This is an original Chestnut canoe, named after the designer who crafted one of the world’s first durable “lightweight” canoes.
In a quirky bit of canoeing lore, it was someone named Bob who designed the boat, so “Bob’s Special” became the model name. But no one seems to know who Bob is so it’s impossible to trace the lineage of this fine craft. All I’ve ever known since childhood is that “Bob’s Special” is one of the fastest solo canoes around.
It was built in 1970 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and it became one of the most popular canoes the company made. First and foremost it was designed for fishermen and solo-trippers. It’s still a joy to solo in.
Copyright © Kevin Teichroeb.
At the time it was the cutting edge for lightweight canoes, designed to weigh only 50 lbs, measuring 15′ in length and still able to carry upwards of 700 lbs.
Our Bob’s Special moved to Ontario when my father bought it new, and then on to Vancouver when he drove it out here for me to have several years ago. If I stretch the point a bit, I can say that this canoe has been to all three Canadian oceans: the Atlantic, where it was built, the Arctic, where we took it all the way down the Lake Superior watershed to James Bay, and to the Pacific, only minutes from where it sits in our garage now.
It’s a little worse for wear these days, but it still raises eyebrows when it’s taken off the roof of the car and set down in the water. The design beauty of a traditional cedar-canvas canoe definitely still holds some attraction on a quiet, early morning paddle along the upper reaches of Indian Arm, BC.