- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

WAHPETON, N.D. (AP) - Doug and Lynnae Loeks of Wahpeton spent their summer “living canoes.” The couple, married for 39 years, has two homemade and uniquely designed canoes in their garage.

A third canoe, made like the others from western cedar and oak with additional black walnut provided by Lynnae’s 89-year-old uncle’s saw mill, was given to the Loeks’ daughter as a wedding present. The other two canoes are presents to their sons’ families and there’s enough material for a fourth. Like the others, it will be made without nails, screws or staples.

“This is all that we’ve done since July. It wasn’t what we had planned to do, but when he said that was what he would like to get finished, we went for that and did what we could and it took us longer than we thought, but we got it done,” Lynnae told The Daily News of Wahpeton (https://bit.ly/1NeDFUJ ).

A longtime carpenter who had to stop working for health reasons, Doug said he was “lured in real quick when I saw my first wood-stripped canoe” 40 years ago. He says he’d have to improve and get a different shop before selling any of his canoes commercially. Working in his basement and garage had its perks, like setting his own pace, but it did leave the house dusty.

“She leaves at 7:30 a.m. to go to work. I say goodbye and I come in here. Sometimes I get supper made in the day, but it doesn’t always happen. And then I work ‘til she comes home and we have supper. I may come out again, but I’m in here all day, putzing and trying different things. She comes home, helps me figure out some things and life is good,” said Doug, describing his average workday.

The Loeks worked together on designing the canoes, making them easily identifiable by their children. “She has a better view of that,” Doug said of Lynnae. The Internet and Ted Moores’ “Canoecraft,” which demonstrates how to make nearly 30 styles of canoes, as well as explaining how to make them for certain purposes and activities, were also used as guides.

“He started canoe building in the early to mid ‘60s, with his assistant Joan Barrett, and they took old canoes, tore them apart and that’s where they got the forms to mold their canoes,” Doug said.

“Canoecraft” includes pictures of Moores and Barrett’s canoe factory in Peterborough, Ontario.

“Someday … road trip? I’d like to go up there,” Doug said.

“They were pretty handy. We could call them with questions, like when we’d have mistakes. We made lots of mistakes. They had answers on how to fix all of those,” Lynnae said.

Lynnae says the Loeks’ neighbors have been stopping over and paying attention to their progress with the canoes. “They’ll go for a walk and circle up here and go again and get to see how things are going. That’s been kind of fun.” She’s also kept photographic documentation for her children of the making of all three canoes. The epoxying process alone has taken 415 red Solo cups, 74 paintbrushes and hundreds of rubber gloves.

“Through our married life, I did a lot of weekend work in construction,” Doug said. “Lynnae helped, she knew what I was talking about. When doing these canoes, we could communicate. She did pretty good.”


Information from: Wahpeton Daily News, https://www.wahpetondailynews.com

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