that as well as on the wind and on the weathershore. And you don’t have to worry about any of that on Georgian Bay so it’s really a totally different mindset.
Paddling inland in the Everglades is quite like paddling the rivers and lakes up here: it’s fairly calm and fairly sheltered although open areas can get windy. But you’ve really got to be cautious on the ocean. Before you head out, you plan your route with the rangers and they’ll advise you if there are any issues or bad weather coming in. The thing about the ocean is, you’ve got to leave early every day. You’ve got to leave by 7 because around noon things start whipping up. You need to plan your route so that you’re paddling all morning and then have your afternoon at your site. Not only can the waves whip up but you’ve got tides to contend with. Near the beach sites, the water’s actually quiet shallow so even if you do tip, you can get yourself back in pretty easily because the waters usually only a few meters deep just off shore. But because it’s shallow when the tide goes out you can have real issues getting to the campsite and leaving your campsite. When the tide goes out the sand is real mushy – you’ve got to drag your boat and all your gear way inland to set up camp, which is a challenge because your sinking the whole time into this oozy stuff. So basically we figured out quickly we had to do it in several trips: take everything out of the boat and come back and lift the boat out because otherwise you get bogged down.

Hmm, sort of like a tropical portage?

Wayne – Exactly.

Wayne catches a breeze on a “chickee”

Brad – After a couple of days on the coast we turned inland. There’s a couple different types of sites in Everglades National Park: there’s beach sites on the coast, ground sites which are usually on old native shell mounds where there’s a couple of hardwood trees and that’s  really the only place you can pitch a tent in all the mangrove swamps. The mangrove swamps are just a maze of roots and that’s literally what lines the shores all throughout the interior is just these huge mazes of mangroves. It’s a sea of green. So where there are no ground sites the park has installed these things called “chickees” which are elevated platforms with a bit of a roof and a toilet out in the middle of the river. We stayed at those a couple of nights.

Wayne: Not a bad place to catch a breeze and a nice fishing platform too.

Brad: The whole loop was about 160km. We spent about a week doing it. So basically that was Florida: just a nice time in the hot sun. Lot of bugs though. It’s pretty different than here in Ontario because the season for paddling in the Everglades is winter months. By the time parks are icing out up here the park down there’s shutting down because they’re getting hurricane season and the bugs are getting waaay too bad. The backcountry is inhospitable essentially. Because we were there near the end of season the bugs were pretty bad.

So, then, you guys drove back to the London (Ontario) area, and how long were you here for before you left for Texas, Brad?

Brad – Only about two days. So, Wayne went back to work, he could only get so much time off work. My girlfriend Leah flew down from Thunder Bay. David and Anita Lee of The Passionate Paddler arrived at our place with their boat and vehicle and then we basically caravanned all the way down to Rio Grande Village in Big Bend National Park, Texas.
It was a two day drive for us but we had a pretty aggressive timeline. One day was a 16 hour day and the other was like a 14/15 hour day and that’s just driving, not including any stops for food, gas etc.
We started out in Rio Grande Village which is where Wayne and I finished our Rio Grande trip in 2015. The 2015 trip was a route from Lajitas through Santa Elena Canyon and the Great Unknown through Mariscal  Canyon, finishing up at Rio Grande village campground. After that trip I totally fell in love with the area and did more research. I discovered there was a place called the Lower Canyons. As the river continues to flow outside of the park it goes through what the national park service administers as a “wild and scenic river” and that keeps flowing for another 200km through basically pure wild lands. It’s all canyons and mountains. Very desolate and remote which I thought sounded great. There was supposed to be a lot of whitewater but unfortunately for us they were going through a massive drought. Locals we talked to said it was about 10 degrees celsius warmer than usual. Totally unseasonably warm. We were getting temperatures in the desert up to 55 degrees Celsius at times. It was hot. And unfortunately for us the gauge was dropping on the river even as we were driving down. So were like driving for two days wondering if there’s even going to be water for us to put in to when we get there. It was a little nuts. But there was water!

Leah and Brad in a Moisie on the Rio Grande. By David Lee.

Brad – We launched down the Rio Grande and water levels were low for the first stretch. We left civilization behind fairly quickly and entered the magnificent canyons of Boquillas Canyon. We spent our first night and our next 4 nights nestled beneath these 1,500 feet high walls– absolutely spectacular camping out there with nothing around. While you’re paddling you’re just craning your neck the whole time looking up at these canyons.
Along the way there was quite a bit of rapids but because the water levels were so low the rapids were very very bony. The guidebook told us that at the rate of river flow we were paddling we were better off just going home but of course, after all the time it took us to get there, there was no way we were going home.  Even with loaded boats we didn’t have to walk. And by loaded boats I mean really loaded boats because we had to take many items that you wouldn’t normally need to account for in Canada. Because the river was low flow and there were so many technical rapids there were a lot of wall and cane shots. As the river bends around the corner, there’s only a small channel that you can take to run the rapid because the rest of the river is just gravel bar. So there’s this narrow channel pushing hard into the wall. Sometimes the best channel is to go right through the cane. As you know, traditional whitewater knowledge will tell you that you shouldn’t go through a sweeper but often on this trip they were the only flushing lines. Thankfully it’s fairly soft but you did sort of have to fight your way through it.
Also in those flows where the canyons takes an abrupt 90 degree turn, the water’s flushing into the wall and hurling back at you so your pretty much playing bumper canoes with the wall. I was really impressed with the stability and control of the boat (Nova Craft Moisie) in situations like that. I think other boats would have tipped that don’t have as much freeboard.
We finished the route at Johnson’s Ranch near Dryden, Texas. There’s a highway about 50km off the river to the north. Our shuttle driver picked us up there and we travelled down a dusty desert road towards the highway back to our vehicles.

