Nature Matters: Canoe Building Class Recreates Voyageur Era

By KBJR News 1

March 5, 2013 Updated Mar 5, 2013 at 10:30 AM CDT

Boulder Lake, MN (NNCNOW.com)
Alex Comb runs the Stewart River Boatworks on the North Shore and has been building canoes for 33 years.
He learned some of his skills from legendary Ely canoe builder Joe Seliga.
At first, Seliga wasn't happy about having competition in the wood and canvas canoe business.

"After I'd been doing it for five or six years, I think he realized he wasn't going to get rid of me." said Comb.

Comb and Seliga did eventually become friends.
Now, it's Comb's turn to share knowledge of canoe building.
This week, he's leading a class at the Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center north of Duluth.

"We're focused on getting people more aware of the natural resources around them and what they can be used for." said John Geissler of Boulder Lake ELC.

In Comb's class, students learn cedar, ash and canvas can be used to make a 24 foot Voyageur style canoe.
It will be used by Boulder Lake ELC to teach students about nature by paddling them right into it.
Comb says the students who are building the craft are doing a good job of making her seaworthy.

"This is a good group. They came with skills and they're really eager. People are smiling and so far, happy." said Comb.

"Right now, Boulder Lake is a little too solid to actually try the canoe on when it gets done here in the next few days but eventually the ice will melt and this canoe will be put into use by students."

John Geissler of the Learning Center tells us we don't have to wait until spring to enjoy the facility.
There are other things to do while waiting for the ice to melt.

"Come and join us. We have great ski trails, campsites, classes all the time so come and join us here." said Geissler

On Boulder Lake, Dave Anderson, KBJR 6 and Range 11.

Frost River Pack Company in Duluth is one of the sponsors of the build.
It is estimated that the 24 foot Voyageur canoe will be done in ten days.
At four feet wide, let's hope they can get it through the workshop door when spring comes.