This article appeared in the June 1997 Issue of "Wooden Canoe", the journal of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association. The cover picture shows Ned and Ken with their canoe upside down over their heads on a portage. The article was republished in August 2000 as one of the best of the first 100 issues of the magazine.
GRANDFATHER'S COLLEGIATE CANOE TRIP
By Adam W. Tury
Once upon a time (the summer of 1948 actually) four college guys went on a canoe trip to Western Ontario. Two were veterans (war veterans not canoe trip veterans) and two were not. I shall call these collegiate voyageurs Ken, Ned, John, and Jim.
Ken and Ned puchased an eighteen-foot guide model Penn Yan wood and canvas canoe from a war surplus store specifically for the trip and sold it back to the same store afterwards.* They were both of rather slight stature and quite inexperienced.
Jim and John, the veterans, had their family's eighteen-foot Old Town Otca which had been built in 1921. The Otca had spent most of its previous career on a local lake, which was surrounded by summer cottages and big-band dance pavillions, and where the only wild things were the Saturday night parties. Jim and John were well over six feet tall and had considerable paddling experience.
It turned out to be an even match. The Penn Yan had a low bow and stern and was sleek and light in weight. The Otca had the classic high ends and was heavy with many layers of paint and varnish. Thus the two smaller, inexperienced canoeists in their fast Penn Yan kept right up with the two larger, stronger, more experinced paddlers in their heavy wind-bucker. Actually the Penn Yan traveled more miles than the Old Town because Ken didn't believe in the J-stroke. He insisted on switching sides to steer when he was in the stern, a practice which resulted in a lot of zigging and zagging by the Penn Yan.
* That was Woodruff''s War Surplus in Watervliet. I don't who Dad sold it to next, but I wish we would have kept it.
The Wisconsin River flows 430 miles across the state from Lac Vieux Desert in northern Wisconsin to its junction with the Mississippi River ar Wyalusing State Park in southwestern Wisconsin. Known as "the nation's hardest working river," it has many power dams and resevoirs, mainly on its upper and middle portions along the lower stretch with beautiful scenery and numerous islands.