Media and Press Releases
For the historian, canoe enthusiast, or cottager
Focussing on the history of Peterborough’s Canadian Canoe Company, this beautifully illustrated and impeccably researched book takes readers from the pioneer days of canoe building in the Kawarthas through the glory days of the industry. As early as the 1860s, John Stephenson, William English, Thomas Gordon, and Dan Herald operated independent canoe-building businesses in and around Peterborough. In fact, the William English Canoe Company, a smaller competitor of both the Canadian Canoe Company and its main rival, the Peterborough Canoe Company, was one of the earliest canoe factories.
“What I like most about the book is the way Brown combines thoroughly researched business history with biographical information about those who founded and operated the canoe companies that put Peterborough on the map,” says John Summers, General Manager of the Canadian Canoe Museum. “His research and writing offer a vivid sense of the challenges involved in pioneering industrial-scale canoe building in the early years of the 20th century, and the book is a fascinating case study in Canadian business history.”
It tells a broader story too. From the 1880s through the first part of the 20th century, the fortunes of the canoe industry match the history of industrial growth and decline in the city. “That’s one of the most interesting realizations I came to,” says Brown, “just how many downtown industries there were in Peterborough in the early 1900s—and how many are gone now.” “All but Quaker have vanished,” he adds.
At the heart of the book, though, are the life stories of local entrepreneurs, like Canadian Canoe Company founder Arthur Tebb and his backer Felix Brownscombe. “They were upstarts, really,” Brown explains, “not exactly part of the Peterborough establishment, and they went up against some heavy hitters … Colonel James Z. Rogers, for one.”
Tales and pictures illustrating the rivalries and destinies of local canoe manufacturers will undoubtedly appeal to the historian on your gift list, as will the titbits about local canoe workshops and glimpses into the lives of famous canoe builders like Walter Walker. But there is a lot here for cottagers and paddlers too, for example, photographs of postcards showing how central the canoe was in recreational and romantic pursuits. (One postcard reads, “I’d like to paddle your canoe!”) And boat builders will like the reproduced catalogue pages and the information on popular canoe designs.
John Summers and author Ken Brown spoke briefly at the book launch, and various artefacts, including a Canadian Canoe Company canoe as well as maps and illustrations collected by the author, were be on display.
*Note that photographs are available to illustrate the material in coloured type. See details below.
About the Author
Ken Brown has practiced public accounting in Peterborough since 1974. To bring relief from his exciting life as an accountant he has, over the years, developed a number of other interests. He is the author of The Peterborough Potteries and The Invention of the Board Canoe; a former director of the Canadian Canoe Museum, the Peterborough Historical Society, and Showplace; a founding director and president of the Kawartha Jazz Society; and an avid cottager. Ken married into the Peterborough canoeing tradition. His wife, Kathleen, is the great granddaughter of Canadian Canoe Company secretary-treasurer Felix Brownscombe, who figures prominently in book.
The book can be purchased at the following locations:
AVAILABLE ILLUSTRATIONS AND DOWNLOADS
Front Cover of The Canadian Canoe Company and the Early Peterborough Canoe Factories
Author Ken Brown
Aerial view showing the industries of downtown Peterborough, circa 1918
Canadian Company Canoe
First Canadian Canoe Company factory and Felix Brownscombe
Peterborough Canoe Company baseball team and canoe builder Walter Walker
The William English Canoe Company
Canadian Canoe Company factory workshop and Morley Lyle, circa 1890
© Cover to Cover Publication Services 2011