A Mountain of a Man
Clarence Bouges was born in Engleheart, Ontario in 1909. Bouges spent much of his life residing in Dwight, Ontario just outside Algonquin park. He was a trapper and canoe builder and built cabins for Killarney Lodge in addition to working as a guide in the park. He is well known as a pioneer of canoe building in the Algonquin region and was popularized by the late Dan Gibson, a famous Canadian nature filmmaker. In addition to canoes, Clarence also made paddles, oars and even fiddles. That’s right! Fiddles! He also played the fiddle and the Banjo.
Clarence was known for making the finest snow shoes in the region. In fact, many locals would say that Clarence played a large part in shaping outdoor recreation in Algonquin and the surrounding area. Aside from his work, Clarence was a very interesting man. He had a pet one-winged raven that he would give beaver carcasses to. While in the shop, he would sometimes use cut up toothbrush pieces as inlays in his woodwork.
There was even a song written about him. Listen to John Dorsey’s
Clarence Bouges tribute from the album No Second Chance:
What’s Cook Craft have to do with Clarence Bouges?
Curiously enough, 37 years after Clarence left this world Brian Cook was looking for a place to build canoes and found that Clarence’s old shop was vacant and available. And so, after some renovations and sprucing up, Clarence’s old canoe shop is now the home of COOK CRAFT where he does all his new builds and repairs.
Prior to moving into Clarences old shop, Brian had collected a few of Clarence’s old canoe molds. Some of these molds were, in turn, built before Clarence’s time, by a man named Victor Asbury who had a marina and worked on the shore of Dwight Bay in Lake of Bays. Victor built many canoes and rowboats during the first half of the 1900s. Truly there is a tradition of Canoe Building in the village of Dwight.
Our current collection
13.5 ft – Built fairly deep to take a load, yet is sleek, fast and lightweight.
16 ft cruiser – also sleek and very fast, but more spacious and comfortable.
13 ft square stern – a variation on the 16ft hull design and can be operated with a small gas or electric motor.
9 ft – Clarence used to use this canoe when he went out trapping. It also makes a nice wall hanger or coffee table.
Clarence was a legend around here, as were his canoes. Here at Cook Craft, we are continuing to build on Clarence’s legacy of creating fine wooden canoes.