The first canoe you ever PADDLED and the circumstances

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Actually paddled? Tandem or solo either a Grumman or a Montgomery Wards Sea King 15. My father was fond of Monkey Ward’s Sea Kings for WW paddling. Pre-river guidebooks he went through a series of Grummans and Sea Kings as he pinned them, wrapped them and beat them to death paddling streams that he, and sometimes we, knew nothing more about than two nicely spaced bridges on an Esso map.

I don’t know who made the Sea Kings for Wards, but they were built like tanks. My dad bought a lot of stuff from Wards for one of his side businesses; I expect those Sea Kings were taken off his taxes as “business expense”; a Grumman might appear suspicious.

First memories as a non-paddler passenger in a canoe was in my grandfather’s WC canoe at his home on Lake Champlain. I don’t remember much about that canoe. I do remember that I dropped a bar of soap overboard, and it wasn’t Ivory, it sunk straight to the bottom. I’ve been disappointing my parents ever since.

 
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Back in the early 40's up in Newfound Lake NH. My uncle had a cottage, and we would spend a week there.
He had a big old wood and canvas one and a 12 foot row boat with a 2 hp motor on it. Everyone always wanted to be in the motor boat so I could always have use of the canoe. Aunt Mary would always warn me to stay in sight and never go down to the marsh at the end of their bay. Naturally that is where I would always head, since that is where all the frogs and newts were, and naturally I would always get a scolding when I got back

JackL
 
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Hey Jack L glad to see you here! I take it you and Nanci are still paddling!
Thank you
Not paddling right now. Last week end would have been our 14th Adirondack 90 miler and man did we ever miss it.!
I am in the process of battling prostate cancer that has metastasized to my bones.
According to the doctors, in six months I should be back to doing every thing I always did, but they are beating the hell out of me right now.
I am the weakest I have ever been in my life. - (all kinds of side infections that I won't go into)
This morning I tried picking the kevlar Jensen 17 tandem over my head with me at one end and Nanci at the other and it about killed me.
Hope to get out in it in Lake James next week or the following week for some lilly dippng

Jack
 
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Thank you
Not paddling right now. Last week end would have been our 14th Adirondack 90 miler and man did we ever miss it.!
I am in the process of battling prostate cancer that has metastasized to my bones.
According to the doctors, in six months I should be back to doing every thing I always did, but they are beating the hell out of me right now.
I am the weakest I have ever been in my life. - (all kinds of side infections that I won't go into)
This morning I tried picking the kevlar Jensen 17 tandem over my head with me at one end and Nanci at the other and it about killed me.
Hope to get out in it in Lake James next week or the following week for some lilly dippng

Jack
Oh crap. I have had cancer and chemo and while I might have felt like you, of course I don't know. I remember taking three steps and having to sit down. I was pretty down and mentioned to my doc I wanted to give up. He said " I am trying to almost kill you to get that cancer; it's ok to feel weak". The message was it's ok to not be strong. Sure enough two months post chemo we were back at it paddling in FL. May your journey be the same. SIx months post chemo I did a Little Tupper Lake and Round Pond solo.
We are here for you.
 
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Never met you Jack, but loved reading your reports. Stay strong and kick the hell out of that damned disease!!! I want more Jack and Nancy paddling adventures to read and be inspired by!!
 
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Boy Scout Camp OhDaKoTa in Wisconsin 1959 or 1960. The canoe was one of their fleet of 1929 Old Towns purchased when the camp opened that summer. I was a camper there each summer until 1963 when I became camp counselor which I was again in 1964. After a hitch in the Navy I spent the summer of 1970 on the camp staff again. Pleasant memories - I especially enjoyed taking a canoe out on the lake after supper and smoking a cigar while the sun set. Later that fall the camp director called to offer me first choice of one of the Old Town canoes the council had decided to sell. Being a poor student I declined the offer. I have regretted not buying one ever since.
 
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I grew up on a small lake in northern lower Michigan, we had an aluminum canoe. Maybe an 80’s Osage or Grumman….. or neither.. it was a small inland lake with great fishing and wildlife (at that time, new homes have taken over). I used to love going in that and pretending I was a fur trader cruising around with my fishing pole. I’d go over to the far corner, lookers right from my yard. There was a small creek, lots of turtles, tall grass, and a pair of swans. I’d get out and bushwhack, sometimes actually whacking bushes, and have this massive field to myself. It’s now…. Yep… big homes. I’d paddle over there and set up my tent or paddle around and sleep in my backyard after a long day of exploring.

My mom had this wooden train whistle, if it was getting too late, she’d whistle with that to wrangle me in. Or she knew I was on the other side. I’d also paddle that canoe across the lake to friends houses and paddle back. It was like having a car before knowing what that was like.

As kids, we’d tip it over and get back in. We’d flip it over and have a large pocket of air underneath it. It was a great boat. I never picked up any real techniques other than feeling comfortable maneuvering in it. And it wasn’t until later in life that I did my first long haul in a canoe. Now I’m hooked, with four canoes in my back yard, one is a project, and several paddles and gear to help me retrace real fur trading routes or my own.
 
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I started when my fishing buddy purchased one of those Coleman Ram X canoes. The ones with the metal pipe along the keel and the butt killing hard plastic bench seats. I could break wind and see the soft bottom of that thing oil can. I've always been around boats of all kinds except canoes. I think I was in my late thirties. We put in right below, Norris lake dam, a large hydroelectric dam. We were trout fishing and taking out 12? Miles or so down stream. I knew how to paddle, some what, well I understood the mechanics of it. All was fine except the constant wiggling motion, then my rear end started to burn and itch, bad! We still had another 10 hours before the take out. I was so sore and relieved when I got out of that thing. I swore right then and there I'd never get in one again.

