Our northern-most state and lauded by some as among the most beautiful.
Our friend Bill Miller, from Canada, just went to Alaska to deliver a canoe he made this summer. He took the pictures while in Alaska.
Miller Canoes was started by Bill’s grandfather, William Victor Miller, in 1925.
The pictured canoe was a 19 foot canoe with a 36 inch beam and very flat bottom. It was an ideal canoe to pole upstream back in the days before motors!
Bill returned home in the fall of 1972 to help his dad in the shop. Bill is the third generation Miller to make canoes!
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time on my grandfather’s farm In Nictau, NB Nictau was a busy place in those days. It had a hotel, a store, school, post office, an airport and a canoe factory! Today Nictau just has 11 people, no store, no hotel, no post office, no airport, just the canoe shop! My grandfather started building canoes here in 1925. I came up here to help him with the faming and on rainy days we built canoes. In the early days my job was to keep the shop cleaned up, as I got older I got to help with making paddles, then caining canoe seats then when I was 15, I started making canoes too. It is hard to describe the feelings of building a canoe from scratch. the smell of the cedar shavings mixed with varnish and paint, linseed oil all made for great ambiance. Nothing compared with canoeing itself though gliding over the water, waiting for a large salmon to take my fly, the sound of rippling waters, the large splash of a salmon rising out of the water. Having an occasional deer, moose or bear swim the river was like icing on the cake!
Hand crafted wooden canoes are made from mostly white cedar ribs and planking, eastern white spruce for the gunwhales, various hardwoods like ash, oak or maple for the decks, thwarts and seats. the canoe is covered with either canvas or fiberglass. It then has three coats or more of marine spar varnish, and a final coat of green paint. The early canoes my grandfather built are still in use, so we do not know how long they will last! My first canoe is now 52 years old and is still in great shape! How many plastic canes out there still in use after 50 years ???
I have my own portable sawmill to make all the parts I need to build canoes, and the farm is large enough to supply most of the trees I need. My grandfather also was an outfitter, guiding sportsmen who came hunting and fishing. Those early canoes were needed to take the sportsmen up river to where the big game was. They were impressed with my grandfathers canoes and often bought one to take home with them. Having satisfied customers was the best way to advertise, and soon it was full time canoe building and less outfitting. When my grandfather died in 1963, his youngest son Jamie took over the outfitting and canoe building. He died in 1971, and I returned home to carry on the tradition. I was working on Cape Cod for the Woods Hole steamboat authority, doing marine electrical engineering work on 4 ferry boats.
Here are a few of the canoes I make.
This is my first canoe. built when I was 15. It is still in use.
Check out Bill Miller’s website – www.millercanoes.com