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  • Alick Burt

Felix's Canoe the Rebuilding of a Genuine Antique

One of the most fascinating aspects of discovering old canoes is often the story that comes with them. This canoe came to me Via my good friend Nick Dennis of the WCHA.

As head of the UK chapter Nick is often asked about old and Antique Canoes and sometimes people ask him to look after a canoe they have owned but no longer have need of.

The thing is these canoes last very well if looked after and not neglected and in many ways it helps that they get used because often the worst thing that can happen to the wood is that it is allowed to dry out.

The point is we never really own these old canoes as they will be here long after we are gone instead we are custodians who look after them and hopefully get to paddle them until they are passed on to someone else to enjoy.

With this in mind the current custodian of this canoe wanted her to go to a good home and I was in the frame to become her new custodian.

The owner of the canoe was Jane Badcock the wife of Felix Badcock who it turned out was given the canoe in 1949 when he was 14 years old as a present for passing his exams.

At the time the family were living at Hedsor Wharf Cookham on the River Thames which he loved.

In time Felix went on to become a top class Oarsman, Rower and Coach Rowing for England in The Empire Games.

Nick arranged for us to go and collect the canoe at the weekend from Welford on Avon and we didn't know much about it like how old it was, who made it, or how it was constructed or even its size.

We met Jane and she took us to see it in an old piggery where it had been resting up off the ground (always a good idea) since 1984 when it was last used.

As we entered the bulding and looked at her I said “she looks massive could be a 20 footer!”

and it certainly looked that way in the gloom.

We carried her out into the light and began to look for any distinguishing marks like a makers nameplate and examined the construction.

We noticed the following:-

1.She is a woodstripper with planking running logitudinally.

2.The gunwales have no inwales ( a trait of Peterborough Canoes)

3.There was an importers plate on one end

4.There were a couple of loose plank bits of seat.

5.She was in very good condition with no major holes or plank repairs.

6.The thwarts had been cut and glued back in place which was unusual.

Jane explained that the canoe was always known as Felix's canoe and didn't have a name so we decided there and then that “Felix's Canoe” would become her name.

With that and the promise to send Jane pictures of her restoration and of her back on the water we loaded her onto Nicks car and went on our way.

and here she is having arrived safely at my workshop.

I think I counted 112 ribs !

I think I counted 112 ribs !

I think the decks might be butternut.

notice the contrasting colour of the strips.This is more prounced when she is cleaned.The dark one's are mahogany whilst he light ones are probably white cedar or butternut.

That's all for now but this blog will continue when I begin repairs.

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