Lake fishing,    Travel,    Underground's Best,    Writing

The Grand Lake Canoe: An Essay with Images

Posted by Tom Chandler 9/8/2006 5 minutes

The Grand Lake Canoe still plys the waters of Grand Lake almost a century after its invention. Is there a better way to travel?


Grand Lake Canoe doing what it's designed to do
The Grand Lake Canoe doing what it does best...

Spend any time peering down driveways around the tiny town of Grand Lake Stream, and you'll notice almost as many boats on trailers as cars, and that most of those boats are long, broad-beamed wooden canoes with an upswept bow.

But don't make the mistake of simply calling it a canoe. You're almost certainly looking at a Grand Lake Canoe (a "Grand Laker" if you're into Maine guide slang), and suggesting that its roots run deep around the tiny town of Grand Lake Stream is to underestimate its connection to the area; the Grand Laker has big chunks of Grand Lake DNA directly wired into its genetic code.

The Guide's Choice

Typically powered by a 9hp motor, it's a craft that's perfectly suited to guiding the lakes in the area, where the wind often blows and a lot of water needs to be covered, sometimes in a pretty mean chop.

Grand Lake Canoe looks graceful even at rest

Like most great tools, it's a deceptively workable design, and while newer, high-tech boats might cover more water, there's something irresistible about a wood canoe that's so perfectly suited to its environment that it's named for the lake upon which you're currently fishing.

It even reflects Mainer frugality by fishing for several days on one small tank of gas.

And – unlike bigger boats – a Grand Lake canoe can successfully navigate the boulder-strewn shallows of the local lakes - where submerged boulders the size of houses rise eerily from the depths, often topping out at a keel-scraping inches from the surface.

(Watching a guide casually thread the big, broad-beamed canoe through a slot no wider than the boat itself is breathtaking stuff.)

Grand Lake Canoe

In addition to negotiating boulder-strewn shallows, it also trailers well, launches easily on unimproved boat ramps, and moves a guide and a couple clients at surprising speeds despite the use of small-displacement motors.

It's tempting to say that fly fishing from a Grand Laker is like a trip back in time, but that statement belies the sheer fishability of the craft. Like Western drift boats, it's not still used because a bunch of backward locals can't give it up, but because it does the job it was intended to – in most cases better than anything that's come after it.

Nearly a Century of History

The first Grand Lake canoes were built just prior to the 1920s, and because there were no outboard motors, they were "double-enders" which were paddled by guides.

With the advent of the outboard motor came the square stern, and in the 1950s, the Grand Lake canoe underwent its final incarnation: the stern was strengthened (to accommodate bigger motors) and a fiberglass skin replaced the canvas exterior.

Grand Lake Canoe bow

The result is a 20' canoe that handles superbly, even with a guide, two clients, and a lot of gear. And despite their light weight, Grand Lake canoes are famous for their longevity.

It's common to learn you're sitting in a canoe that's several decades old (last visit out I enjoyed the singular experience of fishing from a Grand Laker that was almost as old as I am, and one of the canoes in these pictures was built 30+ years ago).

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The reliability of the Grand Laker is so deeply ingrained into the local zeitgeist that when an aluminum skiff flipped a couple years ago (it was late Fall, and a man and his son were lucky to be seen and rescued before hypothermia set in), a couple of locals sniffed that it "wouldn't have happened in a Grand Laker."

True or not, it's a measure of the faith the locals have in the craft – and these are people who are on the big lakes when sudden, violent storms whip up some sizable waves, and get home to tell of it.

Grand Lake Canoe interior

Clearly, Grand Lake canoe seems at home here because it is – and the same can be said for the guides who pilot them. You could say that they're deeply sunk into the traditions of the area, but again, that's an unnecessarily nostalgic view - unless your view of "fishing" necessarily means warp-drive boats, footlocker-sized tackle boxes, and a lot of yelling and screaming every time you land a fish.

Grand Lake Stream canoe overview

Instead, the Registered Maine Guides – and their Grand Lakers - still do things pretty much the way they were done 50 years ago because nobody's invented a better way to do it.

Grand Lake Canoe closing image

Grand Lake Canoe, Grand Lake Stream, Maine
Destinations
Cotter, Arkansas heralds itself as the trout capital of the USA. Nine states including Vermont, NY, NC, PA, and NH, have declared the brook trout as their state fish. And, some folks ... moreup north have crowned brookies the Provincial Fish of Nova Scotia. But ask anyone in Rangeley and they’ll unabashedly tell you that their little town in Maine is the undisputed brook trout capital of America.

No doubt, Rangeley is steeped in fly fishing history. An 1877, 15-page article about the Rangeley region published by Harper’s New Monthly Magazine attracted huge publicity, encouraging railroads to expand and tourists to arrive in large numbers. By 1900 there were already over 200 fishing guides in the watershed. Wealthy anglers acquired land and established homes and private camps, a tradition that to some extent has not been broken. Famous guides like Herbie Welch drew tourists, including former President, Herbert Hoover. During the late 1920s and 1930s large hotels were built and many guests brought their own chefs and staff. It was the “Golden Age” of Rangeley.

Other notables include Carrie Stevens. Born before the turn of the 20th century, she became a milliner before working with her husband/guide throughout the early 1900s from her camp on Mooselookmeguntic Lake. She studied the fish and the waters around Rangeley and applied her millinery skills to developing flies that soon became famous – the Blue Charm, Gray Ghost and Golden Witch to name a few. Still in use today, Steven’s flies and appearances on the cover of Field and Stream helped secure Rangeley’s stature as a premier fly fishing destination.

Today Rangeley is much lower key but the tradition of private camps and limited access still persists on sections of its neighboring lakes and rivers. However, guests arriving now have a wide range of lodging options, from luxury living to tent camping. Restaurants are plentiful, the town calendar of events is full and there is a wide range of activities for anyone coming along that doesn’t care to fish. Opportunities for outdoor sports such as boating and biking are nearly unlimited, while hikers can easily find their way to the Appalachian Trail. Winter skiing remains popular with many ski-runs named after legendary river guides and flies.

