Walter Latter - 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 decided to participate in it even though our paddling experience was minimal. There was a large turnout and it was good to be part of the event. But our lack of experience proved costly. As we paddled down river with the many canoes, we approached a narrow channel with a pile of logs on river left and one protruding out into the river a short distance. We attempted to avoid it, but the current took us right into it, damaging your bow. We were still able to carry on down river to the take out. But I was heartbroken to see the results, and there was no doubt in my mind Bill would be too, when, on the following day, a friend would return you to him for repairs. A real wake up call — more experience was required before attempting river paddling!
When I picked you up, Bill had done an expert repair job. Now I was about to embark on what was to be many years of pleasure, paddling on lakes and rivers. Paddling on the Cowichan River, where I then lived, was always enjoyable in the spring when the trillium and lilies were in bloom.
A three day camping trip on the North Thompson River with other canoeists was also a pleasant outing. I portaged you on the Bowron Lake circuit three times, enjoying that wonderful two week circuit and seeing much wildlife.
Carol and I took you on a two week trip to Haida Gwaii, along with Ralph in his kayak, paddling much of what was then called South Moresby. It was an amazing experience to have a Basking Shark come right along beside me as I sat in the stern. I could have reached out and touched its nose! Then it slowly moved forward to where Carol sat in the bow, its tail still back of the canoe.
And yes, you received some other dents and bangs, so in 1997 I loaded you up, along with my Old Town Kinnebec, and traveled back to Wilberforce, Ontario, to have some of your ribs and planking replaced before being recanvassed. I had the pleasure of working alongside Lee to complete the job, which gave me the feel for the process of creating this type of canoe.
Then I went canoeing in Algonquin Park with the Kinnebec, to allow the filler to cure before I began the return trip west with you all wrapped up in a tarp. Arriving back home I proceeded to paint you in your original blue.
In September 2015 I loaded you onto the pickup once again for another trip to Ontario. This time I would paddle you for the last time on George Lake in Killarney Provincial Park, before taking you to Peterborough to be placed in the hands of the Canadian Canoe Museum.
So, farewell old Greenwood friend. You carried me across many waterways and provided me with much pleasure. With the solitude and quietness of the paddle, we encountered much wildlife and saw many memorable sights.
I will miss you, but now it is time for you to make other people aware of Bill Greenwood’s truly outstanding craftsmanship."
-Sigurd F. Olson
"The movement of a canoe is like a reed in the wind. Silence is part of it, and the sounds of lapping water, bird songs, and wind in the trees. It is part of the medium through which it floats, the sky, the water, the shores.”
“A man is part of his canoe and therefore part of all it knows.”