In 1975, while living in Ottawa, Benjamin purchased a Northland Hunter Special, clear, cedar strip canoe directly from Albert Maw's canoe shop on Highway 60, just north-east of Huntsville, Ontario. Since 1975, Benjamin has used the canoe on the Lake of Bays and Skeleton Lake in Muskoka, and on the Gatineau and Rideau Rivers near Ottawa.
The canoe often received complements about its unique, wide, two-tone, cedar strip design. The 15-foot canoe weighs 55 pounds and has a beam of 35 inches.
Benjamin joined the Trent Severn Antique and Classic Boat Association (TSACBA) to learn more about canoe design. One function or form design question is --- Does the long, light-coloured, strip of cedar shape the canoe for better stability or is it just for good looks?
Northland Canoes Started in Muskoka
The Northland Canoes and Boats company started out sometime in the mid 1940s on Highway 60, a half mile from the junction of Highway 11B on the way to Algonquin Park, north-east of Huntsville. Albert B. Maw, the present owner, started as an employee with the company in 1956 and he purchased the company in 1964. At one time the company produced up to 200 canoes a year with a lineup of eight different models.
In 1995, a fire destroyed the company shop and most of its assets. In 2010, Northland Canoes was still in business, although only as a one-person shop doing mostly repairs, and now located in Novar, off Highway 11 just north of Huntsville.
According to the 1974 brochure pictured at right, the canoes built by Northland are truly handcrafted, and come in the colour of your choice and also clear to show the B.C. cedar in its natural colour.
The Northland has such outstanding features as Black Cherry wood used exclusively for gunwales, thwarts, seats, and decks. The seats are filled with rawhide giving it a real pioneer look.
Using the fibreglass covering instead of canvas, offers many advantages, such as lightness, being as much as 8 to 10 pounds lighter than the conventional canvas canoe. It does not pick up weight, and of course the fibreglass will not rot. Repairs are comparatively simple and permanent. The inside of these canoes are finished with three coats of clear varnish.
The Northland canoes offer the best in appearance, strength and stability, and are a source of real canoeing enjoyment for many years.
Benjamin’s Canoe Returns to Muskoka
In 2012, Benjamin and his canoe moved to the Legends at the Falls condos in Bracebridge on the Muskoka River, overlooking the former location of the famous wooden boat works of John Dunn, Bert Minett and Bryson Shields.
On July 7, 2012, Benjamin displayed his Northland canoe at the Antique and Classic Boat Society (ACBS) show in Gravenhurst.