An exceedingly pleasant Sunday morning, (clear sky and agreeable temperatures), found the entire editorial and business staff of the Paper Boater on the NYS Thruway bound for near-by Buffalo to witness the launching of a paper canoe built by the Native American Magnet School in Buffalo, NY. According to a teacher at the school, Charles Knier, the canoe resulted from discussions about what a canoe could be built of other than plywood or other traditional materials. Somehow the Mr. Knier was alerted to paper as an alternative material. (I take no credit; they figured it out themselves. I think someone had discovered Bishop's book on "The Voyage of the Paper Canoe.")
The Buffalo Native American Magnet-School runs a canoe building program based on the Mike O'Brien "6-Hour Canoe" design. Groups of students build a number of these canoes (which were also launched during the Saturday event.) The craftsmanship was excellent and the pride of ownership by builder and teacher was evident. We are told that a companion program is offered for family canoe building through Buffalo State's Program for Nautical Studies . (i.e. bring your family; build a canoe.)
But to return to paper. The paper canoe was built primarily by students Kerwin Smith and Robert, (Freddy) Williams with lots of help from the rest of the class. They built a female mold for a "Wee Lassie" design from Clark Craft. Into it they applied 5 complete city editions of the local newspaper, using epoxy as the binding agent, (2.5 gallons!) The canoe was made completely of paper. Rolled tubes were used for ribs, gunwales, and other structural elements. The photo at the left shows one of the enthusiastic builders on an inaugural paddle.
The completed canoe measured in at:
27" beam, and a weight of
The launch was recorded by the local TV media and of course your near-by Paper Boater correspondent. The pleasure of the day was marred only by learning that the Magnet School canoe program was in danger of folding due to a "materials" grant no longer being available. The Magnet School project was assisted by Federal and NYS funds (as well as some local money).