The first step to get this project off the ground was to find a canoe. As I mentioned in the previous post, Tom had a very unique canoe (Chestnut Cruiser, probably) that is no longer manufactured. And he painted it himself with an odd concoction. Kijiji to the rescue. I spent about a week searching for a Chestnut cedar and canvas canoe online. I found quite a few, mostly in the range of $2000 – $5000. A little out of my budget. Then I came across this ad:
A little small to read here, but it says, “This Prospector Canoe by the Chestnut Canoe Company is the same make & model used by Group of Seven artist Tom Thompson.” There are 3 inaccuracies in that description, but let’s not be snobbish about it. This was THE canoe. It had to be. So early Sunday morning, I woke up Blake, packed him in a rented pickup truck, and headed to the Port Perry Yacht Club to meet the owner.
I think the members of the “Yacht Club” must have a good sense of humour. When we arrived, I had the sense of being in a trailer park on the edge of a marsh. No captain’s hats, white pants, blue blazers, or ascots here. We were greeted immediately by a rugged looking fellow who emerged from his trailer ready to give a crushing handshake. He went right for Blake.
“Hey Buddy, I’m your Uncle Kunkel!”
I knew right then that we had come to the right place. Todd Kunkel was the owner of the canoe, and a proud owner he was. I carefully explained the project to him, trying not to sound like too much of a fruitcake, and I assured him that the canoe would not be harmed in making of the project. We talked about Tom Thomson, and I told him about the research I had done on the identity of Tom’s canoe, based mostly on the fine work of canoe expert Mike Ormsby, who will appear often in this blog.
After a gentle round of haggling, I strapped the canoe to the roof with the help of a friendly neighbour named Nick. Then we hit the 401 for a harrowing journey back to Kitchener.
The next step, even more harrowing, is to paint the canoe. Let the paranoia begin.