At the beginning Sanborn Canoe Co. was a summer project with a few buddies to craft a cedar-strip canoe to take on our annual canoe trips. Our dreams lay more in open waters and camaraderie in building something together than ever starting a business. It took us that entire summer, working on nights and weekends to finish the canoe. With some of the extra cedar we crafted a few paddles and hit the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for our fall trip. The canoe didn’t sink and we really enjoyed using paddles that we had crafted ourselves.

From that starting point cousins Zak Fellman and Todd Randall set out on the journey that has become Sanborn Canoe Co. One of our early inspirations was our Grandpa telling us stories about making canoes and paddles back in the sixties with local youths. So we kind of like to think that we’re actually a 50-plus year old company. We were lucky enough a couple years ago, with our grandpa, to track down one of those old canoes and some of the paddles that he crafted and we display them proudly in our woodshop.

In the fall of 2012, with our wilderness paddles still our bread-and-butter, we launched our Artisan Painted Paddle line. Inspired, in part, from the hey-day of the popularity of canoeing, when the voyageurs travelled the landscape of the new world by canoe, trading and carving out a new culture all their own. Paintings and tales of that era show elaborately painted canoes and paddles that inspire us to carry on that tradition.

Over the past few years we’ve begun the journey to fill out an explorer’s line of goods crafted around the culture of the Canoeist. Each of our gear items has both feet firmly planted in the canoe world with a beckoning hand or two introducing new folks to our world of canoeing as well. So if you pick up one of our wool beanies(inspired by the wool toques the french fur traders always wore) or our rugged leather suspenders or hudson bay camp axe(yeah, that’s inspired by the voyageur era as well) we hope you’ll feel the pull to pack your bag and hit the woods and rivers and lakes that beckon.