Graham became inspired to build wooden canoes after reading The Survival of the Bark Canoe by John McPhee which, many years on is still one of his favourite books. Canoe building is not really a lone effort, so the rest of the family, Susan, James, Daniel and Sarah, were drafted in to help bend ribs or stoke the fire for the steam box. Friend Martin also joined the team and contributed hours by the hundred to build the original Peterborough form and the first couple of canoes.
Graham’s efforts became known through his articles in Canoeist magazine in the UK, and Paddler and Wooden Canoe in the States, and later through his books on paddlemaking; Making Canoe Paddles in Wood, Canoe Paddles, written with David Gidmark and published in Canada, and 100 Canoe Paddle Designs, which appeared in 2015.
Our philosophy is that wood-canvas canoes and traditional paddles must be usable under severe conditions, and not simply displayed on Sunday afternoons. After all, many of the wildest regions of Canada were explored with this type of equipment. Our Peterboroughs have performed well in some rough places such as the Tweed and even the upper Dane in Staffordshire, not to mention landing on windswept rocky shores on the Scottish lochs.
Graham’s other passion is bouldering, and he is co-author (with son Daniel) of the quirky boulderer’s guide High over Buxton. His ultimate sport would be canoe-bouldering, and his all-time favourite trip was paddling out in his wood-canvas Peterborough with Dan to a small island in a fjord in Norway, with bouldering gear, to discover and climb some great boulder problems.
The name Moosehead comes from a chapter in Thoreau’s Maine Woods, one of the books that got Graham started, about an inspiring series of trips by birchbark canoe, one of which crossed Moosehead Lake.