For many a young person throughout the 1960s and 70s, making your own recreational equipment was the mantra of the day. Lacking the financial means to purchase finished equipment, they made their own from kits that were available from popular brands of the day, like Heathkit radios, Frostline clothing and camping gear, and in the case of Tim Miller and his brother Steve of Florence, Wisconsin, Trailcraft Canoes.
Tim has now donated his square stern “Trailblazer Canoe” to the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum, along with the original purchase documents, including twenty-five pages or assembly instructions and a “Canoeing Basics” pamphlet. Tim built the canoe in 1966 along with his brother Steve from a kit they purchased from Trailcraft of Glasco, Kansas, for $58.88.
“I would like to take a camping trip with you and dad, up into Canada with the station wagon, tent, and boat in tow. We could have a real cool time just fishing and hiking for a week or so,” Steve wrote his brother to entice him to join in building a canoe with him for a “summer project.” The canoe was used twice and then stored in a garage for the next 56 years. In September 2022 Tim met with WCHM Executive Director Jed Malischke to transfer the canoe to the museum as a representation of the canoe kits that opened the door to many a young person’s adventurism.
Just as the aluminum canoe replaced the wooden canoe at the end of the Second World War, in the 1970s plastics technology transformed the canoe industry and made the aluminum canoe obsolete. Uniroyal had devised a vulcanized sheet laminate at their R&D facility in Stoughton, Wisconsin, which they envisioned for use in the automotive industry. But it was never applied there, and eventually became Royalex, of which tens of thousands of canoes were fabricated by myriad American manufacturers until the mid-2000s.
Jeff Mueller from Edgerton, Wisconsin, is the lucky winner of the 2022 WCHM canoe raffle. Jeff was a very early ticket buyer, making his annual contribution during Canoecopia in Madison back in late February. “Canoecopia is a big event in my household,” explained Jeff when he arrived at the museum to pick up his new canoe, “and getting a few raffle tickets at the WCHM booth is always on my list of things to do while there.”
The Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum (WCHM) will host its “Canoe & Brew” dinner event from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Sunday September 25th, but at a new venue this year. The Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary will be the site for this third annual celebration in 2022. Despite the new venue, many features of the event will be similar to previous years. Prior to the dinner, guests can enjoy a brew or two from Round Man Brewing and discuss their beer sampling with the brew masters. Or maybe you will prefer a wine sample or two from Clarity Wine Shop. There will also be a meet and greet, live music, displays of some of the museum’s new collections pieces, and a chance to win some of the extra raffle prizes we’ll have for the day. It all leads up to a country style dinner catered by The Roost, followed by a short post-dinner program and the annual canoe raffle drawing.
WCHM has been working with Full Tilt Marketing to increase the number of visitors through the exhibit hall, and so far the 2022 numbers look promising. At the Fourth of July break the exhibit hall had recorded 200 visitors for the year so far, a 42% increase over the 141 recorded at the same time last year. Averaging about seven visitors a day, near the end of July the tally was still 4% above the previous year, 289 visitors in 2022 vs 278 in 2021 (these numbers do not include the hundreds of uncountable visitors during the opening day open house).
The Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum is once again making plans to celebrate Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Day on the Saturday of Memorial weekend from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. This free event marks the season opening of the museum and will include open house in the museum exhibit hall, ongoing activities in the canoe workshop, live music and food and beverage outdoors in the beer garden, a silent auction and canoe raffle, and of course the Canoe & Wooden Boat Show. Complicating the boat show this year will be the major road construction that is taking place in Spooner this summer.
Opening day of fishing season in Wisconsin is a big deal, and for over 50 years has been marked by the Wisconsin Governor’s Fishing Opener in Northwest Wisconsin. The 56th annual event will be held in 2022 on May 6th and 7th on Shell Lake in Washburn County. The Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum has been invited to participate in the event and provide a booth display at several scheduled activities, including the VIP Banquet on Friday and the Family Fishing Day at Shell Lake Memorial Park on Saturday. In addition, the museum exhibit hall and workshop will be featured as part of a tour of area attractions by travel writers and media that will be attending the opener. More information about Family Fishing Day and the Governor's Fishing Opener can be found at https://fb.me/e/1RDSF8i3m.
The remarkable 85 day journey of the first two women to canoe the 2,000 mile route from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay will be the subject of a presentation and book signing by author Natalie Warren at the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum in Spooner (312 N Front St) on Thursday, April 7, 2022. The talk and signing begins at 7:00 pm and is free and open to the public. The museum will be open starting at 6:00 pm for a pre-presentation reception and exhibit hall tours.
