I started canoeing as a kid in the ’70’s. My dad had a 17 foot aluminum canoe that we would use for fishing on various inland lakes near our home. We didn’t do any canoe trips but we did a lot of fishing. I spent some more time canoeing in Boy Scouts and then finally went on my first trip to the Boundary Waters with some friends in 1987. We rented a boat, just a standard issue aluminum freighter, from Sawbill Outfitters. It was the beginning of an annual tradition of canoe trips.
We survived the first and subsequent trips well enough but aluminum freighters weren’t very satisfying to paddle. There had to be better boats. I did my research and finally bought my own at Canoecopia. The boat I settled on was a Mad River Explorer. In those days there was one size, 16 foot. I selected the sand colored Royalex version with dark stained ash gunwales and cane seats. It was and still is a beautiful boat. (Here’s an excerpt from an old Mad River Canoe catalog from approximately the year I bought mine.)