It’s no accident that Bear Mountain canoes and kayaks look as appropriate in an art gallery as they do in the water.
For over three decades, we have worked hard to produce wooden watercraft that combine classic lines with the most advanced marine technologies. We firmly believe that anyone with basic woodworking tools and a desire to learn can create a Bear Mountain masterpiece. Our dedication to this ideal keeps us searching constantly for more effective teaching tools, simpler systems, user-friendly materials and creative new designs. We measure our success in the thousands of Bear Mountain canoes and kayaks that emerge from home workshops around the world each year.
We also take great pride in building National sprint racing canoes, prototypes for production designs, elegant one-off custom boats, and in restoring historically significant craft.
We first started building Bear Mountain canoes near Powassan, Ontario in 1977, in a log and stone workshop which we built ourselves on a high hill at the northwestern edge of Algonquin Park. We soon found that people were more interested in learning how to build their own canoes than buying a handcrafted one from us. Ted teamed up with neighbour and writer Merilyn Simonds (Mohr) to write CANOECRAFT which was released by Harrowsmith in 1983. Soon Canoecraft was purchased by Firefly Books and every year since then it has sold more than 10,000 copies all over the world thanks to Firefly – one of Canada’s most successful publishers. Many people say Canoecraft is the best book on the subject.
When we moved to Peterborough in 1995 Ted wrote KAYAKCRAFT, (published by Woodenboat Books 1999) and persuaded our daughter Jennifer to help him with the photographs.
Now Ted’s latest book KAYAKS YOU CAN BUILD, co-written with Greg Rossel (Firefly Books 2004) provides plywood builders with the tricks and skills to make an outstanding craft – it does what his other books have done for strip construction – it raises the bar! Kayaks You Can Build contains over 450 colour photos which Ted shot by himself while building three plywood kayak kits.
Our ongoing relationship with Canadian yacht designer Steve Killing has had a huge impact on the success of Bear Mountain. Steve not only creates dynamic hull shapes, he provides our customers with the knowledge and technical data to make informed choices. We know that many companies design their own hulls but we prefer to use a qualified designer who applies sound principals of yacht design for the safety of our customers.
On a personal note, the little girls who grew up playing with wood shavings and making little boats, continue to inspire us. Jennifer lives in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories where she works in communications for the government. She is also on the board of directors of Ecology North, a local environmental organization and spends as much time as possible exploring Great Slave Lake. This summer Joan, Ted, and crew built Jen a beautiful plywood rowboat. “Persephone” is a 16-foot Gloucester Light Dory, designed to take the waves of the Atlantic Ocean and has proved itself to be an ideal boat for the North as well.
Daisy worked for two years as a nurse at the hospital in Yellowknife and is now finishing second year of medical school in Ottawa. Daisy’s husband Adam Smith is working on his PhD in biology and has been the most wonderful addition to our family. He and Daisy and their dog Taiga manage to find time to paddle, ski. bike, hike and garden. This summer they will spend six weeks paddling the Elk and Thelon Rivers flying home out of Baker Lake, Nunavut just in time for school. Daisy and Adam are building themselves a Freedom 17 in our workshop this March.
Ted and I take continue to take some time out of the shop travelling to Belize to assist various boat building projects there. This winter we also helped out in Honduras at a community wood shop where Ted taught sharpening, tuned up the power tools and left behind some of his truco baratos.
Our new old workshop on Marchett Line is looking more like a studio than a work shop these days as we complete an extensive renovation which includes installing big windows overlooking the Otonabee River. Right now we are video taping the construction of the Magic kayak which Ted has stained a gorgeous crimson. Life continues to be full of exciting possibilities and enriching friendships.