And at times during the trip you were actually in Mexico right?

Brad – Yeah, the really interesting thing about the Rio Grande river is that it forms the border between the US and Mexico so essentially it’s a fluid border and at some points you’re in Mexico, at some points you’re in Texas. We probably split our time pretty evenly between the two countries.  Mexico seemed to always be nice and shady just based on the direction of the river and the sun at the time by the time lunch was. So we would always have lunch in Mexico in the shade which was really nice.
Some of the nicer campsites midway through the trip had these gorgeous hot springs, like a private oasis in the canyons. The water’s not super hot but like warm bathwater at about 36 d Celsius. On the Mexican side, there’s a gorgeous crystal clear pool and people have built up a nice rock ring around in. So we sat in there for a few hours and just relaxed.
Technically you’re not supposed to camp in Mexico but there wasn’t really any suitable place to camp on the American side so just went for it. We did see the border patrol once during our trip however – three guys carrying heavy M16s and bulletproof vests. We just kept paddling and they let us go.
Now there are ranchers along some stretches on the Mexican side who let their cattle roam free, so a couple of times you might see ranchers which are like real cowboys. We definitely saw cows. If a cow crosses the river in the states it becomes property of the US government.

What’s different in terms of logistics for tripping across the border? Was there anything in your normal tripping gear you couldn’t bring across or thought twice about bringing?

Brad – Definitely the border is an issue because you can’t bring over any fresh food. That means we had to do a lot of pre-packaging of stuff and a lot of planning ahead, compiling a list of groceries to buy in the states. Otherwise most of the stuff you’d bring on a trip up here you can bring there too. If you have a firearm you can’t bring that obviously. Expect to spend a bit of time talking at the border though. You’ll get strange looks from the agents when you have two canoes on your roof in the dead of winter.
In terms of unique items that you wouldn’t normally trip with in Ontario, it’s really dependent on where you’re going. For example, when we went to the Adirondacks we didn’t need to bring these things because it’s very similar to what we’re used to. But we went to the Florida Everglades and the desert. They’re harsh environments where the resources we take for granted here, namely fresh water, is not available. In the Everglades it’s either saltwater in the ocean or brackish water inland. In Texas, the water in the river’s too silty and there are actually contaminants and e-coli from runoff a thousand miles upstream where the border towns are and all those cows roam. There are also traces of uranium naturally occurring in the bedrock there. So you have to bring your own water in if you want to paddle in either of those places. And it’s quite a bit that you need to bring, because you’re using it for drinking as well as cooking.  Leah and I brought 5 or 6 jugs, big jugs which are 5 or 6 gallons each, and we were near the end of that supply by the end of the 9 day Rio Grande trip.

Wayne – Literally you’re taking as much water in weight as a third person, so you’ve got to account for that. It takes up a ton of space in the boat, I don’t know how you’d do it in a kayak. In a canoe you just got to get creative with your packing. We had four fair sized jugs and as you consume them you need to sort of shuffle the weight around so that its spread out evenly.
Another thing that comes to mind is a bug net. They have really tiny bugs in Florida called no-see-ums and sand fleas. We brought head nets that normally work great against mosquitoes and stuff up here but I found that they weren’t much protection against the no see ums. Next time I’d get that special extra fine mesh for bug protection. We didn’t have that and it was an issue for us.
The tide charts are also essential. And for the Rio Grande you need to bring a toilet system and a fire pan.

What kinds of wildlife did you encounter down there?

Brad – We were warned about poisonous snakes, spiders, panther, bears – but in terms of the most dangerous animal we saw out in Texas it was actually a bull. A male bull overseeing a herd of females is fairly aggressive. We came around a blind turn on a Class I rapid and there was a bull standing right in the middle of the river and we just started kind of hollering at it to scare it and get it to move out of the way. It didn’t move until the very last second, it was pretty nuts.

Campfire beneath the canyon walls.

Anywhere you travel in the backcountry there will be predators. Here of course there are bears, mountain lions, wolves, venomous snakes. In Florida there are venomous snakes too, but there are also lots of things lurking in the water. We take it for granted in Ontario that you can jump into a clear lake and nothing’s going to gnaw on your leg like a shark or an alligator would. The Everglades has three species of crocodilians: caymans (which are smaller), alligators (predominantly found in the brackish waters – interior lakes, and rivers) and crocodiles (which are really rare: there are only 2000 in Florida and they’re all found along the southern coast in saltwater only). But typically like any species in Ontario if you give them a wide berth then they’ll give you a wide berth. We never had any close encounters with them but apparently the alligators can be just as curious as a black bear stumbling into your site in Algonquin. You can do the same things to deter them, like making a lot of noise and banging your paddles. Always keep your distance and give the animal respect. Typically they’re just as afraid of you as you are of them so you can approach them with the same mentality that you would when backcountry camping in Ontario.

Major national and provincial parks can get kind of crowded during paddling season here in Canada…Did you encounter many other paddlers in the state and national parks you visited in the US? 