Two years later I bought one just like it from Walmart. Yep metal pole, butt killing plastic seats and oil canning soft bottom. Learned a lot from that canoe. Now I've a Mad River, Mowhawk and my wood stripper. Love it. One of these days I'll get way north of Tn to check out you alls beautiful lakes.
Roy
 
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I would have been 8 years old at the YMCA Camp Douglass somewhere in central Michigan, 1970, on a lake of course, with a wooden dock and frogs to chase. The boat was an aluminum Grumman, no idea how long it was. Situation was a race .... first time ever for me in a canoe, and I was racing, along with an Elementary School friend, we were from Oak Park, Illinois. He was big and strong, I wasn't, but I was damned determined and had a knack for it. Somehow we figured to put him in the bow where he just flat out motored along, and I was in the stern trying to keep her on course an add some thrust whenever I could. We won, toasted all our contemporaries and all those a year or two ahead of us. Been paddling ever since.

Monel
 
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17' Grumman, beginning at about age 13 with my Boy Scout troop in Wayne, PA. Our Scoutmaster, a young bachelor and former Senior Patrol Leader of our troop, and who in 1961 had finished his Army tour in Germany, returned to take over the reins of an already adventurous 50 year old troop. https://paoli1.org He infused me and my contemporaries with a passion for the outdoors, and in particular hiking, camping, canoeing, rock climbing/mountaineering. I've retained my interest in all these things all these years later.

Our troop had a fleet of Grummans, at least 6 of them, and a 6-place trailer for them all. My first long trip was paddling the Allagash Waterway in 1966. Been hooked on tripping, and white water canoeing as well since then.
 
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I was probably 13 or 14 when our church youth group decided to do a weekend float of the Current River in Missouri. That became my first experience paddling a canoe; in a rented, square-sterned aluminum tank of a boat. Since my partner and I had the largest canoe we were tasked with carrying the coolers. That also meant we grounded out on all the shallow spots everyone else floated through. No one knew what they were doing, so the weekend was a series of comedic failures. I still remember those first experiences, though, of getting that big, "ungainly" canoe to move where I wanted with nothing more than a slight movement of the paddle. More than fifty years , and several canoes of my own, later I still live for the moments when my canoe levitates to a new direction, like it read my mind.
 
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I think my first paddling experience, as opposed to passenger time, must have been with my Uncle Doug in an aluminum tandem on Lake George in the 80s. Our family would historically stay at Silver Bay YMCA on Lake George in upstate NY for one or two weeks in the summer. They had sailboats and canoes you could check out if you’d taken their training. So with me in the bow and my uncle in stern, we paddled from Silver Bay to O’dell Island, and probably Little O’dell too. Lake George is no joke, it’s long and skinny and makes big waves. I think about that when I read trip reports through places like the Barrens and read about trials with the wind.
 
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The first canoe I remember paddling looked like this.

View attachment 127166

A neighbour had bought a brand spanking new Sportspal complete with fake birch bark paint job and foam sponsons. They ask/told me to haul it down to a nearby lake a mile away to test it out. My paddling partner would be their daughter. It was not the first time I had a sneaking suspicion they were playing matchmaker but canoeing for the day was too hard to pass up, and she was lovely company, so off we went. We were both in our early teens, young and fit. Despite that, or maybe because of it, that canoe felt impossibly heavy on the long portage thru fields and down to the lake. The lake in question was pleasant, having been made by a farmer who in the 50's decided to build an earthen dam to flood a winding creek through several acres of woodlot. He then had set up a seasonal RV park complete with concessions, full facilities, canoe rentals, and a sand beach. Although smack dab in the middle of southern Ontario farm country it was easy to forget that most days, what with a bottle of coke and a small fries laying on the beach looking down the lake. But on this day we were strictly canoeing. We explored shoreline and ventured up a winding creek before eventually turning for home. It was a first fun day of paddling leading to many more.
So did you marry that girl?
 
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In post #8 I showed this canoe in 1955 with me in the bow as a 7 year old with my 2 older brothers. Fast forward to 1967. My last trip to Cobden, Ontario for a while, I had just volunteered for the draft and made a bee line for Canada to see a few old friends before I got called.
My boyhood friend, Paul, a young fatherless lad from Ottawa who spent his summers working on a local farm took this picture. We paddled the old Plycraft down Muskrat Lake with a bunch of Molsoms, made a fire, cooked some beans and franks.
Shortly after I was on my way to Vietnam, Paul joined the RCMP and had a storied career, Musical Ride, etc. He’s still my oldest friend, canoes do that.
F4F31ABB-CFD5-48D5-9D1A-C6E8A4353F18.jpeg
 
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So did you marry that girl?
Ha. Nope. That was never going to happen. But the day paddle was a mini adventure. That same lake was a splendiferous skating extravaganza when the winter conditions were just right. And the surrounding snowclad hills made for excellent moonlit tobogganing for my girl and I. (The girl I married.) That lake became a golf course; the beach, the juke box, dance hall and picnic tables are but a memory. So too my 1st paddling partner; she has long since chased a clothing career in California. My winter girl became my paddling partner for life, she's busily baking here in the kitchen as I peck at the computer.
 
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1961 in a 15 foot Grumman with the Boy Scouts.
Church camp merit badge in a similar boat the next year.
 
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My introduction to paddling was in old wood and canvas canoes at Rucker Lake Girl Scout Camp in the Sierras in 1966. Don't know if the camp canoes were Old Towns or something else. They were rather beat up and many leaked a bit, but I was happy to be out on the water.
 
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