There are many options for traveling to Rangeley, including:

Fly to Bangor International Airport and drive for approximately 2 ½ hours

Fly to Portland International Jetport and drive for approximately 2 ½ hours

Drive from Boston, approximately 4 hours

Drive from Manchester, less than 4 hours
Fishing Waters
Like other rivers in the Rangeley region, the Kennabago begins at Big Island Pond near the Maine/Quebec border and ends in a lake – in this case Mooselookmeguntic Lake – about a 25-mile ... morelong run. And, like other rivers in the area, it is chock full of wild brooks and landlocked Atlantic salmon. What’s different is that it is also home to wild brown trout. Ask anyone who has fished near Rangeley and they’ll tell you that the Kennabago is the third best brook trout river in the state and might rank higher if it were more accessible.

The upper Kennabago starts at Big Island Pond and flows for about 12 miles before flowing through the west end of Kennabago Lake. Described as scenic and remote, this section is mostly gated, although you may gain access through a guide or by paying a fee. It is possible to wade at the junction of Little Kennabago Lake and the river, as a substantial sandbar extends several yards into the lake. During the spring and fall seasons, the brook trout are ample and active every hour of the day.

While fish remain in the river all year long, each spring and fall large brook and landlocked salmon migrate out of the lake and into the lower river in great quantity. Here access is very good between Steep Pool Bank and Mooselookmeguntic Lake. Open from April through September, the entire river and its tributaries are available for fly fishing only. Limitations on fish are fairly strict – 2 trout with a minimum length of 10 inches and only 1 can be in excess of 12 inches. The limit on salmon is one. After August 15th the river becomes catch and release only, with its tributaries closed to fishing to safeguard spawning.

Anglers looking for another type of experience will find Kennabago Lake interesting. It is thought to be the first fly-fishing-only lake in Maine (since the 1920s) and is commonly assumed to be the largest east of the Mississippi. Getting there can be a challenge since there are no paved roads and access can be difficult. Deemed a Wilderness Gem Lake, it is one of a mere five in the state with that designation. Brooks range from 10-14 inches accompanied by a healthy population of salmon. Though not as common, wild brown trout, five pounds and greater, are found here as well.
Game Fish Opportunities:
A stones throw from the town of Rangley is what most anglers consider the second best, native brook trout fishery in the country – the Magalloway River. A tributary of the Androscoggin ... moreRiver, the Magalloway begins near the Canadian border and flows south for 30 miles (including distances over intervening lake water) through northwestern Maine and New Hampshire. Like other rivers in the Rangeley area, the Magalloway is interrupted first by Parmachenee Lake and then 2 1/2 miles later, by Aziscohos Lake, a narrow, 15-mile long body of water.

Privately owned property makes access difficult on the northern reaches of the river as it runs through harvested forestland. Where public access is available, it is best fished by wading or by canoe as this section is more of a small stream loaded with rifles and pools. Because pressure here is light, the fish are thought to be naïve and unaccustomed to seeing flies. Beginners in search of wild native brook or wild landlocked salmon should find this a great place to learn and gain confidence.

Magalloway’s mid section is rife with pools that drain into Parmachenee Lake, followed by a mile of deep pools and pocket water before reaching Aziscohos Lake. The dam at Aziscohos provides steady flows of cold water great for trout habitat. But what brings fishermen to the river section between the two lakes, are the extremely large lake fish that appear several times a year to take advantage of spring smelt or fall spawning.

The terrain after Aziscohos Lake is quite steep; the river descends over 250 feet in less than 2 miles, creating fast water, riffles and deep pools. Open from April through September, the entire river is fly fishing only and only barbless hooks can be used below the lake. South of the lake, fishing is restricted to catch-and-release for brook trout; north of the lake there is a 2 fish limit where fish less than 6 inches long and fish longer than 12 inches must be immediately set back into the water.
Game Fish Opportunities:
Short and swift is how many describe this freestone river - and they are not wrong. Although it’s only 6 miles long it is widely considered the best native Eastern brook trout river ... morein the US. Surrounded by dense forest and scores of lakes, the Rapid is part of the Androscoggin watershed and river system, an area known for outdoor sports and recreation. Aptly named, the river drops over 800 feet from its start in Lower Richardson Lake to its end at Umbago Lake, the steep incline accounting for its abundant whitewater.

Despite its short length, fishermen think of it in three sections – the Upper Dam, Middle Dam and Lower Dam. Getting to the Upper Dam requires a half-mile hike but the trek is worth it. Here there are large numbers of both brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon to be found in the deep water. Below Middle Dam (below Lower Richardson Lake) you’ll find fast pocket water that can be easily accessed by local roads and trails. At Lower Dam, water backs up into a 500-acre pool known as Pond in the River, providing access to the river’s finest fishing, the 2.5 miles between the Dam and Umbagog Lake.

Once stocked with Atlantic salmon, the salmon have successfully adapted and breed on their own, to the extent that now they are all wild. With the exception of Pond in the River where boats are necessary, the Rapid is a wading river. By New England measures, the season tends to start early, typically opening on April 1 and fully active by mid-May. September is considered the best time to fish. Brook trout in the 12 to 16 inch range are plentiful although 18 -20 inchers are not that uncommon. Salmon tend to average 12-14 inches. Fishing is restricted to barbless hooks and fly fishing only. Brook trout are restricted to catch–and-release only. Salmon is limited to 3 fish with a 12-inch minimum.
Game Fish Opportunities:
Trips
$
200
-
$
450
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 3 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
4 hours - 1 day
Destination:
Its "Spring Forward Day" with the clock change this morning. Longer days, stronger sun, and thoughts and plans for the upcoming season are on my mind this morning. Usually at this ... moretime I am busy finishing my winter job in the ski industry and madly getting ready to head to Michigan for the spring Steelhead season. This will be the second year I will not be going west and concentrating my guiding on the local waters of southern VT and nearby NY.

What a winter!! Or should I say a "non-winter"!!! Virtually no snow, wide temperature swings, and many days above freezing all culminating in the warmest winter on record for my home state of Vermont!!! As I write this report there is no snow cover and our temps have been averaging 15-20 F above normal Usually when the fishing season opens (early April) ours streams are high and cold from snow melt so our hatches and spring fishing doesn't get going till early May. NOT THIS YEAR, IT WILL BE UNUSUALLY EARLY DUE TO THESE RECENT CLIMATIC CONDITIONS. The local ski areas will close soon and I will have plenty of time to prep, tie flies, and work on my small water targets, walking/scouting and pruning that critical branch to get a good cast in a tight spot.
$
200
-
$
450
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 3 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
4 hours - 1 day
Its "Spring Forward Day" with the clock change this morning. Longer days, stronger sun, and thoughts and plans for the upcoming season are on my mind this morning. Usually at this ... moretime I am busy finishing my winter job in the ski industry and madly getting ready to head to Michigan for the spring Steelhead season. This will be the second year I will not be going west and concentrating my guiding on the local waters of southern VT and nearby NY.

