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Made in the West Island: Pierrefonds Community High School students sell handmade canoe

Click to play video: 'Students at West Island high school selling cedar canoe they built from scratch'
Students at West Island high school selling cedar canoe they built from scratch
WATCH: It has taken over 80 students and a number of years, but Pierrefonds Community High School has finally completed its 15-foot cedar canoe. Now, the hands-on project that's helped students flex their creative muscle, is for sale. Global's Olivia O'Malley reports – Oct 19, 2022

A West Island high school wants you to row, row, row their canoe. It has taken some 80 students and a number of years, but Pierrefonds Community High School (PCHS) has finally completed its 15-foot cedar canoe.

“The canoe is built upside down on a mould called the strong back, and we layer thin strips of cedar together once they’re completely covering the shape that you see. We cover that with fibreglass to make it waterproof,” said PCHS woodworking teacher Peter Oland.

The group project requires a few more steps and usually takes around one year to complete. But this canoe took three years of numerous Covid interruptions and multiple classes to finish.

“Canoes are essential to Canada. Our first nations travel our rivers and they’ve shared that knowledge with us. Canoes seem to be the right fit for a class project,” Oland told Global News

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The teacher only made his first canoe at his former school in 2016. The teacher saw it as a chance to learn something new.

Read more: Riverdale High School shop class builds its last canoe as students say goodbye

“What I really hope for my students is that they get the same thing and then they can take that idea of I can learn how to do anything and apply it to whatever they want to throughout their lifetime,” said Oland.

Secondary five student Christopher Lauzon said the project has given him a confidence boost.

“I know I’m able to do things now that I wasn’t able to do before. I build things. It’s amazing,” said Lauzon.

Read more: Family of Peterborough historian, canoeist donates $250,000 to new Canadian Canoe Museum

Oland’s students are now using their newfound skills to create projects on their own.

“I find it’s a great release from stress and I just get to come in here and feel happy and do what I love doing in this class,” said PCHS student Daeniel Gaetano.

The fruit of their labour, sits in the shop class, as inspiration for the time being. The canoe is for sale, it’s price tag is $3,500.

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“It’s not just some canoe made at a factory. It was made by hand by kids who really like what they’re doing,” said Lauzon.

Potential buyers are invited to attend the PCHS Open House on October 25 from 6-9 p.m.

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