Canoe bar top

By Ray Ford

Nowhere to put your canoe? Make it a bar top

Canoe bar

Photo by Doug Taylor

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Two canoeists drag their canoe into a bar. “What can I get you?” asks the barman.

“I’d like an ale. My friend will have lager,” says the first paddler.

“What about your canoe there?”

“It needs a porter.”

See, porter is a kind of beer, and it’s also a guy who…Oh, never mind.

Just hope you won’t hear groaners like that at Doug and Adrienne Taylor’s place, where there’s often a canoe — (if not a canoeist) draped over the bar.

The Thousand Islands cottagers created their unique watering hole when Doug built a bar for the couple’s wedding reception in their Windsor backyard. Looking for a place to store a 16-foot fibreglass canoe between local canoeing trips and cottage visits, Doug decided the bar (already equipped with a cooler, taps, and space for a beer keg) could do double duty. He installed two cedar 2×4 uprights on the bar, added 2×2 crosspieces to hold the canoe, and steadied it with 5/4×6 diagonal braces.

When the canoe is atop its cradle, it’s high enough that the Taylors’ 6’5″ neighbour, Stuart Pearson, won’t knock his noggin on the bow or stern, yet Doug and a helper can still reach up and remove the craft. Secured with nylon ratchet straps, the canoe has “been through some fairly heavy windstorms, and it hasn’t moved,” Doug says.

“When I came up with the idea, I didn’t know if it would look completely ridiculous. But I tried it out, and it looks good,” he adds. Festooned with lights, the Taylors’ innovative canoe/sunshade definitely attracts attention.

And there are worse ways to spend time near an overturned canoe—say, flailing in a whirlpool beneath some rapids, or treading water while hoping to flag down a passing pontoon boat. On dry land at the Taylors’, at least, lifejackets are strictly optional.

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