The Prospector turns 100: how this workhorse of a canoe helped build Canada – by Joe O’Connor (Financial Post – June 26, 2024)

A century ago this sturdy, quintessentially Canadian vessel was built to take geologists into the remote north. Today, its descendants are still being paddled by modern-day prospectors in search of that lucky strike

There were clues around the brick bungalow in north Toronto where Deb Scott grew up that hinted at her parents’ adventurous past. Photo albums full of black-and-white images of big lakes, dense northern forests, rocky hills and rushing waters; an old Coleman camping stove tucked away in a basement corner; a pair of heavy, eider-down sleeping bags; wooden crates full of rock samples; and a red, 16-foot Prospector canoe kept in the rafters of the two-car garage.

A heavy, and yet nimble, beast of a canoe, the Prospector — and there is some debate among the experts on this — was introduced to consumers by New Brunswick-based Chestnut Canoe Co. circa 1924, and was so named for its early association with the rock-hunting endeavours of the Geological Survey of Canada.

“The Prospector was a work boat, made for whitewater and big water, such as Lake Superior,” Jeremy Ward, curator of the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ont., said. “It appeared at a time when canoes were the vehicle of choice in the Canadian backcountry.”

Rivalling hockey, the beaver and the call of the loon as quintessentially Canadian things, canoes, in the modern context, tend to be associated with lazy, sunset paddles on a quiet lake. But the Prospector was built for fortune hunting, timber cruising, surveying, working traplines and carrying 850-pound loads. And its descendants are still being paddled today in the more remote corners of the great north woods, steered there by contemporary prospectors in search of a lucky strike.

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