Wayne – As far as the crowds go, obviously if you’ve done any camping up here you know that in order to get the choice sites you have to book months in advance. If you want the prime spots in Killarney and Algonquin you’ve really got to plan ahead. The way it works in the parks I’ve been to in Texas and Florida: you cannot pre-book. You can only book it the day of or the day prior which prevents people from booking all the sites up ahead of time. So when you get there, at the ranger station, you tell them the route you want to take and they basically plot it out for you where you’re not going to be on a lake or a campsite with a lot of other people, or, if there are others, they’ll tell you: “okay on this designated beach site, six people are allowed to camp there, right now there’s two others there or no others there what have you”.

The thought of driving all the way to Florida not knowing what sites will be available when you get there stresses me out a little bit.

Wayne – Yeah, but crowds have never been an issue. We asked the park rangers down there about it, and I think the only time you would run into an issue is a holiday weekend. People don’t paddle the parks the way we do here in Canada. They do, but it’s not the same level of intensity. Only once we ended up at a campsite with another group. That was at a double chickee so we had to share a platform with them which wasn’t a big deal. In fact it was kind of neat: you get to meet new people and these guys were Florida natives so it was nice to talk to some locals.

Anything else you want to add?

Wayne – It’s dirt cheap compared to Canada. Backcountry camping here nowadays I think its 12 or 13 dollars per person per night, which isn’t a ton but over a week it adds up. In the US it’s $15 for your permit fee which covers you the whole week and then its $2 per person per night, which is a lot cheaper, even in US dollars.

Brad – In terms of cost: Sure, our dollar sucks but gas is tremendously cheap. Even with the dollar conversion we were paying like 50c / liter. The most we ever paid was 80c / litre and at that time gas was 1.24 up here. The lower canyon of the Rio Grande was $14 per party for up to two weeks. There are also a couple of other fees they’ll tack on like a 10$ parking fee or whatnot but all in all it was cheap compared to our provincial and national park systems. The only issue is if you’re doing a shuttle, those can get expensive.  We paid $900 for our shuttle service in Texas.

What’s left on your US tripping wish list?

Brad – The Green River in Utah; The Devil’s River and the Pecos River in Texas.

Wayne – I’ll go anywhere that Brad wants to go.  I’d also like to paddle the Dry Tortuga National Park in the Gulf of Mexico; Suwannee River in Florida or some of the river systems where the manatees congregate; the Colorado river; Grand Canyon.

Brad and Wayne in the Everglades, 2017.



How to: Repair Composite Hulls

December 16th, 2016 by

Check out the video below to see how it's done.

Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Despite your best efforts to avoid accidents, errors in loading, carrying or paddling your composite canoe can incur damage to the hull of the boat. Being in the canoe business for over 45 years, we’ve pretty much seen it all: from people who have lost canoes off of the roof of their vehicle, to paddlers who have made bad judgement calls in whitewater, forklift nightmares in shipping, etc.


ost of the time, the damage incurred to composite boats is repairable – and easily repairable at that. This is one of their greatest advantages over their plastic counterparts.

If you do crack your canoe, the repair method we recommend is to apply a layered patch to the interior of the hull first, and perform a gelcoat repair to the exterior afterwards.

In the video below, we show you how to patch repair composite hull cracks. You can purchase a Composite Hull Repair Kit through your local Nova Craft dealer or by calling us at 866 88 CANOE.


Gunwale 101

October 31st, 2016 by

Ash vs. aluminum - Find out what's best for you.

Shopping for a canoe often involves more than people expect. Between choosing a model, material, trim and colour, the experience can feel overwhelming to some. Because most people want to invest in one canoe that will last them a lifetime, they want to be sure that they’re getting it right the first time. This blog entry is dedicated to simplifying one area of choice: gunwales.


et’s start with the basics. What are gunwales? Gunwales (pronounced “gunnels”, sometimes referred to as “rails”) are the part of the canoe that run along the top edge of the hull. Canoe manufacturers often offer gunwales in different materials, each with different advantages and disadvantages. Read on for the run down on our gunwale options.




Nova Craft offers a different standard gunwale material and trim package (seats, yoke etc.) according to the canoe’s hull material. Standard trim systems are included in the price of the boat.



Nova Craft SP3 hulls on our Outfitters Series boats are always trimmed with vinyl gunwales. Vinyl gunwales are the most flexible option and are therefore less likely to be kinked or damaged by hard impacts. Our Outfitter Series canoes are designed for maximum durability as they need to stand up to heavy use and abuse in rental outfits and summer camps. Vinyl gunwales are also less expensive and help keep the cost of these boats low. The downside? Weight. Vinyl is heavy, and so is the SP3 material we use in the hulls. Overall, these are the heaviest boats we produce.



On our composite hulls (Fiberglass, TuffStuff, TuffStuff Expedition, Aramid Lite, Blue Steel), aircraft grade black anodized aluminum gunwales come standard. The anodized aluminum gunwales are the lightest option we offer. If you enjoy canoe tripping off of the beaten path, you’re likely no stranger to portaging. Shaving pounds off the total weight of the boat is usually very important to portagers, and aluminum gunwales help keep this number as low as possible. An additional benefit of the aluminum gunwales is that they are virtually maintenance free and can last forever.


Available Upgrades

In addition to the standard aluminum gunwales on our composite hulls, we also offer an upgrade to white ash gunwales. “Why upgrade?” is one of the more frequently asked questions we receive.