Spring is on the way and it’s time to get ready for Canoe Heritage Day and the 12th annual Canoe & Wooden Boat Show on Saturday May 28, 2022, at the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum in Spooner WI. Now is the time to make plans to be an exhibitor and display your canoe, wooden boat, or other canoe related items of interest. WCHM invites participants for this one day free event that will also include museum tours and open house, the unveiling of new displays, ongoing activities in the canoe workshop, and live music and food and beverage in the beer garden.
A recent fundraising campaign for the WCHM Perpetuity Endowment Fund was completed on January 31st, and all indications are that the results have far exceeded all expectations. The campaign began on December 1st with a goal of raising $30,000. $10,000 has already been pledged by a generous donor as a match, and another $10,000 committed by the WCHM Board from the WCHM general funds, if the first $10,000 could be raised from the WCHM membership.
The WCHM canoe trailer recently traveled to Sturtevant WI to pick up two Joseph Lucius canoes from Kathy Strasser at School Days Mall Antiques. Kathy inherited these wonderful examples of Lucius work from the estate of Henry Lamont, and is now donating them to the WCHM Collections. The two canoes are 15 foot and 12 foot representations of Lucius’ iconic Brule River Guide boats. Lamont acquired the canoes from his uncle, Wilmer Baker of Gordon WI who purchased them in the 1950s from Lucius. They have been stored indoors for many years, are in wonderful condition, and come with original paddles, poles, purchase receipts and hand written letters from Joe. WCHM member Marty Aitken came from Racine to help get the canoes down from the third floor of an old school building. The canoes are now back in Spooner in WCHM storage.
It’s been nearly five years since the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum established the WCHM Perpetuity Endowment Fund “to ensure the financial stability and continued operations of WCHM for the long term.” Established by an initial fundraising campaign that netted $30,000, it has since grown by 50% while being managed by the Wisconsin Historical Foundation, an arm of the Wisconsin Historical Society. “We need to continue growing this fund,” says WCHM Executive Director Jed Malischke, “if we want to make sure the museum is still here in ten, twenty, thirty years and beyond.”
At their recent meeting on July 21, the WCHM Board of Directors approved the appointment of Benson Gray to fill a vacant Director-At-Large position. The seat had been vacant since the passing of Jim Czajkowski in the spring and has two years remaining in its term. “I would like to welcome Benson to our board,” writes WCHM President Richard Taylor, “We very much appreciate his desire to support our mission to preserve and display objects and skills related to the history, use, and construction of canoes in North America.” Gray was nominated for the board seat by current WCHM Director-At-Large Dan Miller.
The Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) and Wisconsin Council for Local History (WCLH) have announced that 19 affiliated local historical societies will receive a total of $11,098 through their 2021 mini-grant program. The Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum (WCHM) in Spooner, an affiliate of the WHS, is one of the recipients and will receive a mini-grant to support its PastPerfect Conversion project.
Jim Klosterman from Tamarack, Minnesota, is the lucky winner of the 2021 WCHM canoe raffle. His winning ticket, which he purchased while visiting the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum this summer, was drawn by WCHM President Rich Taylor during the post-dinner program at the second annual Canoe & Brew event held on Sunday September 26th at Pinebrook Farm. The event marks the last regular season open day for the museum, and the Canoe & Brew event celebrates the conclusion of another successful year for the museum as well as the annual canoe raffle drawing.
The Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum (WCHM) is planning to celebrate its 11th anniversary with another “Canoe & Brew” dinner event from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Sunday September 26th. This new event was first produced last year in collaboration with two prominent local businesses, Round Man Brewing and Pine Brook Farm, and both are returning to support the party this year.
Prior to the dinner, guests can enjoy a brew or two from Round Man Brewing and discuss their beer sampling with the brew master. Then stop by the meet and greet tent and visit with naturalist Haley Appleman from the Cable Natural History Museum, check out some of the museum’s new collections pieces, and take a chance on all the extra raffle prizes we’ll have for the day. Or just sit and enjoy the music of Les Fils du Voyageur and the beautiful autumn rural setting at Pine Brook Farm.
The Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum in Spooner (WI) is planning another cedar-strip building class for the fall. This past May two teams of novices each built a cedar-strip canoe in the museum workshop, and took it home after completing a ten day course on canoe building. "The class went so well we decided to try another session this year with the same instructor," says WCHM Executive Director Jed Malischke.
