(L to R) Kari Egeberg, Tim Foss, Kari's husband and Laura Langreck, with their custom paddles.

Hand-crafted, people-powered watercraft have graced the waters of the St. Croix river for  hundreds of years. On Tuesday, July 6, from 5-8 pm, visitors to the Paddle Crafts-Boat Show will have a chance to learn about, and see the difference between, canoes, kayaks, row boats, jon boats, dinghys, bateaus, and runabouts. 

“We want to show the diversity and variety of old watercraft, from historic canoes to hand-built kayaks to contemporary canoes made by well-known Minnesota companies,” said event co-organizer Bill Simpson. 

He expects the show to include about 30 watercraft, from historic birchbark canoes to a boat currently being built by John Goodfellow, who will be on hand to explain the process. 

Notable watercraft include:

• A wooden runabout from Johnson Boat Works (now White Bear Boat Works), the only wooden boat they ever made

• A runabout made by Peter Borough in Canada

• A Canadian woodstrip canoe built in the 1890s

• A chestnut (wood canvas) canoe from Canada

• An 18’ Nor-West wood canvas freight canoe from Quebec, used by First Nations people

• A wood canvas canoe made by notable Ely, MN canoe builder Joe Seliga

• A bateau (flat-bottomed river boat) crafted by Marine residents Mike Tibbetts and John Goodfellow from drawings at the Washington County Historical Society of historic tows that loggers used in the late 19th Century. 

Kevin Nyenhuis, event co-organizer and paddle building instructor at the Marine Folk School, will bring hand-made paddles to show. Past students are invited to bring their paddles as well. 

In Nyenhuis’ popular class, students learn about wood selection, use of hand tools and a skill saw, paddle design, and paddle sizing. At the end of three days, they leave with a completed bent shaft paddle ready for varnishing – and the acclaim of fellow paddlers. 

Don Mitchell, Scandia fiddler and author of “Shimmering Blue Line,” a book of essays about the St. Croix river, will perform music from 5-6 pm. 

Watercraft- and water-themed books will be on display, including “Hudson Bay Bound: Two Women, One Dog, Two Thousand Miles to the Arctic,” by Natalie Warren, detailing her modern-day adventure recreating the historic canoe trip found in Eric Severeid’s memoir, “Canoeing With the Cree” (1935). 

Warren will be on hand to talk about her book, and will be joined by local poets for readings and spoken word performance beginning at 7 pm. Artists are expected to include Laurie Allman, Marge Barrett, Nancy Cosgriff, Mary Fernstrum, Kevin Nyenhuis, and Rosie Peters.

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