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The Bill Mason 'Heavy Duty' Special

Bill Mason, canoeist, author, film maker and conservationist has, with his enthusiasm and consummate whitewater skills, inspired countless numbers in a return to and a respect for the splendour of our wilderness, in company with the most functional and beautiful thing ever created by man - the wooden canoe.

Mason was impressed with the lines, workmanship and handling abilities of this canoe, and gave it his enthusiastic endorsement.

Dear Paul and Josie,

Hey! That is one hot looking brochure. The shot of you and I looks great. Best shot anyone ever took of me, and you look pretty good too. But of course the canoe looks better than the two of us put together. You really do make a beautiful canoe. I am very excited about getting my hands on it. I am going to try very hard to get up that way this summer.

I am impressed with the sweeping-up gunwales at the bow and stern. Most canoe makers now-a-days really let down on that. It's difficult to put that rise in, so they don't bother. It makes for a very seaworthy canoe. Sure the wind catches it, but that's where the [paddling] skill comes in...

... Congratulations on your brochure. I am pleased to have my name on your beautiful canoe.


Bill Mason

Bill Mason and designer Paul Fletcher corresponded. Explained Paul: "Although I had never met Bill Mason when I designed this canoe, I had certainly read his stuff, and the thought had crossed my mind may times that Bill, with his canoeing skills, would be the perfect person to put it through its paces. I could not believe my good fortune when shortly after the prototype was completed, I read that Bill was coming to Whitehorse (where I lived) for a lecture. When I showed him the canoe, he was interested, and agreed to take it out for a trial.

"After a couple hours of paddling in the icy Spring waters of the Yukon River, Bill bounded up the bank with the canoe on his back and began enthusiastically to discuss its finer points. It was then that I told Bill that the canoe had not yet been named and asked if I could call it the "Bill Mason Special." Bill replied that he would be honoured, with the proviso that it be dubbed the "Bill Mason Heavy Duty Special" because of its large volume."

Later, Paul wanted to send Bill a canoe and there was an exchange of letters as to how best accomplish this. Bill's home at Meech Lake was a considerable distance from Whitehorse.

Following are excerpts of a letter from Bill Mason to Paul Fletcher and his wife Josie:

Photo: Paul Fletcher, original builder and designer of Fletcher Canoes, and Bill Mason, Canada's "guru of paddling."