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École Stanley Knowles students are
making a connection with one of the tools that helped establish Canada as a
country: the canoe paddle.
Students have been staying after
school to participate in a program called Paddles Across Canada. The program is
based on a network of paddle making workshops across Canada, with partners that
include Lee Valley and Sunset Paddles.
“Paddles are a huge part of
Canadian history, so the teachers are showcasing that and showing us how to
make our own,” said Grade 7 student Lucy Enders.
What started as a Canada 150
activity last year has blossomed into a way to teach students both hands-on
skills and to help them envision how Canada was formed through a network of
“A few companies got together and
sponsored the making and production of paddles in schools throughout Canada,”
said woodworking teacher Shannon Auld. “It’s something different than your
usual extracurricular activity…there’s students who are really getting into it
that I wouldn’t have expected. They’ve found a niche and it’s something they
Students were given “paddle blanks”—rough-cut
pieces of wood that required shaving, sanding, finishing and painting.
“Students are doing the fine
carving, so they’re working with hand planes and spokeshaves…tools that they
normally wouldn’t have any experience with,” Ms. Auld said. “Students will also
be doing their own personal decorating and putting their own brand on the
paddles. Once they’re done painting, they’ll put a Varathane coat on the
paddles to protect them from the elements, so hopefully they will see some use.”
Students said they had newfound
respect for Canada’s pioneers, who had to fashion everything from homes to
furniture with hand tools.
“I mean, I can barely make a
paddle, so it would be very difficult to make a house with these tools,” said
Grade 8 student Sam Balanial.
Students said they enjoyed working
on their paddles at the after-school workshops.
“It’s been kind of therapeutic,”
Lucy said. “It’s very calming to do this.”