What a winter!! Or should I say a "non-winter"!!! Virtually no snow, wide temperature swings, and many days above freezing all culminating in the warmest winter on record for my home state of Vermont!!! As I write this report there is no snow cover and our temps have been averaging 15-20 F above normal Usually when the fishing season opens (early April) ours streams are high and cold from snow melt so our hatches and spring fishing doesn't get going till early May. NOT THIS YEAR, IT WILL BE UNUSUALLY EARLY DUE TO THESE RECENT CLIMATIC CONDITIONS. The local ski areas will close soon and I will have plenty of time to prep, tie flies, and work on my small water targets, walking/scouting and pruning that critical branch to get a good cast in a tight spot.
$
225
-
$
325
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
4 hours - 1 day
Outfitters
BLUE RIDGE OUTFITTERS has been guiding people who love to fish and instructing beginners since 1996. Our goal is simple: we want our guests to discover and enjoy the same satisfaction ... moreand pleasure fishing brings to us. We know the rivers, streams and lakes of beautiful central and southern Vermont where we help our guests find a rewarding fishing adventure. The inevitable fish stories consistently reveal that our guests learn something about fish and their habitat, or just an increased awareness and comfort of being stream side"Endorsed by ORVIS" means BLUE RIDGE OUTFITTERS has the knowledge to assist you with your interest in fishing. Whether you are beginner or an avid angler, our goal is to provide the kind of adventure that will make you say it was the best fishing trip you've ever had.
Guides:

AuthorPicture

Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

130 comments
Weight varies between 150 and 200 lb, depending on who built it and when.
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Hi Tom, could you or anyone tell me the carpet or material that was used to cover the interior bottom of the grand laker shown in the first photo on this website? It looks like it would be light weight and I would like something like that for my grand laker. Thanks very much.
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[...] can fix or build anything (including the famed Grand Lake Canoe), and if you can get him on the phone, he can answer almost any useful question about the [...]
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That is not a 2006 Wheaton, that canoe was built in 2000 or 2001. My mother bought that for my father as an anniversary gift in 2001.
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In response to Mr. Clark. I bought a GLS canoe in 1971 built by Gary Cobb at Pierce Ponds Camp in Maine. Lovely craft. I used it on big rivers, lots of lakes, all through the Yellowstone country and even in both oceans. All with a 6 HP motor. It got destroyed in a terrific wind storm in 2001 in Utah. Gary may still be building them or know who does. I was his neighbor for a while. I spend quite a ... more bit of time downunder as well. This would be a great boat to fish for Baramundi in Queensland. He has plans as I recall.
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I find that keel strips are serve mostly as wear strips. Bilge keels and centerline keels do a poor job of holding the boat into the wind under power as the bow rises...the boat will want to weather vane regardless. All of my Square Stern boats have a single centerline keystone keelstrip about 2"x2" which works great. When going into the wind...move weight forward. I don't put bilge keels or spray ... more rails on the hull as they invaariably mesn leaks. One has a enlarged outwale like the Oldtown D rail used on the Molitor model...it defelects spray with ease. Regards, BW
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Im building a ceder strip voyerger. Its 20 ft . long , 4ft wide . Very similar to a Grand Laker except for how it is made. My question is .... Should I have triple keels to hold a line crusin on windy days and should the outside keels go all the way to the stern or can they be 8 feet long centered in the 20' lenth of the boat. I have the center keel in and Im getting ready to glass the inside.
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Just keep an eye out on Craigslist. Found this just by typing "Grand Laker" http://maine.craigslist.org/boa/2973687594.html
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Looking to buy Grand Lake canoe in Vermont area. email me at transit49@gmail.com
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I'm looking for a grand laker, I live in northern Maine...please email me with any info thanks!:) Brian.j.hebert@gmail.com
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Still have ur laker fs?
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Dear Tom Butler....I listened in on many stories from the old timers when I was quite young growing up in the Grand lake area and working in the garage helpling my grandfathe(Creston MacArthur Sr.) redo canoes and watching ole' Earl Bonness make paddles and them skinning hides as well...nipping whiskey was my fav pass time as a preteen with tme..lol...(I was told not to tell my mother or grandmother ... more and that it was in case of snakes bites, despite it being winter months and we have no posinopus snakes here, lol) .many storieswere swapped and I mostly sat and absorbed them and only spoke when asked, unlike most young kids today, lol...(some storis may have been the truth and some may not have been, lol) but they were passed down to me nonetheless....many I have forgot, but often I share some with my clients when I guide in my own Grandlaker.... Anyways, as I understood it, the original square sterns where actually a double ender hacked off on one end to accomodate the advent of the small outboards at the time...I was quite young running an old 60's I think ? SEARS?? elgin, 3 hp a do believe with built in tank and reverse was tuRn the motor around....ANYWAYS, my grand-father had a canvas square stern that I was told was a convert from around the same time frame as your double ender. Who made it I have no idea?? I was not aware, nor have I seen any of the really old original double enders with serial numbers..although many boat builders do tag them now and have for years past....my dad, who is deceased now, had a mold for a doubler ender when I was young that was made or at least obtained by an early boat builder named Harley Fitch who resided in GLS and is also related to my family....perhaps your canoe came off this mold??? If so and urs is tagged, it could be a rare canoe and like the "last of he Mohicans" sorta thing....???? Would love to see some pics.....happy trails.....gotta go clean some white perch....open water all around us, but we are still ice fishing here n there....nothing tastier than a feed of fried white perch or as we call it a fish Chowdah...lmao....
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I found out the grand lake canoe has serial #108 and made in March 1917. Anyone have knowledge of these
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We have a friend who has acquired a double-ender (not square) grand lake stream canoe. It needs some work but it is in fairly good condition. We believe it is before 1950's. The wicker is in perfect condition. I am very nostalgic about this canoe and am wondering who to talk to about it.
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I have a 1956 sonny sprage laker for sale in winslow maine
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Pretty Grand Laker, though in that setting, a raft made of Popsicle sticks would shine... Thanks for sharing.
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I ended up having Bill Shamel build me one. Link to picture of it: http://i764.photobucket.com/albums/xx284/osmo58/DocksatCobbs-1.jpg
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I forget to say that this canoe is in GREAT shape (clear coat and not the green) and that it also has brass oar locks and ALL brads, screws and metal are brass. Pictures are available upon request
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I am looking for any help someone might have in ideas in regards to selling a Grand Laker that was made in 1986 by Gregg Drummond (Pierce Pond area). I want or would like to sell the canoe w/ 2 folding seats, and trailer. I am looking at around $3400.00 but that is just a starting price. I live in the midwest but I could delivery to the new england area around June 2012. Anyone ideas would be helpful. ... more Thanks
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Send me a couple pictures and I'll post them...
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I have made a living restoring wooden canoes for the last 25 years...funny thing...each of the customers/buyers with Grand Lakers all stay in-touch telling me of their adventures. My hobby/passion is fishing and over the past 59 years I have fished many places in N. Americs in all kinds of boats and my fondest memories are times spent in Grand Lakers.
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The Grand Laker comments thread just never dies; what a great little subculture has grown up around these boats and the people who have built them...
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I remember Alvah Harriman. He was my guide for a week on the lakes at GLS many years ago. I reember his wife Robin too. They were a warm and welcome couple. So nice! I caught my share of troghy small mouth bass back then...all on dear hair flies (mostly Darlberg divers). Fond memories. Great times. God bless you Alvah! And you as well Robin. BW
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I have a Grand Laker canoe (19'6") in excellent shape made by Greg Drummond ( Pierce Pond Maine) made in 1986 that I would like to sell. The canoe has been kept under cover and includes 2 seats, 7 1/2 Mercury, gal trailer, oar locks (brass),oars, one of which has a split but made by Shaw and Tenney. I am asking $4,000.00 but I will sell without the motor for $3,500.00. I live in Indiana and will deliver ... more for additional fee. Please contact me at (574) 266-0702 or at this email address rthompson1998@live.com
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I was lucky to have earl and val as aguide back in the days gone by many memories have a 1956 sprage laker for sale email biglake8@ yahoo.com
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[...] days, we#8217;ll load up one of the Grand Laker canoes and head out for more promising fishing grounds (made so by the distance we have to travel to get [...]
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Yes, I personally knew Pop Moore and have one of his molds.....the 2006 Wheaton canoe I just purchased I had to slightly refurbish. It was built by Lance Wheaton (raised in Grandlake) from Forest City, Me. Lance built it for another guide Alvah Harriman who passed away and the family sold it cheap because they wanted it to go to another guide and be put back into action as I would love to do with ... more your dad's boat maybe .....I am 50-years-old myself but grew up immersed in the outdoors and loved to sit and listen for hours to the stories of all the old timers, including my grandfather Creston MacArthur Sr. and all the ones like Pop Moore, Earl Bonness and many others from GLS. I am sure your dad has many stories to tell as well. Well i am rambling.....let me know...happy trails.....