Josh Tolkan, graduate of the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building in Port Townsend, Washington, and Artisan in Development at North House Folk School in Grand Marias, Minnesota, will be teaching a Cedar Strip Canoe Building class at WCHM in the fall of 2021.
The Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum recently took possession of a 17 foot Grumman aluminum canoe with hull #438B-5-17. Originally purchased by their father, the canoe was a donation from Steve Vizanko of Bayfield WI and his sister Debbie Kaminski of Saint Paul MN. Built in Bethpage NY, which puts it prior to 1952, it is a typical post-war piece, constructed just like an aircraft with thousands of flush rivets and airtight bulkheads. One unusual feature is an original cedar floor insert that is still in remarkable condition, as is the entire craft. All in all, it is a fine example in the timeline of canoe history. WCHM thanks the Vizanko family for their donation of this canoe and its story.
After cancelling its opening day events last year, and remaining closed throughout 2020, the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum (WCHM) in Spooner, Wisconsin, is now making plans for opening the 2021 summer season with its 11th annual Canoe & Wooden Boat Show, to be held in conjunction with Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Day from 10 am to 4 pm on May 29, 2021. This one day free event will also include a museum open house, the unveiling of new displays, ongoing activities in the canoe workshop, and live music and food and beverage in the beer garden.
The Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum will have a booth at the 2021 virtual Canoecopia on March 12-14. This is a great opportunity for all our far flung canoe enthusiasts to attend an event that may have been too far away in the past. Usually held in Madison (WI), Canoecopia is the largest canoe and kayak event in the world. We hope you’ll all take advantage and also visit our booth while you’re there. We’re planning some special treats for the weekend.
The Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum has for the first time held its annual election by mail, and consequently had its largest voter participation in its ten years. Forty-nine votes were cast and four incumbents were re-elected to new three year terms on the WCHM Board of Directors. Those incumbents (and their vote totals) were Jamie Dunn (48) of Spooner WI, Dan Miller (45) of Cape Vincent NY, Liz Vollmer-Buhl (44) of Eugene OR, and Jim Czajkowski (44) of Wauzeka WI.
The first ever WCHM Canoe & Brew event turned out to be a wonderful day, despite the ongoing pandemic that has caused the cancellation of so many other events this year. Careful planning of pandemic precautions worked well to make everyone feel safe and comfortable. We want to thank Round Man Brewing and Pine Brook Farm for helping us host this new (annual?) event. Also thanks to Led Fils du Voyageur for the social hour music (and serving us dinner) and Second Wind Stringband for the tunes during dinner.
And the winner of the canoe raffle is ...drum roll please... Jim Hart of Wadsworth Illinois! Congratulations Jim, we’re glad to see such a great supporter of WCHM win the 2020 raffle. He’ll be mulling over which canoe to claim in the next few months and we’ll get it to him sometime before the spring season.
The Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum (WCHM) is planning to celebrate its 10th anniversary with a first annual dinner celebration from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Sunday September 27th. Dubbed “Canoe & Brew,” this new event will be in collaboration with two prominent local businesses, Round Man Brewing and Pine Brook Farm, and will feature a fabulous country chicken and rib dinner in a wide open farm setting. “One of the great attributes of Pine Brook Farm is the large event space they have, both indoor and outdoor,” says event organizer Debbie Koehn. “We’ll be utilizing their wedding barn, so we’ll have plenty of room to social distance and we’ll be making plans accordingly to hold a safe event.” To insure safe space, the event will be limited to 50 attendees. Reservations are highly recommended.
The rich and long history of North America's most important watercraft, the canoe, will be the subject of a presentation and book signing by author Mark Neuzil at the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum in Spooner (312 N Front St) on Friday, January 17, 2020. The talk and signing begins at 7:30 pm and is free and open to the public.
Neuzil is professor and chair of the journalism program at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a frequent speaker and writer on environmental issues and is the author or co-author of eight books, including “Canoes: A Natural History in North America” (with Norman Sims). He has worked for the Associated Press, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and was a licensed wilderness guide and summer park ranger in his younger days.
Greg Elonen from Superior (WI) is the lucky winner of the 2019 WCHM canoe raffle. His winning ticket, which he purchased while attending the WCHM Canoe & Wooden Boat Show on May 25th, was drawn by Vicki Shaffer of Edward Jones Investment Advisors in Spooner during a ceremony at the museum on Sunday September 29th at 3:00 PM. It was the last regular season open day for the museum, and the ceremony was held during a small party celebrating the conclusion of the season as well as the annual canoe raffle drawing.