Old style freight canoe taking shape in Fort Kent garage
FORT KENT, Maine — Long before the roads and railways reached far into northern Maine, rivers and waterways were the major transportation routes connecting communities with the outside world.
Generations of rivermen navigated those waters using all manner of canoes, bateaux, barges and crafts carrying goods in and out of the area. These days most river traffic is recreational but a bit of that history is slowly taking shape in a Fort Kent garage this winter.
Andre Landry, longtime river rat and registered Maine Guide, is building an old style, square-sterned freight canoe based on the designs used long ago.
“I never thought this is something I’d be doing,” Landry said this week with a laugh. “For me, a canoe has to be pointed at both ends.”
But Landry, who’s built seven canoes over the last 20 years, said he’d been toying with the idea of a square-sterned vessel for about a year as they are a bit more stable on lakes and his wife Norma really wanted her own canoe.
“Norma really wants to do the lakes,” Andre Landry, who has already built canoes for each of their two daughters, said. “Everything I’ve built in the past have been for running rivers where things can get shallow or you can run into low water.”
When complete, the freight canoe will be 22 feet long and 50 inches wide at its beam with a 27-inch transom.
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