There are many benefits to upgrading to our ash gunwales. The most obvious reason is aesthetic. Wood gunwales have a classic and traditional look that is tough to beat. But there are also some practical reasons why one may opt for ash over aluminum. Wood trim is quieter on the water. If you are interested in hunting, nature photography, or simply observing wild animals in their natural habitat, travelling very quietly is important. Animals are less likely to be scared away when paddles knock against wooden gunwales. Ash is also very comfortable to handle and carry because it is a non-conductive material. Aluminum, on the other hand, will heat up in the sun and get quite cold in low temperatures.

Our ash gunwales are oiled but not varnished. There is some upkeep required in order to keep oiled wood healthy and beautiful looking. Properly maintaining ash gunwales requires sanding and oiling them a couple of times a year. Also, canoes with wooden gunwales should be stored indoors over the off-season in order to prevent rotting.

We put a lot of time and careful effort into installing ash trim on our canoes. Because of the extra time and craftsmanship required by this process, there is a considerable upgrade fee which reflects the extra labour costs.


Seeking inspiration in the Canadian wild

October 5th, 2016 by

A still from the video for Carly Dow's song "Something Lost", filmed on the Yukon River during her
time with the Canadian Wilderness Artist Residency. Watch the full video below.

The Canadian Wilderness Artist Residency, started in 2015, invites artists to experience the magic of extended wilderness tripping in the hopes of inspiring works and dialog surrounding the themes of nature and national identity.

F. H. Varley’s “Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay”, 1921


he story of the artist travelling remote regions of the Canadian wilderness in order to create works inspired by their experiences is not a new one. After all, it is the story behind some of Canada’s most recognized art and its most famous artists, the Group of Seven. In the early twentieth century, the project of the Group of Seven was to document the Canadian landscape in order to establish a unique parochial aesthetic, distinct from the European tradition.

The artworks produced have served to cement the Canadian national identity as inextricable from the natural environment. In part, the goal of the Canadian Wilderness Artist Residency is for their artist residents to investigate this relationship. Through the residency program they “aim to broaden an understanding of the Canadian identity through art, community engagement, and reflection on the roles that nature and diversity play in our national narrative.”

Now in the early twenty first century, 100 years after the Group of Seven was formed, as we struggle to negotiate the balance between environmental health and human progress, the project of the CWAR has a renewed sense of vitality and urgency.

I spoke with Carly Dow, a recent participant, who articulated the importance of spending time in the outdoors in order to better understand our place in the world:

“It’s so important for people to realize that we are just a small part of a bigger picture. It’s easy to lose sight of that. Even as such emotionally intelligent beings we forget that we’re just a very small component of a larger system…it takes a bit of spending time in nature to regain that perspective and to appreciate how we fit into things and how we affect things. Hopefully all of that would result in recognizing the natural world’s intrinsic value and caring about it enough to protect it.”

Photo taken during the Yukon River trip with CWAR by Dow, August 2016

Carly is a musician based near Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba and is no stranger to spending time in the bush. She describes her music as a “wildcrafted soul folk” with elemental rhythms and lyrics based in natural imagery. While the CWAR is open to artists who work in all mediums, this summer Carly was the only musician in the group of ten artists-in-residence who spent 25 days in the Yukon, travelling the Yukon River by canoe from Whitehorse to Dawson City.

While the group rafted their canoes and enjoyed lunch floating down the river Carly often entertained them with her banjo. CWAR organizer Calder Cheverie captured this in his stunning video for Carly’s song “Something Lost”, filmed during the residency in August. “Something Lost” and its accompanying video offer a sense of what stands to be gained by encouraging creative engagement with wild spaces.

Since the Yukon River trip Carly has been paddling frequently and is fine-tuning a couple of the songs she penned during the residency. We can’t wait to hear them.

Watch the video for “Something Lost” below and learn more about the Canadian Wilderness Artist Residency here.

Welcoming Refugees Canadian Style

August 19th, 2016 by

A Syrian family enjoying their day on the water

Nova Craft Canoe is and always has been proud to be Canadian. To me, being a proud Canadian fundamentally means, at least, these two things: first, a respect for the land and natural environment of our country and, second, a dedication to the values of our nation as a cultural mosaic, namely inclusion and tolerance. In the spirit of living up to the title “proudly Canadian”, we recently organized a paddling event for new Canadians – a group of newcomers from Syria who were forced to flee from their home country to escape conflict.

Under Prime Minister Trudeau, Canada has pledged to accept 25,000 refugees from Syria. Since November of 2015, our community in London, Ontario has admitted nearly 1,000 government assisted refugees. We wanted to do our part to welcome them by sharing our favourite national pastime because, in our minds, there’s no better way to get acquainted with Canadian summers than by paddling a canoe. We partnered with the London Cross Cultural Learning Centre to organize a day of paddling and a BBQ lunch for a group of 40 Syrian newcomers. The event took place on a hot day in mid July at a conservation area south of the city. For many of the participants, this was their first time out of London and their first encounter with the local natural landscape, not to mention their first time in a canoe.

