The Team

Steve Ambrose – Owner, Builder

Steve Ambrose

Gerrish rowing canoe

This is the old Gerrish that planted the bug many years ago.  I grew up in this boat not knowing what she was: a Gerrish rowing canoe probably built between 1905 and 1910.  She was 16′, leaked, and weighed a ton.  My mother was deathly afraid of the sailing rig after stories her father told of capsizing on the opposite side of the lake.  If there was more than a wisp of a breeze the rig stayed in the boathouse.  The old canoe survived every abuse that my brother and I threw at her but finally reached the point where she needed more help than I could give her.  Now that I’ve been firmly bitten by the wooden canoe bug I wish I had hung onto the old boat but at that time in my life I had neither the knowledge or desire so I donated it to a museum with the understanding it would be restored.  The museum went belly up years ago and the collection of small craft disappeared.  Maybe someone took her home and restored her.  (November 2013 – On a happy note, the old family boat has resurfaced and is back in my hands! It will be a while before we can start her long awaited restoration but we’ll detail the process once we start.)

In addition to summers in the Gerrish up in Maine, I made many canoe trips up into Canada with the Scouts.  I was also exposed to woodworking early in my life and it was inevitable that these two passions would eventually merge but it didn’t happen right away.  College and then 8 years as a Naval Flight Officer kept me busy (and without a shop).  After the Navy I went to work for the Caterpillar dealer in Birmingham, Alabama in equipment sales.  Hard to believe that it’s been over 20 years since I left the Navy but during that time I’ve built up quite a shop and made the dream of building quality canoes a reality.

Barry Holdridge – Builder

Barry Holdridge

Barry made the mistake several years ago of telling me he was bored!  We fixed that problem and he has become indispensable to the operation.  He’s even more of a perfectionist than I am and has developed quite a talent for applying the finicky marine enamel paint that fools most people into believing the canoes are fiberglass.

Wooden canoes are special.  They are made from elements of the very forests they travel through, made by hand using techniques passed down from one generation of builders to the next for over 100 years.

…perhaps our grandsons, having never seen a wild river, will never miss the chance to set a canoe in singing waters…glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in.

– Aldo Leopold

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