N ewly released book This Old Canoe: How To Restore Your Wood Canvas Canoe is designed to teach and aid those ready to undertake a restoration project. Mike Elliott, author and owner of Kettle River Canoes, guides readers with extreme detail from the assessment phase all the way to the finished, restored product. The book is intended to be used in the shop while work is underway.

Canoe Restoration: From hobby to business

In 1994, Elliott and a colleague who worked with at-risk-youth helped a group of boys construct epoxy and cedar canoes to take on a canoe trip. Over the years, canoe restoration grew into a passionate hobby until 2003 when Elliott began his business part-time in his basement. Today, Elliott has restored 180 canoes in 13 years and Kettle River Canoes is a full-time, stand-alone operation in Grand Forks, British Columbia.

The path to creating this book began organically as Elliott started blogging about canoe restoration and his shop work several years ago. The online interest in his area of expertise was so great he eventually began writing more specifically for a book.

He hopes his book will help to preserve the skill set required for restoring wood-canvas canoes, and says that those beginning the process should prepare for lots of mistakes and learning along the way.

Wood-canvas canoes as links to the past

Elliott’s favorite part of restoring canoes for clients is when they come in months after dropping it off to view the final product. In some cases the client is seeing their family canoe restored to the state it was in decades ago when they were a child, and this can be an emotional moment. “It really is about the people,” he says.

Elliott is promoting the book on tour from now until September.


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