|Punch Jackson and Jim King ponder the canoe|
During the recent 50th Trail reunion at Camp Stephens, Jim King asked me what I knew about the birch bark canoe hanging in Lount Lodge.
I told him what I thought I knew, and what Punch Jackson had told me a couple of years ago.
You can see my original post about the history of the canoe here.
King furrowed his brows. He's a man of few words even when he's talking, and said he wasn't so sure about what I had told him.
Little did I know.
A while later King cornered Jackson and said he wanted to talk about the canoe hanging in Lount Lodge.
He also wanted to see it. Up close. Les Robinson volunteered to get a ladder.
It took a few minutes, and King soon scampered up the ladder armed with my iPhone.
Here's the story.
In the late 1960s Jackson and Kirk Wipper (again, read the original blog) made a deal that the original birch bark canoe would find a home in the then fledgling Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterbrough, Ont.
In exchange, Camp Stephens would get another birch bark canoe and templates to make kayaks.
Enter Jim King. This was just before he took out the first six-week trip in 1969. More on that here.
King was dispatched to Ottawa to fetch the new canoe to bring back to Camp Stephens. He tied it to the roof of his parent's old car--he had inherited it--and drove back to Kenora.
It would eventually be hung in the dining hall when it stayed until it moved over to the lodge.
I always was thought the canoe was more of a decoration and was never meant to touch water.
Wrong. King says it was made to paddle.
A few people at camp even took it around the bay before it found its home in the dining hall.
King says the canoe he brought back from Ottawa had a special webbing that would allow it to be safely paddled.
To be sure the canoe in the lodge was that same canoe, King went up the ladder to see if it indeed had that webbing.
As you can see from the pictures he took, it does.
It's the same canoe.
While it's in relatively good shape for a hand-made canoe pushing 50, King says there's evidence insects have gotten inside of it. The canoe will need some type of protection so that it sees another 50 years.
King also says he remembered paying $150 to bring the canoe to camp.
What he couldn't remember is whether he submitted a receipt to the Y for reimbursement.
Camp never did get the kayak templates.