Walter Latter wrote, “Farewell to my Greenwood Prospector Canoe
I picked you up from Bill on July 26th 1974, and what a happy person was I to have a beautiful Greenwood canvas canoe in my possession. Oh you are a masterpiece!
On July 27th 1974 a canoe demonstration on the Skagit River was organized to protest the flooding back into BC from the raising of a dam in Washington State. A friend and I decidedto participate in it even though our paddling experience was minimal..."
A gallery of Greenwoods.
Dennis Marshall wrote, “I am the proud owner of one of your dad’s canoes. I bought it at a garage sale from Don Harrison, here on Saltspring Island. He is a big man, a hunter who would head into northern B.C. with one or two others from our local rod and gun club, with this 1951 canoe, which he proudly informed me would easily carry half a moose and two paddlers..."
Over the years, I have been particularly inspired by the following individuals, who have encouraged me to document the Greenwood Canoe Company.
Liz Prosch, owner of a 16’ Greenwood Prospector – “We purchased our Greenwood canoe in the summer of 1973. We remember that when we went to the workshop, we had an opportunity to look around a little and Bill Greenwood was working on a canoe. He was attaching canvas with tacks and he had a mouth full of the tacks he was using. We were hesitant to engage him in too much conversation for fear he might choke on a tack!"
David & Penny Thompson, former owners of a clinker-built Greenwood rowboat – “…It was given to us to be used more or less as a planter. It was solid, but needed lots of TLC. We have restored it and are really enjoying “Joan” (the name was on the boat when we got it!) She rows like a dream. You will note we have an outboard motor on “Joan”. This is a 1934 Elto Ace Evinrude (which we also restored)…”
Paul Dampier, owner of a 15’ Greenwood Standard, 16’ Greenwood Standard, and an 18’ Greenwood Prospector – “… I found the receipt for the last canoe your dad made. He in fact had sold it to another fellow, but this person, for whatever reason, cancelled the order once the canoe was built. My wife, Judi, knowing how much I wanted this canoe, then gave it to me as a wedding present...”
Greg and Suzanne Brown, owners of a 17’ Greenwood Sportsman's model canoe built in 1967 for Camp Deka Boys camp, wrote in 1994 – “…We have had a ‘love affair’ with our Greenwood for many years, as it is our treasured possession and has enabled us to travel about 10,000 km on the rivers, lakes, and oceans of Canada.
David J. Huntley – “In 1965 we moved back to B.C. after absences in England and in Deep River, Ontario. My father-in-law, Art Stott, a well known newspaperman of Victoria, gave us his old Peterborough canoe. This was made of wood only and had gaping holes between the planks. I gave it a coat of fibreglass and we had a serviceable canoe..."
Ken Barry, owner of a 13’ Greenwood canoe – “… I love my Greenwood canoe. Made in Vancouver in the 70's by a very old, crippled on one side Mr Greenwood. He was very actively working on new canoes with one arm and one leg partially stroke impaired. It did not impair his generosity or enthusiasm. We got a tour of his really interesting shop on the banks of the Fraser in the shadow of the mill…"
The Weaver family – “We think our canoe is fabulous – glides like silk over the water. Other campers called out ‘is that a Greenwood?’”
Jim Kinzel, Greenwood Canoe Company employee 1969-1971 and owner of an 18’ Greenwood Prospector – “I bought an 18’ Prospector from him in 1969 for $425, paddled it for a summer, and that fall, with no experience or tools, signed on for $1.50 an hour… There were 3 of us, Bill, George Fletcher, and me. We averaged 80 canoes a year built in batches of 6 (about 70 to 80 man hours a boat)..."
Ryan Lake, owner of a 16’ Greenwood Prospector – “…I had the privilege of talking with Bill Greenwood at a YMCA sponsored canoeing course. There wasn’t much that man didn’t know about canoe building. He spoke emphatically about the importance of “tumblehome” for seaworthiness. Seaworthiness was tested beyond any reasonable expectation in my canoe, (named) Gently..."
I have also been fortunate to have heard from many Greenwood owners and non-owners alike. They have kindly shared with me their memories, love of Greenwood watercraft, and personal interactions with my dad. Here are some of their stories:
The movie featured below was found in my mom's cedar chest. We don't know much about it, other than it was filmed on the Bowron Lakes. Our guess is it was made some time in the late 1960s.
Terry Slack, director of the Fraser River Coalition and the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society, wrote - "It was boat moving day from mom’s garage on 28th Ave., and this piece of Dunbar, Southlands marine river history had to go somewhere, but where? She was not water tight and her repairs were not finished, so into my truck she went! ..."
© Susan Greenwood