Kevin Callan & Andy Baxter paddling with a volunteer translator from the LCCLC

Following a brief session of paddling instruction on land, everyone was eager to get on the water, excited and a bit apprehensive. We paired younger participants with paddling volunteers and grouped families who wanted to stick together in their own boats. After some chaotic frenzy at the launch area we had everyone on the water. Our staff and volunteer team were blown away by how quickly the Syrian participants took to paddling. They started from shore slowly and cautiously, picking up speed once they got into rhythm. Standing on the shore, I could still hear their cheering and laughing as they disappeared around the bend. When they returned for lunch about an hour later many were singing as they paddled in, spurred on by our friend and brand ambassador Kevin Callan. We were pleasantly surprised to find that everyone wanted another go at it after lunch. It seemed that they were relishing the opportunity – so were we.

It was amazing for us to share the experience with them and they were incredibly grateful for it, eager to give back to us by portaging canoes back to the trailer at the end of the day. One woman even passed around homemade Middle Eastern cookies to our team of volunteers as a gesture of thanks. But it was their eagerness to participate and openness to learning new skills that impressed me most. In spite of the language barrier and cultural differences, it seemed obvious to me that the group of Syrians we spent time with were keen to learn about their new home and hopeful about integrating, becoming proud Canadians themselves in time. Hopefully they will continue to seek out opportunities to leave the city and spend time in the outdoors, developing the respect for nature that has become central to the narrative of our national identity.

Watch the videos below to get a taste of their reactions to paddling for the first time and to hear their stories.


5(ish) Questions with Kevin Callan

April 4th, 2016 by

Kevin Callan, host of the “The Happy Camper” radio show on CBC

Kevin Callan, AKA “The Happy Camper”, is a beloved ambassador for wilderness adventure in Canada. He has authored thirteen books on subjects related to camping and canoeing, contributes regularly to a number of outdoors periodicals, hosts “The Happy Camper” radio show on CBC and is a frequent guest on the morning show circuit. He is a renowned public speaker, an educator at Fleming College and has been named a Patron Paddler for Paddle Canada. He’s also a Nova Craft brand ambassador. In addition to the fact that he offers great advice is clearly a wealth of knowledge on all things canoe-camping related, Kevin’s appeal is based in his genuine and infectious love for being outdoors and his wicked sense of humour. Last week we chatted over the phone and I asked him 5(ish) questions related to canoe tripping.

Nova Craft : Which is your favourite park in Ontario?

Kevin Callan: Wow.

NC: Yeah, I know. Tough question. Maybe instead of a favourite you have a Top 3?

KC: Well, there’s two ways to answer this one. I can answer what my favourite is but it’s not really the truth, and, I mean, it’s a lame answer: I usually say that my favourite is the next one I’m going to. A lame answer, like I said, but the reason is that it’s not really about the destination it’s the fact that I’m going on the trip. So, scenery wise? Killarney is the best. I don’t think there’s any other place in Ontario or even in Canada that has that distinct landscape. For canoe tripping, I think Quetico really has it all because it’s got amazing canoe routes, landscape and short portages. It’s really made for the canoe. But for memory sake, Algonquin would be the third. Algonquin is really a silly place to paddle because the average portage is a thousand metres. But it’s that retrospective thing of going back there every year to go to all those places that I went to as a kid. So those would probably be the three. Although… Algoma’s one of my favourites too because I paddled there a lot in my pre-teens and adolescence… I could go on forever. It’s endless.

NC: What’s the best camp meal in your repertoire? What would you make to really impress someone you were taking out on a trip?

KC: Not only to impress them but also myself, one of the best that I’ve ever done was in Quetico. I’ll catch a lake trout and catch a walleye; I’ll open up the lake trout, put the walleye fillets inside the lake trout, put apples, onions, lemons and seasoning inside, sew it all up, put it in tinfoil and bake it on the fire…It’s great. And it’s one of those things that you can only get when you’re out there and everything goes just right. You might not get the fish but when you do it’s amazing.

NC: You’re always up on the latest trends in gear. Is there anything new that you’re feeling particularly excited about?

KC: There’s two trends that are going on right now and one I’m really interested in: they’re called stick stoves and they’re stoves that don’t run on fuel but on small  sticks and pinecones. It’s a bushcraft or survival thing but I’ve been using one for the past couple of years now and they make sense to me. I’ll bring a [traditional?] stove to use as a back up but if you use a stove that just runs on sticks you can really reduce the amount of gear that you’re bringing out with you and it’s a mini campfire so that’s kind of cool. I’m really with that trend. I have a collection of about six stoves.

The other thing is hammock camping. So the idea is that you hang a hammock and sleep in that instead of a tent. I’ve tried it and jokingly said that hammock camping is like your first kiss: the first time you try it you think “I’m not sure if this makes a lot of sense” but then you really want to try it again. The bonus of the hammock camping thing to me is that you can really go anywhere you want. If you really want to get away from everybody and from a normal campsite then you can just put up your hammock between a couple of trees anywhere. And that’s really why I prefer canoeing over kayaking or backpacking or whatever else. It’s really only the canoe that gets you into those small getaway places because you can use the canoe to portage. When you portage you really start to lose the crowd and get away; that’s why I prefer the canoe over any other mode of travel out there.

NC: Having good company on a trip is obviously really important. You seem to have a pretty kooky cast of characters that you trip with. What qualities do you look for in a trip partner?

KC: Well, the main thing is that we all know why it is we’re going out there. So before we leave we say “Ok, this is what I want out of the trip.” So there are no surprises.

Frequent trip companion Andy Baxter

If you want to do a fishing trip, everybody must know that this is a fishing trip. Or if it’s a destination type trip, or a recreational or a family trip, it’s important that we all know that.

