Several years ago I won a 12-foot Sportspal canoe at the Owen Sound Salmon Spectacular. It was a great little boat that allowed Darrell and I to get out on the water wherever, and whenever, we wanted. We took it to all our favorite local lakes, used it to drift down the Grand River during the Grand River Bass Derby, and put it into the Elora Gorge many summer evenings after work to have a quick fish. As the years passed we were able to buy Luma, our 12-foot aluminum boat, and she quickly replaced the little canoe for our fishing outings. With Luma we could take all the tackle and anything else we wanted, never worrying about the weight. We used the canoe less and less until I decided to sell her one day.
Since selling the old canoe, Darrell and I have often talked about replacing her. We wanted something that we could use for camping trips, something stronger, and something with a lot more room. At boat shows we would look at the canoes on display and re-visit the “should we buy a canoe?” debate. We researched various companies, different models, and different options, but a new canoe remained on the backburner.
Then we moved.
We moved and found ourselves in the middle of a lot of fishable water. Many of the small towns around here have ponds stocked with trout and brimming with bass. The Saugeen River and its tributaries are everywhere we go. And then there are the small lakes that receive very little fishing pressure thanks to the difficulties of launching even a small aluminum boat. But a canoe…well, a canoe would fit in all of these great places and give us access to more fishing opportunities. It would be a great way to see the beautiful area we live in.
Finding a canoe became more urgent.
There are many great canoe companies out there, producing boats for the novice paddler to the advanced, and everything in between. I am not a strong canoeist and normally follow Darrell’s lead, so I didn’t want anything that would require much skill to stay upright in. Durability was also important, since we always consider the chance of landing a great fish to be more important than avoiding a scratch in the boat. And following that, we needed something that wouldn’t be a problem to repair. The new canoe had to be light enough for portaging but big enough to hold fishing gear and camping gear should we take it for a trip. We wanted to buy local if at all possible – not just buy it from a local outlet, but buy something that was made locally.
Our research lead us to The Holy Cow Canoe Company. We knew they were a local company – we had seen the sign outside of Acton (Ontario) for many years and knew they had recently relocated to a shop outside of Guelph. Holy Cow was one of the companies we had researched a few years ago and knew they had many great options available. Their Algonquin Prospector model had been used for canoe rentals at Fairy Lake and we often saw them ferrying paddlers around with ease, showing surprising stability when novice paddlers made questionable moves. But what sealed the deal for me were the reviews I found online, praising the excellent customer service.
Darrell and I decided to to look through the Factory Specials page on the Holy Cow Canoe website. A clearance canoe with cosmetic blemishes sounded right up our alley. After looking through the specs, model descriptions, and material choices, we settled on a 16’6″ Ultra Glass Algonquin Prospector. The max weight capacity of the 16’6″ was exactly what we were looking for at 1100lbs. And while the 12lbs lighter Kevlar version sounded pretty nice, we opted for the ultra-glass material, knowing that our fishing habits are likely to drag it into places that could be rough on a boat. The price difference between the two materials also factored into the decision (Kevlar is more expensive). We found the exact canoe we wanted and emailed the company to make arrangements.
On Saturday, we arrived at the shop to find our beautiful new canoe waiting for us. Gulam at Holy Cow helped us load it onto the car and gave us a lesson in how to properly tie it on. We’ve transported canoes before, but I learned a lot on the weekend and feel far more confident about going somewhere with the canoe on the car (the old Sportspal fit in the bed of the truck). Considering that we drove home in winds gusting to 70km/h and the canoe never shifted, I’d say Gulam’s technique and tips are spot on. Before we left we were filled in on the warranty for the canoe, tips for using it properly, and all sorts of useful information. I cannot stress enough how wonderful The Holy Cow Canoe Company was to deal with.
Now she’s home, our lovely new canoe. I’ve never wanted winter to end more than I do right now. There are so many places I want to put this boat into. There’s a little lake up the road from us that we’ve been wanting to fish – we’ll be heading in there as soon as possible. We’re going to have a lot of fun with this new canoe!