To the fans of the E.M. White Canoe Company, Gilman Falls, ME; I send greetings.
So I don’t know how it happened, but I mixed up my stories. I am trying to figure out how the canoe ended up in a burn pile, because it didn’t. That story is too weird to be made up, so somewhere in the world, a wooden canoe was saved from a conflagration. No idea when or where, but it wasn’t an E.M. White, and it wasn’t Jerry who saved it.
I received a nice email from Mr. Stelmok himself today with some of the back story.
That is a nice tribute to E.M. White and our work at Island Falls Canoe that you posted and nicely illustrated with your selection of photos.
I’ve obviously been a big White fan for a long time and have been fortunate to be able to build my life around the E.M. White tradition. I feel however that I should provide the real story behind the development of the Willow and WilloWisp.
I went back to my archives and found Volume 2, Number 4 of Canoesport Journal, a now defunct magazine that died back in the early 90s. I still read mine for the good articles and the anachronisms.
Turns out that the Willow came back to life because of Jack McGrevey, who sadly died just a short time ago. He bumped his head and forgot more about wood canvas canoes than I would ever know, and he had a canoe in the shop for repair that was not marked necessarily as an E.M. White, but was probably a Featherweight 15, not built past 1923.
Jack had this boat in his shop and recognized it for what it was, and it was he who painstakingly pulled the lines off the boat. They were so accurate that when they were lofted to a larger size boat they were almost exactly the same as the larger E.M. White boats.
To quote the article:
The result, which Jerry calls the Willow, is a superb small canoe rescued from oblivion…it tracked with little effort, held course well in a breeze quartering the bow, turned right now, and did it all with what could only be called panache.
So in one way, I stand corrected. I was wrong about the origins of the boat. What I was right about was how the canoe behaves. It behaves outstandingly well.
I like your story much better, but this is the more mundane and accurate version of Willow’s development.
Thank you again for the fine tribute, and I know you will continue to get the most out of your Willow, and Jim’s 18’6” Guide.
Thanks for the update, Jerry, I appreciate it.