“When we started this project, our goal was to make one canoe and some paddles to make it go,” Todd Randall of Sanborn Canoe told us. It started with a conversation with their grandfather, who had built canoes in the 60’s for boy scouts and for kids to take out into the woods. “With that inspiration, we set to work and quickly discovered we weren’t half bad at making paddles,” he told us. From there, it was just a matter of seeing where that paddle-making could take them.
“A good paddle is largely a thing of personal preference, but there are a few things we think matter,” Todd told us, “It should be light enough to not wear you out over a long day of paddling and strong enough so you can push without worry.” While paddles primarily function as tools, Todd and co-founder Zak want their creations to meld functionality and art.
“We primarily use cedar in our paddles because it combines all of these things: it’s light, strong, and beautiful,” he explained.
An ideal day includes paddling on calm water. One that’s stuck in Todd’s mind was one spent in the Boundary Waters a few years ago—it started with a hike to a hidden trout lake (with their canoe on their shoulders) with the afternoon spent drifting over a deep hole, pulling up fish for dinner.
“Paddling is a great pastime in and of itself,” Todd told us, “However, in combination with a line in the water, a fire crackling happily, the laughter of friends and a full belly, paddling becomes a part of a life well-lived.”
Photos by Collin Hughes