Rossland’s book store hosted a talk and book signing on Saturday, featuring the author of a book about how to restore wood-canvas canoes.
Mike Elliott, who lives in Grand Forks, recently released This Old Canoe: How to Restore Your Wood-Canvas Canoe and gave a talk at New Edition Café and Books about canoes and the Canadian identity before signing a few copies.
Elliott has been restoring old canoes for the past 20 years, and opened a small business restoring them for others in 2003. Since then he has restored 180 canoes.
The first canoe he ever restored was the same make and model that his dad first taught him to canoe in.
“It was quite a coincidence,” said Elliott. “I was restoring this thing — it was about 40 years old — and these memories came flooding back to me of paddling these canoes when I was six years old and it turns out that it was exactly the same make and model of canoe.”
He ended up in possession of that first canoe because he was working as an outreach worker with youth and did a project with a group of boys where they built canoes before heading off on a canoe trip. After that he became known as “the canoe guy” and a man in town gave him an old wood-canvas canoe in need of repair. It has since become Elliott’s family canoe.
He said that he doesn’t restore canoes, but rather the relationship people have with them.
“People who own these canoes will not part with these canoes; they’re part of the family. They’d sooner part with their kids than part with the canoe, and that’s what really drives the business, this family connection, the stories, the memories all wrapped up in the canoe,” he said.
The book features not only how to’s, but also some of the stories behind the canoes that Elliott has worked on, like the canoe he restored so the client’s daughter could paddle it on her wedding day. He will be continuing to tour the book later this month, traveling to upstate New York for a wooden canoe festival and making stops along the way.