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I'm hoping to get a reasonable price; not sure what that would be; probably not 3500 since it's an old motor and trailer. It's at my father's and I will be there reinspecting it next weekend, so I can give you an accurate idea of current condition. Happy to talk about it. egb1@mac.com
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Eric and/or Mick....what are either of you asking for your canoes? My mom was born in Grand-lake Stream and I am a fifth generation guide and from the are and therefore have been around these canoes most my life which including buidling them. I just purchased a 2006 Wheaton laker with 06 15 hp motor and a newer trailer for $3500 .
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I am selling my 'Sonny Sprague' built Grand Laker. In excellent shape with 9.9 motor, trailer, etc. Send me an email if you are interested!!!! Canoe is in NC.
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My father (almost 90 now) and I have a Grand Laker built about 1968 by Kenny Wheaton on Pop Moore's mold. Recently restored and looks great. We're ready to sell it so it can get back to being a fishing boat. Comes with original trailer - in good running order - and a working vintage 91/2 hp outboard. Call 207-702-2939 or email me. Eric
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Try Wooden Boat - at the very least you can take a course in small boat repair. I have the good fortune to have built a double ender in Grand Lake Stream with my dad - that and the two grand lakers my dad built with Sonny Sprague before I was born. Best of luck!
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The Grand Lake Canoe knows no equal. It's as functional and pleasant a fishing craft as it is handsome and proud in its rich Maine heritage.
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Remember, the Underground gets a 20% cut - or a free joyride around the lake.
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Hi Peter: It's mdpaddler@aol.com regards, Bryan
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What is your email address?
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What is your email address? Interested in your Grand Laker.
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contact: 970-379-2369
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I have a laker for sale. Can meet to deliver in NE USA. $2150 410-628-7019
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I have a laker for sale.
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I would be interested in seeing the pictures
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Do you still have the grand laker for sale and if so how can you be reached?
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We have a Greg Drummon 1987 all wood handmade 19' Grand Laker with cain chairs and a 5 hp Honda on a galvenized trailer for sale. This was custom made in Maine at the Pierce Pond camps. $4000.00 Write me to see pictures.
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I may have a 1966 vintage Grand Laker for sale. It was fiberglassed in GLS in 1993-4 and never used thereafter.Owner was anal in keeping it pristine. Believe it or not it currently resides in Austin, TX. Daughter of owner who passed away wanted it.It may be heading East(New England) in the fall of 2010.
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To all who know the joy... I have another Grand Laker to sell. 1940's vintage . Great lines. Trailer amp; motor available too. Call or write for details. Bryan 410-628-7019 emai: mdpaddler@aol.com
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Hi Richard, I have a used "Pop Moore" Grand laker for sale. You can contact me at scottsabol@hotmail.com
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Great essay. I have a "Pop Moore" Grand laker in great shape for sale for anyone interested. It needs paint and varnish. Please e mail me with any questions-scottsabol@hotmail.com.
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TO Bryan Thank you for phone no. Yes i am related to them .But donot know them.I Live four hours south on the coast of Maine penobscot bay Dennis
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Hello Dennis Sprague. Are you related to any of the Sprague's in Grand Lake Stream, ME? Try Loren Sherman 810-394-0400. He built my 20 Grand Laker and may want to sell his mold.
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I looking for a 20ft. form or mold.The V.A. is sending me to wooding boat but they are not giving a form class.
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Geoff thank you for the reply and I'll be in touch within the week....Mike
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Assuming most folks remove their motors when the boat is on the trailer. Does anyone make a motor mount for trailers?
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MIchael, I do know a few builders in Grand Lake Stream. As I just purchased one last year. Feel free to email me and I can give you some contacts. geoff_mitchelL@brettgm.com
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Does anyone have knowledge of who is currently building Grand Lakers other than Island Falls Canoe Co. and how to contact them?
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I would be interested in a new or used Grand Laker. I live in New Hampshire.
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I mayt be reached at 410-628-7019 or mdpaddler@aol.com
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I would be happy to answer any questions off the blog. Please return with your address...email address and phone number. Thanks Bryan
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Bryan.....How old is the Grand-laker? and where is it located? and how much would you want for just the boat and trailer? Craig
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sixm7glK5Pg Some video of the maiden voyage of my Pop Moore/Bill Shamel Grand Laker a few weekends ago. (you can ignore the dialog as we tend to get a little foolish when the camera is rolling!!) But just the same, there's some great footage of how beautiful these canoes really are and how stable they are even while fishing standing up. Enjoy! MITCH
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I have a nice Grand Lake to sell. I do not know the builder. I have a 7 1/2 HP Johnson motor... and a trailer. The boat need some work...I can supply all the parts...OR...I can restore the boat that it would be the best it can be. I can sell the boat as is...with parts...with parts and motor or what ever suites. Bryan Wilhelm 410-628-7019
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I have a Dale Tobey Grand Laker built in the winter of' '06-'07. I believe that it was #3 boat. It is just about my most prized possession and has worked flawlessly. I live in Keene, NH and take it to GLS each year in May to fish. This year it will be May 14th. I have been running a 4 stroke Nissan 6 HP for the last two years and it does the job just fine. I had the motor from a previous boat and ... more had considered going to a 9HP but have found I do not need to, even with it fully loaded with three large people. The 9s will pull away after awhile but the way I look at it I am not looking for a race boat anyway. Dale does a tremendous job with the boats and also knows the lakes very well having been a master guide in GLS for many, many years. Would be happy to post photos of the boat if someone can direct me where to put them. Edward Kunttu Keene, NH
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We presently still own a grand laker.. Great canoe.. Many found memmories fishing from it. My grand father Bud McGrath owned a fishing camp @ the mouth of grand lake stream (heading into big lake. Red camp on the right.. ) I spent many summers there. Miss it very much.. But still have my gramps canoe.. Will always keep it..
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Thanks Tom: Maybe all us GL'rs could meet to fish and enjoy our boats. I live in MD but travel all summer fishing all ovver N. America. I have a camp at Indian Lake NY (Adirondack Park). There are plenty of opportunities there. We could take non Boat owners too. Camping in the adirondacks is just great after fathers day. I enjoy Bass fishing with a fly rod. I have two Laker at present...but there ... more is a chap talking to me about buying one of them. Regards, Bryan
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Canoes and rough water don't often go together, but the Grand Lakers prove they can...
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3-14-09 Hello all: I have had several in my life...one an original Pop Moore. I often would go on canoe trips alone but with other couples. When the wind blew, we would all get in the grand laker and go...canoes in tow. Weather was not a problem. Those were the days! Gotta say, Grand lakers are GRAND. Fly fishers who live a block from Lefty and drive a grand laker are (like myself) are blessed (and ... more I am greatful). Have one here...if I decide to sell it, I will write here again. Regards, Bryan W. retired guide Cockeysville, MD
