Cut with perfectly symmetrical curved strips of light and dark cedar, Rodrigo Pampin’s polished canoe looks professional – and pricey.
And it would be at an outdoor recreation store. But the 17-year-old Lambrick Park student hand-crafted the effectively flawless 16-foot canoe from long old-growth cedar two-by-fours, a feat that is exceptionally rare, said Roger Conrod, a woodworking teacher with 37 years under his belt.
“I’ve had a lot of good students, but never a student so meticulous and who worked to such fine detail,” said Conrod, who is head of technical education at Lambrick. “It’s really unusual in this day and age to see a student put in the time in to achieve that level of detail.”
Pampin started working on the cedar-strip canoe about 13 months ago, machining precise grooves into each of the 60 boards at school, and joining them together at home. The Lambrick simply didn’t have the space for such a large project.
“For a couple of years I wanted to make a boat,” Pampin said. “I mainly worked on it after school and on weekends. I worked on it a lot.”
The soft-spoken Grade 12 student finished his masterpiece in October, including a paddle from leftover cedar, and has since tested its seaworthiness at Durrance and Thetis lakes.
“It was nice to see it not sink, and it handles quite nicely,” Pampin said smiling. “I haven’t done a lot of canoeing but I like how it felt on the water.”
Conrod said its difficult to overstate the quality of work, especially from a student with about three years of woodworking experience, all while at Lambrick. The teacher himself had bought the fine-grain old-growth years ago, and it had sat idle in the woodworking shop until Pampin’s project.
“Since I’ve been teaching I’ve seen perhaps 10 or 11 students of this caliber. This level of detail separates the men from the boys, or the apprentice from the master craftsman,” Conrod said.
“It’s such a marvelous job. It’s symmetrical all the way through. It’s exactly what this type of fine wood should be used for.”
Pampin isn’t sure what is next project will be, although he plans to make one more paddle for the canoe. For his passengers, that means no more free rides on the lake.