The other thing, that my buddy Andy has always taught me, is that we really don’t complain out there and we don’t try to survive out there; we go out there to live and to rejoice in being there. So, there’s no homesickness, no “Oh I wish I was at home now” or “I think we should end the trip early”, there’s none of that because it’s our choice to be out there. Yeah, the portage might be bad, and you might grumble a bit, but there’s no complaining because you chose to be there. And that makes the whole trip completely different. Instead of surviving, it’s living and that’s a huge difference out there.

NC: Which celebrity would you choose to take on a week-long trip in the interior?

KC: Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip. Huge conservationist but also a really unique individual that I really don’t know anything about and I’d love to just sit around the campfire and talk to him.

NC: Yeah and maybe he’d play you some songs.

KC: Sure, that’d be nice but you know I don’t even care if he plays the songs I think it would just be cool to hang out.

NC: Bonus round – a quick game of “Would you rather…?” 

Tripping solo or with a large group?  Solo.

Flat water or white water? Flat.

Beaver tail or otter tail paddle? Beaver tail.

S’mores or hot dogs? S’mores!

Camp stove or cooking over the fire? Stove.



5 Questions with Explorer Adam Shoalts

March 17th, 2016 by

At age 29, Adam Shoalts has a fairly extensive and impressive resume: he’s been named among the top 100 explorers by National Geographic, he’s a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, a member of the illustrious Explorer’s Club, a PhD student and a bestselling author.

Adam was recently in town to give a presentation in support of his book Alone Against the North, published by Penguin in October of last year. Alone Against the North tells the true story of Adam’s 2012 Royal Canadian Geographic Society sponsored expedition to the Hudson Bay Lowlands, an area Adam refers to as the Canadian Amazon, where he and his paddling partner Brent set out to explore and map the remote Again River. But Brent didn’t last long, abandoning Adam, alone, in the kingdom of polar bear with a long ways to go before reaching the Again. Needless to say Adam returned to civilization with quite a tale to tell. We had a chance to sit down with him prior to his presentation and pick his brain over dinner.

What do you remember about your first canoe trip?

I can’t remember much of anything about my first canoe trip. One of my first memories of boating, I was pretty young maybe 7 or 8, was working on a raft like Huckleberry Finn style. I was always wanting to build rafts and take them out on the swamp. And I remember one time we built this raft out of birch logs and construction debris and whatnot (it probably wouldn’t have passed your [TuffStuff] tests) and I remember carrying it down to the river with my brother. This thing wasn’t built very well; it had nails sticking out from the birch logs all over the place. Anyways, when we were carrying it down, I dropped it and it cut my shin all the way down. I had to get stitches on my shin. But, I loved doing that kind of thing. I have a quote in my book – I try to start every chapter off with a quote from some of my favourite old books and things – and I have this one from Wind in the Willows: “there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats” And I take that to heart. As a kid I loved building boats and taking them out on the water. My father is really big into building these kinds of things, making things. He carves all of my paddles. The first canoe we built together was when I was 14. We built a cedar strip canoe and paddled it that summer together. Those are probably some of my best and earliest memories in boats.

What’s your favourite camp meal to prepare after a long day of paddling?

My favourite camp meal? Well, if I’m up in the subarctic it’s always nice if you have some fresh trout that you’ve caught. I travel as light as possible because I spend more time portaging and dragging my canoe than paddling it if I’m in muskeg swamp which means I don’t carry pans and I just cook my trout on green sticks over the fire. Up near Hudson’s Bay you can catch a lot of nice brook trout so that’s probably my favourite meal: catch a couple brook trout as I’m travelling and just cook them over the fire. As far as something that I pack, like rations? My favourite meal would be Backpacker’s Pantry Sweet and Sour Chicken. Just add boiling water, seal it up and it cooks for 13 minutes. I’ve never really been one for variety, I only pack two meals on expeditions: Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry and Sweet and Sour Chicken. That’s it. They’re both good and they both have a lot of calories. I always eat the whole pouch myself. I’m pretty hungry on those trips and I’ll eat just about anything.

What are the best and worst parts of solo tripping and what kind of advice do you have for somebody embarking on their first trip alone?

There’s a real simplicity to solo tripping. You don’t have to worry about interpersonal dynamics or group morale. All of those kinds of questions go out the window. Also, if you’re by yourself in the wilderness for weeks or months at a time you’ll see a lot more wildlife. I see a ton of wild animals when I’m by myself because I’m not talking to someone else, making noise and scaring away the caribou crossing the lake or the fox on the riverbank. Another thing that probably doesn’t occur to a lot of people is that most of my expeditions (at least half of them) I do in the Hudson Bay lowlands, far from any of the well travelled routes, where it’s mostly all muskeg and there’s more water than land. The landscape is like a giant sponge that sucks up water, it’s all marsh. So finding a big enough patch of dry ground to put a tent on can be a real challenge. An unexpected bonus of doing solo trips is that with more people, inevitably somebody will end up sleeping on the swamp. Dry land is at a premium and when you’re by yourself you get the pick of the best spot.

The worst thing about being alone is that its inherently risky: if you slip and hit your head on a rock or something goes wrong, there’s no one there to help you. There’s no margin for error. It’s more dangerous and you have to be more cautious, and really think about everything you do: every time you put your foot down as you’re wading through a river, every time you swing the axe, or what have you. You can’t take the same risks.

