Ray Kettlewell Paddles.


When I arrived to these shores in 2010, my wife took me out canoeing. I’d been in a canoe before, but only on a handful of occasions, and never anywhere as idyllic as the Canadian backcountry. A canoe instructor in a previous life, she taught me some of the basics, beginning with the essential ‘J’ stroke.

I have fond memories those first trips, packing up her little yellow Mazda with dry bags, paddles, dog,  then strapping the canoe to the roof and heading east for the North Frontenac parklands. Each camp fire roared with the frustration of a ten year camping hiatus, self-imposed, following a number of disappointing experiences in the UK – too many trips ruined by the drunken antics of locals.

The camp fires are a lot smaller these days, but my love of the outdoors is just as strong. Canadians quite clearly understand that the solace of the outdoors is a sacred right. We’ve always been free to enjoy the wilderness without disruption.

Once the tent is pitched and dinner is warming your belly, not much in life can compare to a twighlight paddle. My first was by the light of a ruddy-hued sunset on the glassy waters of an almost deserted Mazinaw Lake. I quickly learned that a quiet paddle is a good one – splashing is just not cricket old bean – it spoils the tranquility and it’s inefficient.

Let it be known,  a few years of lakewater canoeing doth not maketh an expert paddler, so I don’t labour under the belief that expensive custom paddles will make much of a difference to my abilities. But when our friends (thanks James and Liz!) bought us a pair of fine Ray Kettlewell Ottertails as a wedding gift,  I was pretty chuffed. No harm in looking the part, nor is it a sin to be supporting a renowned Canadian artisan. I’m always a fan of fine craftsmanship, especially superior products made with wood (See Audi Duo Series, Fender Stratocaster, Renovatia). Ray fashions his paddles out of single pieces of strong,  kiln-dried cherry. The Ottertails look beautiful, almost too good to take out. I’m told they will darken to a richer mahogany colour over the years. They feel well-balanced, I like the grips, and handled properly they really are quiet through those still lake waters.

Ray is taking a well-earned break from paddle making at the moment, but he’ll be back in the workshop come October 20th. Below are his details:

Ray Kettlewell
4599 County Road 121
Minden, Ontario
K0M 2A1

Email: ray@kettlewellpaddles.com



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