One of the best parts of doing what I do is the great people I meet. Sometimes it’s a old friends who I canoe and camp with often, other times it’s new people to which I get to introduce myself and the outdoors. Other times, it’s other outdoor industry professionals – often that I’ve never met in person. Some of them are especially awesome.
Pictured above is my paddle. Regular readers remember that I made this paddle in a course run by W. Bruce Smith Paddles (if not, you can read about it here). The last thing I wrote about the experience was that I wanted to have my logo burned onto it, and was actively seeking for someone to do it. After a few searches lead to dead ends, I wrote up that post the way it was. I’m so glad I did because shortly after that post, I got a message from my new favourite person: Jill Ellis of Adanac Paddles.
After reading the post, Jill sent me a simple message:
“I can burn your logo on your paddle…am a professional :-)…msg me.”
I can’t tell you how happy that made me. Finally, someone could and was willing to do it. She detailed what she needed to do and told me not to worry, she’d be gentle. (It was already oiled, which caused a bit of a problem, but nothing she couldn’t handle, obviously.) We quickly negotiated a price (she’s quite reasonable), and I shipped the paddle down to Chatham.
So who is this Jill Ellis? Well, aside from being a kick-ass paddle burner, she’s a maker of fine paddles, specializing in Greenland kayak paddles through her company Adanac Paddles. Have a look, they’re gorgeous. Interestingly, they’re being continuously tested Down Under by an avid/famous kayaker named the “Fat Paddler”. Check out his reviews and you’ll know instantly how good Jill’s paddles must be. She also makes canoe paddles, including a voyageur style “Henri La Pointe“, which I hear is currently being tested on the old trade routes from the Athabasca to Slave Lake (to help raise funds for the Not-For-Profit Watter-Matters.org). Adanac also makes some unique and pretty cool looking paddle booties. Obviously I was in great hands. And when she sent me the first picture of my logo burned onto my paddle I was ecstatic! But here’s the thing: This wasn’t even the best part.
Soon after she sent me the first picture, she asked me whether or not she could do something on the other side of the paddle, suggesting at first a loon. Of course it was, but I asked her not to go to too much trouble (I didn’t want to bother her too much). She must have changed her mind on the loon, as you can see from the picture above.
Yep, that’s Nancy. Jill decided she would immortalize Nancy on the back. Well you can imagine how much I I liked that! Everyone I’ve shown it to – and believe me, I’ve been showing it off a lot – has asked me whether I’m going to actually use it, thinking it’s too nice now to put up against the rigors of portaging trips. I mean, take a look at the detail! First off, that’s the beauty of burning instead of painting, it lasts a bit better that way. Second, I’ve put a lot of effort, not to mention Jill and Bruce, not to take this paddle out to great places. It’d be like keeping a Ferrari in the garage because you don’t want to get it dirty. Finally, they’ll come a day – one that I don’t really want to think about right now – when Nancy won’t be with me on these trips, and as Jill herself put it “when she is gone, she will still be with him on every trip!”. (Talented and thoughtful, that Jill.)
The above picture is the one in which the back of the paddle is inspired. You can tell just how much work was done to get the fine details from this picture onto the paddle, especially capturing Nancy’s look. I found it particularly nice choice. At the risk of over-doing the sentimentality, this picture contains my old paddle and canoe, both of which were given to me by a dear friend, and are included in the engraving. The paddles needed replacing, and so I made a new one, but wasn’t without some irrational guilt for doing so (Steve would definitely have thought it silly to hang on to these things for no other reason). Now, in a way, the new one has at least a piece of the old.
So I just want to give a huge thanks to Jill for doing this for me. I’m very, very happy with the paddle and can’t wait to get out there and use it, and maybe show it off a little more. You’re going to make a lot of people very jealous this summer, Jill. Oh, and one last thing: Thanks for not including the toilet paper from the picture.
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