The first rule of any canoe trip is just to have fun – I mean, that’s the point of it all, right? Even now, as I’m planning an arctic five month expedition, I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think it would be fun. So, I’d tell them just to have fun, enjoy the experience and bask in the solitude. The first days of the first trip will be hard but it gets easier as you go on.

When you’re not out on an expedition, you’re a PhD student in the History department at McMaster University, can you tell us a bit about your dissertation research?

My academic research involves archaeology, geography and history. The research I do for my dissertation is pretty much the air I breathe. It’s about northern Canada, the historical geography of those lands and the interactions between aboriginal people and early explorers; sort of the untold history of a lot of those rivers. I do a lot of research before and after trips, not so much during them but I would say my research is pretty connected to the type of expeditions I choose to do and I can always find an interesting tidbit in an old explorer’s journal to use in my dissertation.

Where are you heading next? You mentioned earlier that you’re planning for a major expedition in the Arctic Circle…

Yeah, I might do a couple of weekend or week long trips beforehand but I’m going back up to the Arctic this summer and am going to be paddling up in the Northwest Territories, north of Great Bear lake. That’s this summer, yeah. It will be like a training/scouting trip for the big one [five months in the Arctic Circle]. I want to see what the water levels will be like on the East river in July, because that’s maybe around the time I’m going to hit it. I also want to meet with some of the pilots and maybe lodge owners since I’m relying on these people not to forget about me and my canoe drop. I’ve had pilots forget about me before.


Learn more about Adam and his exploits at

Spirit on the Water

January 27th, 2016 by

"Coming for the bride" by Edward S. Curtis, depicts a Guauaenok war canoe used in the marriage rites of the Kwakiutl of Vancouver Island

Nova Craft Canoe was founded in 1970 by Ken Fisher in Glanworth, Ontario. When Ken retired the company was purchased by its current owners in the fall of 1986. Along with Ken’s moulds, the new owners inherited the Nova Craft name and the thunderbird logo.

Ken Fisher’s original logo


he thunderbird features cross-culturally in the lore, legend, and artworks of many North American indigenous tribes. It is especially significant in the cultural history of tribes in the Pacific Northwest including the Haida, Nootka and the Coast Salish, although it also appears in oral histories of the southwest American Indian, tribes of the Great Lakes and of the Great Plains.

While descriptions of the thunderbird vary according to each tribe, it is universally said to be a being of supernatural size and power. Capable of causing great storms, the thunderbird produces thunder claps by flapping its wings and, in some legends, shoots lightning by blinking its eyes. The thunderbird also appears in myths which explain the occurrence of natural disasters such as floods and tsunamis.

“Thunderbird” by renowned Haida artist Don Yeomans, 1980

As a potent force of natural activity the thunderbird is revered in Native American cultures. Amongst tribes of the Pacific Northwest it is considered the most powerful of all spirits, earning top spot of the totem pole which symbolizes its great power and dominion in the natural order. Additionally, thunderbird effigies can be found on the cedar war canoes of coastal tribes (shown above).

In 2009 the Nova Craft logo was updated for a more contemporary look. Inspired by indigenous art of the region, the current logo better reflects the reverence for the thunderbird amongst tribes of the Pacific Northwest.

How to: Gelcoat Repairs

October 21st, 2015 by

A TuffStuff Expedition Prospector 17 with some bony rapids in the background. Photo by Jim Baird

As this paddling season comes to a close we’re taking stock of the feedback we have received about our new materials, TuffStuff and TuffStuff Expedition. We are happy to say that consumer reviews have been very positive and these new canoes have proven themselves as excellent options for flatwater and whitewater use.


ut it has become apparent that some paddlers who are used to plastic canoes will need to become more familiar with gelcoat. Gelcoat is the “paint” we use on our composite canoes. It is a resin that provides a smooth hard finish to a canoe. It protects the underlying cloth and acts as an abrasion layer. But in cases of impacts, pins or situations where the canoe is wrapped, gelcoat can chip and crack. The good news is that gelcoat can be repaired quite easily and if properly maintained your composite canoe will give you decades of use. Here’s our video showing how to complete a typical gelcoat repair.

While there may be more maintenance work involved with a gelcoated canoe, in the long-term composite hulls tend to outlast plastic ones. Properly maintained composite canoes last for decades because you can keep repairing them. In addition to gelcoat repairs you can easily add material patches to the inside of a composite canoe to stiffen or reinforce the hull where necessary. Eventually plastic canoes wear thin and repairs become unfeasible or cost prohibitive. As Royalex becomes increasingly scarce and TuffStuff/TuffStuff Expedition canoes become increasingly popular, we are confident that the paddling community will easily adjust to the simple requirements of maintaining the gelcoat finish of their canoes.

Gelcoat repair kits can be ordered from any authorized Nova Craft Canoe dealer. As mentioned in the video you may need to source one component (MEKP hardener) locally as it is considered a “dangerous good” and we can not mail it.

Back to the Thames River

May 15th, 2015 by

London's Mayor Matt Brown at the launch event of Back to the River’s design competition.

