There have been a lot of busy days in the shop behind Rick Quipp’s house in Hope, B.C. It was just a few years ago when he got serious about building racing canoes.
“My goal was to bring it back to my reserve, the canoe racing, the canoe culture,” Quipp said.
And now the phone has been ringing off the hook with orders from First Nation racing clubs throughout the Fraser Valley.
“This one is only an hour away, maybe, two,” said Quipp pointing to a nearly completed canoe.
It’s been tough to keep up with demand. Quipp and his crew have another 12 canoes to make after the three he’s currently working on are finished.
“Single, doubles, six-man, 11-man, ocean canoes,” said Arthur Humphreys, another canoe builder who is helping out.
Quipp started building to promote a healthy lifestyle for younger generations. And it’s helped bring the Cheam community together
“Life, culture, history, family,” said Xótxwes of the Cheam First Nation. “As soon as you have one you get that bond.”
These are champion canoes. Quipp’s nephew Jonathon Prest won practically every race he entered this year. Quipp is quick to point out that it’s all of the training he does, but there seems to be something special in the design of his cedar strip canoes.
“How do you make a fast canoe? One elder told me to look at the belly of a fish, study the fish,” Quipp said.
Quipp never thought he would be this busy.
His goal has grown into something so much more.