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Follow along as we transform this old canoe

BOATFIX.CA prides itself on rebuilding challenging watercraft projects, usually ones most people would feel are well beyond help. These are boats that won't float because they took on too many holes during intimate collisions with rocks and logs, and others that fell from roof racks enroute to the launch, or those which blew off the beach during a strong gust of wind, hurling its helpless form into the dock. You know the small boat being referring to here as you may likely own one. But don't fear, and put your mind at ease. BOATFIX.CA can transform your small boat into its former glory, perhaps lighter and more beautiful than it ever was.


Here is a typical rebuild for an older fiberglass canoe, circa 1976. This example sustained years of neglect and abuse, recklessly patched and re-patched by its various proprietors. Extensive wear and fatigue was found in her aluminum gunwales as well as the fore and aft decks severely cracked and broken. With her youthful looks all but faded completely away, she was finally left to rot in the woods. The present owner learned of BOATFIX.CA and took a chance to have her rebuilt rather than committing her to a landfill site. Follow along as we transform this old canoe. The process is quite involved and labor intensive, however the final results are no less than outstanding.


1. Her present state prior to embarking on the transition process.


2. Exterior bilges indicating failed and degraded patchwork


Some fiberglass patches literally fall off the canoe due to inadequate preparation and improper application techniques.


3. After the removal of seats, thwart, decks and gunwales Colin and Hozayfa diligently embark on filling topline holes where the gunwales were originally installed.


4. This canoe received no fewer than 16 multi-layered fiberglass interior patches.


5. Exterior repairs taking place on the center keel where gaping holes once resided. The materials being installed by Zack is our proprietary 2-part Kevlar infused filler which creates a permanent bond and lasting strength to the affected area. 


6. Surface preparation combined with Kevlar fillers and intensive leveling makes for a sound surface to finish with. Hozayfa is hand-sanding the Kevlar surface areas; a very labor intensive process indeed.


7. Colin is applying a topical 2-part filler to aid in smoothing out underlying imperfections including gouges and fine cracks.


8. Exterior filling in place and ready to sand. There are many other steps we perform prior to exterior finishing, including applications of fine fillers to create a very smooth finish prior to painting. Becoming pretty is yet to happen.


9. Specialized 2-part epoxy primers are applied to ensure surface irregularities have been dealt with, and to provide a suitable surface for the exterior finish to bind to adequately.


10. After 2 full coats of epoxy primer and more sanding the exterior is wiped down, surface prepped, and custom linear marine finishes are applied. Here Zack is laying down the first of several coats of color using the tried and proven roll-and-tip method. No spray paint here!


11. Getting there! First coat is completed and will sit for two days before moving outdoors to harden prior to sanding and prepping for second coat.


12. Interior color is applied intermittently with the exterior finish. Once the finishes have hardened enough to work with, our proprietary scuppered ash gunwales are installed.


She's really beginning to take shape now!


13. Add some cherry decks, yoke, bootlaced seats, carry-handles, and several coats of spar varnish to the gunwales, decks and other hardware and we'll almost be there.


14. This exterior finish will require some time to harden enough outdoors in the fresh air and sun prior to transporting to her rightful owner.


15. Add some custom vinyl graphics and a wealth of photographs to highlight the completed project. She's the picture of health!


Now, you may ask if your small boat is worthy of such a restoration. Certainly, it comes with a price, and that is typical of any rebuild project. This project is as close to a worse-case scenario as we would see on a regular basis, but not always the case.

At BOATFIX.CA we are often finding small boats survive (what would have become a horrible demise) due to their history and the impact they've made on our families throughout the years. Chances are the canoe you may consider a restoration project was your grandparents, your uncle's, or your brother's. That small boat has heartwarming stories of its past... and that small boat may well become an heirloom piece for your children, and their children. A thought to ponder for the future.

Chris, Nancy, Zack & Colin Knight


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