In 1998, Dagger joined with Perception to form a much larger company called Watermark. Two years later, open boaters wept upon hearing the news that Dagger would cease production of its popular 15- and 16-foot Legend canoes. Now, after six years of twists and turns the Legend reappears—this time from Mad River Canoe. The new Mad River Legend is a dead ringer for the Dagger classic, except now it has a pipe-smoking bunny on the bow.

Mad River Legend 16 Specs
Length: 16’
Width: 35”
Depth: Midsection 14.5”; ends 17”
Rocker: 2”
Shape: Symmetrical, rounded flare ends, straight midsection
Weight: 76 lbs (IQ2); 70 lbs (wood)
Material: Royalex, red or green
 $1,329 USD / $1,549 CAD (IQ2)
$1,529 USD / $1,799 CAD (wood)

Through a chance encounter the Legend returns

In 2005, Watermark was acquired by Confluence Paddlesports, which had already snatched up Wilderness Systems, WaveSport and Mad River Canoe. Some time later, Mad River Canoe’s brand manager Buff Grubb was poking around in an off-site warehouse when he happened to uncover the old Dagger Legend moulds in storage. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine took me all the way back to a 1996 Dagger website that listed the Legend as the touring canoe rather than a whitewater craft. I believe they are much better suited for whitewater, and Mad River seems to agree. They ferried the Legend into the eddy once held by the Freedom 16, which is essentially a slightly modified Explorer passed off as a whitewater canoe.

Tripping in the Legend 16

I learned to paddle in a Legend back in the day, in fact I passed my whitewater instructor exam in it, paddling both tandem and solo. Getting back in the Legend this spring I quickly realized why I had such fond memories and why it was so popular.

The Legend 16 is right at home on my home river, the Madawaska. The Madawaska is a canoe classic class II-III drop pool that you can park-and-play, day trip or stretch the different sections out into weekend adventures. The Mad River Legend’s blunt ends and moderate rocker make it dry for running and surfing. It turns pretty well, tracks enough for the little flatwater on the river and has plenty of freeboard for anything but extended northern trips. The Legend 16 is my favourite tripping boat to surf solo and I can imagine the 15 is even more fun.

New release has high fidelity

Mad River has been true to the original design, changing only the trimmings. The Legends are available with ash gunwales or with IQ2, now Mad River’s standard vinyl gunwale. IQ2, if you haven’t checked this out yet, is essentially channels on the inwales and outwales in which you slide accessories like spray covers, seats, foot braces, yokes and storage bins. Cool idea. Time will tell, however, how the gunwale channels will hold up to the bumping and grinding of river tripping—we lost our coveted cup holder on the first swim to shore.

More in store from Mad River

The Mad River Legend is not their only model making waves. This summer, Mad River rocked the whitewater canoe world by reintroducing the 14-foot Caption, the tandem play boat and recreational slalom racing favourite. This had us wondering what else was mothballed in that secret warehouse, so we asked Grubb if we should expect to see the dust blown off any of the other Dagger moulds at an upcoming paddling industry trade show.

“We don’t have all the moulds, but there are still two or three that merit serious consideration. We are evaluating a couple of Dagger models and will make a final decision by the end of the month.”

This article was first published in the Summer 2007 issue of Rapid Magazine. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.


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