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gt;is it still for sale?And if it is, how much of a cut does the Underground get?
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is it still for sale? Bill Mattei: I have a Grand Lake Canoe that I would like to sell.It is about 20 years old and I used to fish in Maine with my brother . Since he passed away I haven't used it.It's in mint condition.What would it be worth?
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgV9vkyav0U I obviously have too much time on my hands! Anyway, here's a quick video clip of my Grand Laker's arrival to my garage and the process of having it built! I thought the patrons of this thread may enjoy a close up look at what is sincerely a masterpiece built by Bill Shamel off the "Pop" Moore mold. The intermitent photos are of Bill, his workshop and the ... more "pop" Moore mold itself. Enjoy! MITCH
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I imagine iceout seems like a long ways away when you've got a new Grand Laker to float. Building a site for people to share Grand Laker photos would be kinda cool, but I've got enough unpaid projects going already.
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Just thought I would add my comment to the list, as I just purchased my first Grand Laker! It was built by Bill Shamel of GLS and has yet to hit the water.... Spring can't come soon enough! And to comment on the Grand Lakers made in Florida and other parts of the country I'll quote long time builder George "Sonny" Sprague: "'One thing's for sure, If it ain't built in Grand Lake Stream, it sure as ... more hell ain't a Grand Lakah!!." Great article and thread, too bad we don't have a place to share photos of our canoes and restoration projects... Anyone have any ideas? MITCH New Brunswick, Canada
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M J Nylander Brian Wilhelm in Cockysville, MD does canoe restorations and specializes in Grand Laker restorations. If you're interested in contacting him email me at magicanoe@yahoo.com and I'll send you his information Loren
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Hi there MJ - if you don't have any luck with Dale Tobey I might be able to help you out. I am located just outside Bangor, Maine. Call me at 848-3797 Fred
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Hello M J, I had a Grand Laker restored by a guy named Dale Tobey. He is a nice guy and does excellent work. You may want to contact him and his phone # is 207-796-2884. Maybe you could email some photos to him and he could give you some idea of cost. However, you would have to get your boat to him in Grand Lake Stream, ME.
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I have inherited a Grand Laker. It needs Maintenance but I don't know what to do. I have not been sucessful in finding any on the internet. Any help, I live in the Boston area...thanks, M J
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I really enjoyed your article. These are very beautiful canoes. I am sure canoes like this exist in Florida, where i am from, but there is so little that is truly traditional to Florida. I will have to make the trip just for the experience
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Very beautiful canoes. Fantastic essay. It was a great educational read. Isn't it good to know that some things never completely change. i am refering to the river guides.
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Del: In the comment directly above yours I gave a Web address. It has contact information for someone who might be able to help.
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i have what i think may be a vintage 50s grand laker , but as im new to the idea , i need help to figure it out. could any one help me ?
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Bill: I couldn't make a good estimate as to value. Contact Grand Lake's Bill Shamel if you want an estimate as to value. He might also be able to hook you up with a buyer. This page has some contact information: http://www.glsfaf.org/canoe_boat.htm
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I have a Grand Lake Canoe that I would like to sell. It is about 20 years old and I used to fish in Maine with my brother . Since he passed away I haven't used it. It's in mint condition. What would it be worth?
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HI, TOM- HOPE YOU HAVE MANY TIGHT LINES ,WHEN YOU ARE ON THE LAKE . . BEEN FISHING FROM THE DOCK AT THE LAKE I LIVE ON, TO OLD. TO WADE THE RIVER.-- BUT GOD IS GOOD,,GOT AN 8 1/2 POUND BASS THE OTHER MORNING. NOT GRAND LAKES BUT IT WILL HAVE TO DO !!! TILL NEXT TIME JOSEPH CHIAPPA
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Loren: send me an email via the "Contact" page of this site. I'm on a fishing trip to Montana right now, but would love to see the pics.
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Hi Loren, I have had my Grand Laker project delayed by another rush job but am about to put back on top of my list. I would like to see photos of your boat, if you don't mind. Thanks, Fred
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Tom, I'm building a Grand Laker that will be finished this weekend, I have some photots of it. Where do I send the pics? Happy 4th!
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Dear Fred, I have seen many different models of the original grandlakers built by Pop Moore, the Sprague's, Bacons, lengths and dimensions will vary according to the models...the ones built to take on the larger bodies of water such as the Allagash models are wider for transporting dunnage and people....the ones that are a bit shorter and sweep up at the stern are lighter and make excellent paddling ... more canoes for guiding....anyways I have not made a grandlaker in some time but I us to like to make the outside one inch wide by one and a half inches high and the inside is a little beefier at one and a quarter by one and a half high....of course heavier means more strength but more weight and of course often more troublesome to bend.....as a rule place operator's seat 16 to 18 inches forward from stern board...depends on length of handle on motor intended for use on the canoe....40 to 43 inch on thwart spacing but also depends on particular model and it's overall length....often I like to make the thwart up in the front seat area a about 8 inches wide or wider as a seat for the client to sit up there on calm days as to fish better....as for the keel a heavy one inch by one inch should suffice....hope this helps.... Craig
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Mr. Woodruff...are you referring to George S. Perkins, Jr. of Burnham, Maine and Orlando, FL? If so, could you please contact me by email? Thanks! angels@me.acadia.net
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Loren: Thanks for stepping in with the info. And Fred, send us a picture when you're done with the thing.
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Thanks for your help, Loren ! I think I have most of what I need now to get started on finishing this boat. What is the length of the middle thwart that you use? Given the flexibility of the hull I have there is a lot of flop amidships and the width of the middle thwart will dictate the shape of the whole boat. You suggested I might wish to consider bilge keels. What would be their dimensions and ... more location if I decide to do so? Appreciate your help ! Fred Kircheis
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I like the inner gunnels to be 1 1/4" square and outer gunnels 1 1/4"high x 1 1/2"wide to help keep spray out of the boat. You'll want to make them beefy to add strength to the hull. The seat should be forward from the transom to allow you to operate the tiller without it hitting your waist or having to bend too far back. I put one thwart just behind the deck to add strength there. I put one amidships ... more and one equally between the center thwart and the bow thwart. The last one goes equally between the center thwart and the front of the seat. BTW 'Lakers usually only have 1 seat. The keel can be either a standard or a shoe keel. I prefer the shoe keel as it protects the bottom better and is less likely to hang up on something under the water. Loren
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Fred; Sorry, I can't be of any help. I just write about the things instead of building them.
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I have just been given a new, unfinished, strip build Grandlaker to finish off for the poor sole who began the project. The hull is complete, with transom, and completely fiberglassed (although the latter is not a professional job. I need to attach gunnels, deck, thwarts, seat, keel and keelson, and out side stem. Is there anyone who can tell me what is the desirable dimensions for the inwales and ... more outwales; the placement locations for thwarts and seat; size of keel etc? I would appreciate either a response through this site or a contact to a person who would be able and willing to help me out. Thanks, Fred Kircheis Carmel, Maine
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hi, tom greg i have gone by my 84th but still think about my days on the lake with the great guides. boy do i wish i could spend a day like that again.. joseph chiappa
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please note new e-mail ..... merry christmass lovers of grand laker's