At Nova Craft Canoe we love our local waterways. We are fortunate to have some great places to paddle right here in our own backyard, including the historic Thames River. “Back to the River” is a new initiative being launched by the London Community Foundation in partnership with the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. The Back to the River project aims to revitalize a five kilometre stretch of London’s riverfront in the downtown area, namely at the forks of the Thames.


he Forks, located at the very centre of the city, is an area of considerable historical and cultural significance. Literally the birthplace of the city, the forks of the Thames inspired London’s consideration as the capital of Upper Canada in 1793. During London’s colonial settlement in the early nineteenth century the river served as an axis for the city’s urban planning with the forks established as the hub of the city, host to the marketplace, courthouse and small manufacturers. Owing to its rich history the Thames River was designated as a Canadian Heritage River in 2000.

In London’s more recent past, however, the downtown stretch of the Thames has fallen into disrepair, mostly thanks to neglect by local and federal government as well as the citizens of London. Since its designation as a Heritage river several clean-up initiatives have been introduced and public concern for the health of the river has risen.

The Back to the River project hopes to capitalize on the momentum of this concern and ultimately re-establish the once strong connection between Londoners and the Thames. It envisions the forks as a site for development opportunity and a catalyst for the downtown economy. Plans for the project include making the river more accessible for paddlers at the forks, as well as building waterfront cafes and restaurants.

Mayor Matt Brown, pictured above, has publically supported this mandate, most recently at the launch event of Back to the River’s design competition on May 5th 2015. The competition invites landscape design submissions from across North America. We can only hope that the city’s renewed interest in the Thames as a downtown attraction will also mean an increased respect for its water quality and ecosystem, preserving the river for many future generations of Londoners to enjoy.

Nova Craft Canoe

The Evolution of TuffStuff for Canoes Part 1

March 1st, 2015 by

It is trade show time in the Paddlesport business and because the buzz is all about our new TuffStuff material, I thought our first blog topic should focus on what people are talking about! Here are my own personal impressions on the development of this new and amazing canoe material.


ack in early 2014, we sent samples of TuffStuff to a material-testing lab in order to get some ideas of its characteristics. The results that came back to us were encouraging and because it was obvious that we were on to something good, we decided to build some prototypes. The first boats came off the production line during the summer and Nova Craft’s President Tim Miller was the first person to test one – first, on our local Thames River and then on the Grand River in Southern Ontario. While paddling, he made sure to hit as many rocks as possible and in the end, he was satisfied that we should continue with the development of this new product. In late September, Nova Craft employees paddled TuffStuff canoes during the annual staff paddle day. Everyone was very happy with how the new canoes performed – notably, the stiffness of the hulls and how well they glided through the water.

Knowing that we had a material that was suitable to paddle in both flatwater and easy moving water material was great, but we also needed to know if it would be appropriate for whitewater paddling. To that end, we decided to conduct a few in-house strength tests. You can view videos of these tests on YouTube – the first version, shot on a smart phone and a more professional, polished version here:

My eureka moment, when I really became convinced and excited about the quality of TuffStuff, was when Tim and I stood on the bottom of a TuffStuff Expedition Canoe and it gave absolutely no sign of being under stress. Neither the hull material, nor the gelcoat showed any signs of failing. Most remarkable to me was the fact that the hull didn’t even make a sound as 460 pounds of big-boned fat blokes bounced up and down on the boat. The other tests involving bending samples in a vice and pounding the bottom of a canoe with a sledgehammer only convinced me further of its quality.

Since the material passed these tests with flying colours, we decided that something more extreme was required. A lot more extreme. See The Evolution of TuffStuff Part 2.

The Evolution of TuffStuff for Canoes Part 2

February 28th, 2015 by

In early October, we decided to drop a Tuff Stuff Expedition Canoe off the roof of our 100-foot high warehouse. For me, this is where the wow-factor really kicked in.


y vantage point for this shoot was about 100 meters away, monitoring one of several video cameras and taking photos. I had an awesome view of the canoe falling, but I couldn’t see the moment of impact. I had fully expected to find the canoe in pieces but was totally stunned to see that it had survived – intact. We were all blown away. That’s when our Production Manager, Jeff Bear, suggested that we take it for a paddle to prove the hull was still sound and able. Once again, we were all very pleased to find that the canoe paddled just fine after taking such a massive amount of abuse. It took on a little water, but there was no doubt that a simple field repair was all you would need to get out of the woods. See the video below:

After this, our confidence in this new material skyrocketed. All that was required were some extreme, real-world tests of a TuffStuff canoe being put through its paces on whitewater. We decided to send a canoe out to MEC Calgary, so that their staff could determine whether or not it was suitable whitewater material. You can view their video here. The canoe is subjected to tons of abuse, the most extreme of which is a wrap around a big rock in the middle of the Bow River. The TuffStuff Expedition canoe survives the wrap and they continue to paddle for the rest of the day. Any concerns about real-world durability were quickly being put to rest.

For more results from the field, we provided Brad and Wayne Jennings of a TuffStuff Expedition Prospector 16 for their trip down the Rio Grande, which they embarked on just this past January. Upon their return, I asked Wayne what his impressions of the new canoe material were and he replied with one word – phenomenal. He said the canoe endured many impacts in rapids and against canyon walls, all without showing any signs of problems. You can view images of this trip on their website and Facebook page.

It has been fascinating to watch the progression of this new material – from concept to real world use and abuse. My confidence in TuffStuff is as high as it has ever been for any Nova Craft product. It’s obvious that many other people in the industry feel the same way, as orders are flowing in at good pace. Like I said, it was the talk of the Paddlesport trade show circuit this weekend and I’m sure the conversations will only increase as time goes on and more paddlers experience the benefits of a TuffStuff canoe.

Nova Craft

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