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Wood-Canvas Canoe: Build Your Own

Course Overview

Poetry on the water – wood-canvas canoes are the classic boats of the North Woods. In this course you will be immersed in the full process of building your own canoe from steam-bending her ribs to stretching and filling her canvas. Participants generally build the 17’6” Atkinson Traveler, but the 16'6" Otter or Lutre models are possibilities as well. Canoes are built, canvassed, and filled during the class and then taken home, painted, and varnished—and will provide many years of pleasure on the water. Many hands make work light, and students should plan to bring a partner (or two!) to help…this can be a great family project that will result in a lifetime of memories.

Developed in the 1870s with a design based upon the birch bark canoe, wood-canvas canoes feature wide flexible ribs and thin planking covered with a waterproof layer. Built on forms for uniform shape, they soon became the canoe of choice for backcountry travel.  Many people today feel that paddling a hand-built wood-canvas canoe, beautiful and quiet on the water, is the only way to travel on wilderness waterways. Due to the large nature of this project, students must bring a partner to help, making it a  great family project. The course offers an intriguing opportunity to develop a solid base of woodworking skills while crafting an elegant and inspiring traditional watercraft. Customizing the canoe is an option, however, some additional costs will apply. This does not include the cost of paint and varnish, though sources for these materials and instruction for how to do this will be covered in the class. Separate tuition payment and cancellation policies apply to this course. Materials fee will be due 3 weeks prior to the course beginning.

Note, this course is only offered every 2-3 years.


Mon, Apr 8th, 2019  –  Sun, Apr 21st, 2019

Course Details

Length: 14 Days
Skill Levels: Beginner to Advanced
Hours: 9am-5pm
Intergenerational age: 14+
Registration Cost: $2,750.00
Additional materials fee paid to instructor when class starts: Varies ($2,000-$3,000)

Required Tools

You will need the following tools for this class:

  • dust mask*
  • eye/ear protection*
  • small hammer
  • utility knife
  • * available for purchase @ North House School Store 888-387-9762

Optional Tools

  • tack puller
  • favorite hand tools/small planes
  • clinching iron (available from Rollin Thurlow at the Northwoods Canoe Company in Maine, online)
  • hand/power/electric screwdrivers
  • 1/2 sheet orbital

More Information

Once registered, students will receive a confirmation email with further class information. Please call us if you haven't received it within 24 hours.