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Hello my name is Elizabeth Gaffy from Bond University, Queensland. I'm currently the Production Designer on a short film for Bond about the Solomon Islands. We have been looking around a great deal for a wooden canoe similar to the ones the villages on the Solomon Islands used around WW2. But at the moment we have extended our search and are looking for anything similar to them. Do you know anyone ... more near Queensland that may hire or sell wooden canoes? As we are a small budget feature film, we don't have enogh money to go buying ones that cost thousands of dollars, so any help you can give on anyone you know that will be willing to lend one to us for a few weeks will be greatly appreciated!! Thankyou for taking the time to read this, if so could you reply back to me ASAP. Sincerely, Elizabeth Gaffy email: bundy88liz@hotmail.com
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gregg and tom, thanks for the notes,,, iwill be checking the trout underground tight lines joe
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Joe: I'm in Grand Lake Stream right now. I don't have any pictures of the guides from 40 years from now, but will see if I can find any. And of course, I plan to post all sorts of pictures of the place as it stands today. Stay tuned...
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Hi Joe, I'm sorry, but I don't have any photos of grand lake stream or the guides. I agree with you that it is a beautiful place and great fishing (the way life should be). I grew up in that area and I really miss the great outdoors and the people there. I hope you get a chance to visit there again. Best Wishes. Gregg
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my thoughts go back 40 years .i am now 84 and still think about the wonderfull times at grand lake stream .i stoped by the lake a few years ago and did not know it .what changes ! iwonder if you have any pictures of the guides of that time . i would love to have a copy of them. ithink there were great guys. i dont know how its done today but the lunch we would stop for so many times my family has ... more never has forgoten . and the fishing at that time was great from those canoes that each guide made .i wish i could make one more trip like those. thanks for reading... joseph m. chiappa
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[...] a reports, though it will be tough to top last year#8217;s Grand Lake Canoe essay and the #8220;caught in the storm#8221; posts, especially since I#8217;m going in a deader part [...]
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[...] rural sporting traditions by buying property (and obtaining easements) #8212; is raffling off a Grand Lake Canoe and [...]
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Hi Loren, thanks for your info. I'll likely have someone at Grand Lake Stream do the repairs, as it will be more convenient for me. Hopefully, it will not be too costly. Again, thanks for your input. Gregg
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If you were closer to Michigan I'd offer my services to you in refurbishing your Grand Laker. A closer alternitive is Brian Wilhelm in Cockeysville, Maryland has a great deal of experience repairing Grand Lakers. He can be reached by email at MDPaddler@aol.com Hope this helps. Loren Sherman
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Gregg: Chris Wheaton -- one of the builders of the Grand Lake Canoe -- might be able to help, though it's possible he doesn't have much time for repairs. He and his wife own Grand Lake Lodge in Maine. Good luck. http://www.grandlakelodgemaine.com/
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Hello Tom, could you tell me if someone at Grand Lake Stream does repairs on a Grand Laker and could you give me a contact phone #? My Dad and I purchased a 20' square stern Grand Laker about 45 years ago and still have it, but would like to have it fixed up a little. My Dad passed away a couple of years ago and I live in Connecticut, but will be coming to Robbinston in August. I certainly could drop ... more it off for repairs in August and leave it until next summer. Also, are there any trailers for a Grand Laker available for sale? Thanks for any help you can provide. Gregg Brooks
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Craig: The article doesn't date the square stern, but says that Grand Lakers received their fiberglass skins and that the sterns were strengthened to accommodate bigger motors. It doesn't really speak to the advent of the square stern itself since I don't know when it arrived on the scene. I know that Chris Wheaton and his father also cut their own wood, and that Chris enjoyed working alongside his ... more father, who passed away a few years ago.
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Was pleasantly surprised with this article although the dates were a little off. The sqaure sterns were made earlier than the 50s. I am 4th generation Master Maine Guide and was pratically born and raised in a Grand-laker. My grandfather (Creston MacArthur Sr.)owned several square stern canoes from the late 30's to early 40s which had canvas on them and one was a Sprague model. When growing up as ... more a teen I use to help repair them and also helped my dad build them back in the 70s. I still have a Bacon mold, steam boxes, etc and am building a few for personal use only, but might plan to build more. I use to cut my own cedar and ash and build double ender lapstrips a few years back but my friend who I worked with, young George Perkins Jr., recently passed away. I still have several older canoes that need restoration, but never seems to be enough time to get at these timeless treasures. I have one that was the last canoe my dad and I made togther in the 70s. It was built over the top of another Grandlaker so the finished result was a wider beam and a canoe capable of carry lots of dunnage from our island camp and I can attest to it tranporting many deer on our hunts on the Grand Falls Flowage. I personally knew and highly respected many of the old-timers who crafted these canoes and so dearly miss them but treasure thier leagcy that they have passed on.
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Loren: I've since discovered there are other builders outside the Grand Lake area (which is what I limited the builders comment to). Send pictures if you get a chance.
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I am a Grand Laker builder in Michigan, so I guess that makes 3 builders instead of 2?. I acquired my form for the 19' 10" x 46" Grand Laker from Horace Strong in Craftsbury, Vermont when he retired. I usually build one or two of these wonderfull canoes per year in my spare time. My email is magicanoe@yahoo.com I'm glad to see someone documenting the history of these unique and special boats. Thank ... more you for your article!
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Bruce: I don't know how to contact the Sprague folks. And I'm not sure how easy it is to build your own; these things are formed around wooden "molds" which make it possible to steam and bend the wood. Given my utter lack of woodworking skills, I don't know if you'd have to build your own mold first. If so, I imagine it would be a fair amount of work. I'd give Wheaton a call (right now he's out here) ... more in a week or two. He might not be building this winter as he's working on his house, but might know Sprague's number - or even if someone's selling a used Grand Laker.
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Sir; We live along the canadian border in Minnesota where the lakes are large and rocky,much like those in you area.I have been interested in building my own Grand Laker but have also had a hard time finding plans. At this time i am not sure if my skill as a woodworker is such that i would be able to build one so given that ,i am interested in finding someone who builds them. I can get the phone # ... more for Chris Wheaton off the internet but have been unable to find info for the sprague canoe co. Owning one of these boats has been my dream since i saw one in a remote area of Canada while on a fishing trip with my parents about 40 plus years ago.In my view it is one of the classics where there is a perfect marriage of form and function. Thank you Bruce Sampson
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I'm sorry I don't know of any plans. I believe that most current builders of Grand Lakers use a wooden form; after they've steamed the wood to soften it, they bend it over the form to acquire the canoe shape. In addition, I think the current builders also learned the craft from fathers, relatives, etc., so I'm not sure if "plans" actually exist. My only help here is for you to contact the owners of ... more the Grand Lake Lodge (the husband is Chris Wheaton, one of the remaining builders of Grand Lake Canoes). Perhaps he can help.
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G'day from Brisbane, Australia. The GRAND LAKER canoe's are a brillant design and very pactical boat and I'd like to build one (around 20'long). I'm LOOKING for PLANS to a GRAND LAKER, if anybody could help me, where i could purchase plans for a Grand Laker, I'd be most appreciative. Living in Australia, we don't have any boats similar to the Laker and I've searched the net for hours, looking for ... more plans, without success. My addy is a_aabra@hotmail.com cheers... Martin
