A passion for making beautiful canoes

BANCROFT – “I built my first canoe in Grade 6.”

That’s what Will Ruch said when asked about his career making beautiful cedar canvas canoes at his home on Musclow Greenview Road, Bancroft.

That first canoe building experience changed Ruch’s life. It also saved him from his regular classes. In the seventies, the school in Port Carling that Ruch attended was designed around the open classroom concept. There were 74 children and two teachers in the classroom.

“It was wild. I’m dyslexic and had trouble with the noise and couldn’t concentrate.”

The instructor running the canoe program would fetch Ruch from his class. Ruch enjoyed working with wood and had the advantage that both his parents earned their living as artists carving birds from wood, and had learned some skills at home.

In fact, when he first started to earn his own living, Ruch was also a bird carver, but it never really held his interest. He tried other things, working for a log builder, a furniture maker and a contractor.

It was canoeing, though, that held his fascination.

“I just liked canoes. There is something fascinating about them. Their form and design is so old and yet they work so perfectly. They don’t need gasoline. They don’t need electricity.”

Canoes, especially cedar canvass canoes, hold a special place in Ruch’s heart.

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