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Community-built birch bark canoe launched at Peterborough Lift Lock canal

Lance Anderson, Peterborough This Week
October 3

PETERBOROUGH —  A perfect fall morning greeted Chuck Commanda and Stephen Hunter as they launched their birch bark canoe at the Peterborough Lift Lock canal.

Under sunny skies and watchful eyes of community members, Commanda and Hunter tested their canoe which took them, and an army of helpers, a little over two weeks to build inside the Canadian Canoe Museum.

“Today was pretty amazing,” says Commanda. “Normally we encounter more leaks and make some pretty fancy patch work (but) today we only found two (leaks) which is a good thing. You never know what these things have in store for you. There could have been a hundred leaks.”

Commanda is from Kitigan Zibi, Quebec and reached out to the canoe museum back in May with an idea to build a birch bark canoe. Two canoes he worked on with his grandparents are currently housed at the museum.

Funding came in through a variety of sources to make the project possible including Canada 150, the Rotary Club Peterborough and Kawarthas, Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations, Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough and Laidlaw Foundation.

Commanda and Hunter were brought in a little over two weeks to begin the project. Along the way, hundreds of people helped out including a group students whom Commanda mentored through the process.

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