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Bonnie! So glad you found us. I'm certainly familiar with the name Sonny Sprague - there are pictures of him all over the walls of Grand Lake Lodge. Good luck with your canoe. Maybe report back from time to time. And I'd kill for some good pictures of the project while underway. With a new baby in the family, I wonder if Chris Wheaton will get any canoes built this winter. When the LT Nancy and I ... more were out there in September, it didn't look promising... 8-) Just an FYI; the LT Nancy's mother is Judy Perry, and you doubtless know Nancy's sister Lindsay Wheaton. It's just another day at the Underground - bringing the world together one wooden canoe at a time...
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I reallly enjoyed your article as I hail from a long line of Grand Laker craftsmen. My grandfather William Sprague built his own mold in the early 1920's and continued until his death in 1969. My father "Sonny" Sprague continued with the Sprague Canoe Company until his death in 2001. There are several builders in GLS at present to include Chris Wheaton (Wheaton Canoe), Bill Shamel (Pop Moore Canoe)and ... more Sam Sprague (Sprague Canoe). Most of the builders have gone to a fiberglass cover, but I prefer the original canvas cloth. I do not believe there has ever been a female builder, but I am Planning on giving it a go this winter.
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Great to hear you've got a Grand Laker in such nice condition. They're gorgeous boats. As for the motors, pretty much all of the guides are using 9 hp and above, and I'm pretty sure I saw a couple using bigger motors (15 hp on one). There were several different builders of the Grand Lake pattern, and it's impossible for me to say whether your 1960 boat is strong enough, but I'm reasonably sure it ... more would handle any 9 hp. And yes, you definitely should take the motor off the stern for winter storage (a good time to make sure there hasn't been any water penetration into the transom or dry rot). But saying any more would transcend my actual knowledge. You could always contact Chris Wheaton at the Grand Lake Lodge in Maine and see what he says.
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Hi, Just stumbled across your article – awesome! I own a Grand Laker –it is now about 46 years old and in excellent condition. I am currently looking to buy a new motor – currently have a 2 stroke and am looking to get a 4 stroke (9 HP) engine. I am glad to see that is what you have. Did you have to do any additional reinforcement to the canoe? Do you keep the engine on the canoe when you are not ... more using the canoe for extended periods of time? As you can tell, I am a little concerned about the weight – current engine only weights about 50 pounds. Thanks!
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Eye Candy: The Grand Lake Canoe...I'm not sure what Tom at Trout Underground does for a living because it seems like he's always fishing and on vacation. But whatever it is, I'm gonna get some career change tips at the Blogger Ho Down next month. In case you haven't been over to th...
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Moe Thanks so much for weighing in about your Grand Laker. Let us know how it fishes in Helena. By "natural" finish, do you mean your fiberglass skin is a translucent tan color? That *would* be an interesting look. I have some new pictures of the interior of the Grand Lakers here at camp (bailed the many, many gallons of water out of our "adventure" and removed the mats), which I'll post later today ... more or first thing tomorrow. As for a big Maine Brookie, sadly none around here - at least none that anyone's willing to tell me about. There have been darkly veiled hints about some brookie ponds about 45 minutes from here (and I could throw a double-ender in the back of a pickup if I knew), but those seem to be primarily a springtime gig too.
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Tom, as always you put me right there with your writing and pictures. I am so glad Nancy was at the helm and not you, I have seen you both in the control of water craft and you are a great writer leave the boat work to her. Just kidding (kinda). Really guys I think he fakes it in my boat so he can fish more. See ya when you get home. David
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Enjoyed your article.I am one of those fortunate few who owns a grand laker. It was built by a friend and Maine guide, Greg Drummond, almost 20 years ago at Pierce Pond outside North New Portland, Maine. I originally had a smaller 16' version, dubbed the "Pierce Ponder" which I used to fish in lakes all over Maine and Vermont for 20 years before that . My grand laker probably should be green but it ... more was left natural and has alternating red and white cedar on the outside which looks very beautfuland distinctive. The inside looks exceptional too partly because it has never been varnished, instead being treated on the inside with Watco Marine teak oil and recoated almost every year. After several years in storage I recently trailered (I agree car tops don't work) the boat to Montana where we now spend a lot of our fishing time and I plan to do some lake fishing in the area around Helena. These boats are so unique that a crowd gathered at each gas station fill up all across the country. The only thing that might enhance your wonderful photo's would be a picture with a 3# maine brookie on the floor in a net. I love my boat , can you tell !!!!!!!
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Lots of comments, and I've only got a few minutes before the LT Nancy and I head uplake on an all-day Grand Lake Canoe adventure (the river kinda bites right now, so we're headed to a place where big smallmouth are rumoured to hide out....) Dave; probably do OK on the Fall River, but it's really a guide's canoe for the lakes around here, which are big and can blow up pretty quickly in the wind. And ... more yes, you *are* a sucker for wood boats... There are only two people making Grand Lake Canoes at the moment, and one of them - Chris Wheaton - only does it during the winter when the guiding is a bit slow. Like good bamboo rods, these things represent a fair number of hours of work, so the price is typically in the $6K region (not including trailer). In another parallel to bamboo rods, apparently it's not hard to build one, but the real trick is in building one that remains nice and straight after a couple years of use. I wasn't kidding about the longevity of these things; turns out *both* the canoes in the my pictures are closer to 40 years old than 30. Naturally, that means keeping the varnish up, but you look at the boats the guides fish from all season long (season after season) and they're doing fine. The above-mentioned Chris Wheaton mentioned that he and his father (one of the originators of the current "pattern") used to drive north and "get the wood" for the canoes they built together. (White Cedar is used for the interior.) Leaving soon for more fishing, so later!
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I don't see many fish in the canoe pictures or even any equipment.
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Tom, great pics and story. How do you think it would handle the Fall River? I just love wood boats of any kind. David
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Grand Lake Canoes: Standing the Test of Time...Tom Chandler published an excellent photo essay on the history, versatility and reliable performance of the Grand Lake Canoe, which has provided safe transport to Maine anglers and guides for almost one hundred years. "Like most great tools, it's a....
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Tom, Thanks for the beautiful photos and a very well written piece. HH
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Those canoes are beautiful, and as usual, so is the photography. You are always able to capture the essense of a subject with your composition. Thanks for enduring my lame sense of humor. I actually did a google to see if you could buy one. Not that I could find. - rriver
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And oh yeah - that's the LT Nancy piloting the thing in the lead photo. Is that great or what? She's ten times better at the canoe than I am, which gives me a great excuse to do nothing but fish...
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Sorry. I'd bring one back for you, but all my fishing gear puts me right at my luggage allowance, and just throwing out the one pair of underwear I brought wouldn't do it. As for weight, there's no way one man could lift one. Yeah - they're very light for a 20 foot craft capable of zipping three (even four) people around a lake with a 9 horse motor, but you do need a trailer for the things. They don't ... more fit in a shirt pocket. Sadly, the pictures don't do the things justice. When you sit in one, you're surrounded by all this warm, cozy wood. Sorta like looking down at your casting hand and seeing bamboo...
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Hey Tom, What IS the weight of one ? I would assume that you aren't going to flip one up on the surf board rack. You probably mean light as compared to a 20 foot fiberglass monster bass boat, right ? Larry S
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TC, Can you put one of those canoes in your luggage? (Just throw out your undies to make room for the canoe). I'll pay you for them and the canoe when I pick it up. When should I stop by? -rriver
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