Bill Mason called her “Queen Mary.” As much as Mason, a filmmaker, painter, author and Canada’s most famous canoeist, praised his beloved wood-canvas Chestnut Prospector, a stalwart 17-foot aluminum Grumman was his go-to boat for introducing his young family to river tripping. Now, the venerable canoe is up for auction on eBay.
“Dad bought it around 1970,” says Becky Mason, a canoe instructor and visual artist based in Chelsea, Quebec. “It was pretty much indestructible and really stable. His plan was to teach us how to paddle whitewater in it.”
With Mason’s widow, Joyce, preparing to move into a smaller residence, the family has been auctioning off some of his equipment and possessions. Earlier this year, a canoe pack filled with various books, paintings and camping gear sold for $1,575. Mason’s most iconic items were donated to various Canadian museums. His red Prospector canoe is displayed prominently at the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario.
While a 17-foot, flat-bottomed Grumman may not have the aesthetic appeal of a Chestnut, it’s a workhorse that did yeoman service for the Mason family. The canoe figures prominently in Mason’s much-loved Song of the Paddle, a National Film Board of Canada production documenting a family canoe trip in Ontario’s Great Lakes.
“He really felt that every Canadian should get outside and paddle,” says Becky. “With this classic film he encouraged them and gave them confidence to do just that. Dad believed that by creating his films—whether the subject was canoeing, wolves or the Great Lakes—he could inspire people to care about our natural areas and understand the importance of wilderness.”
The auction ends on Friday, March 27 at 9 PM Eastern.
–Stream all of Bill Mason’s films online at www.nfb.ca
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