An homage to Canada’s Sportspal canoe, which has been reliably transporting anglers & hunters for 75 years


When retired aircraft engineer Cedric Summers couldn’t find a canoe to suit his needs back in 1947, he diligently set about making his own. His material of choice? The same lightweight aluminum he used to build airplanes for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

So was born the iconic Sportspal canoe in the basement of his home in North Bay, Ontario. Fast-forward to 1987, when Carl Crewson and two partners purchased Sportspal from bankruptcy and brought the business back to life. Crewson, who still goes to work every day at age 86, runs the company as a family affair with his son, daughter and a grandson.


In addition to the signature canoes available in eight models, three lengths and five colour schemes, the company—now known as Baywood Enterprises—also manufactures plastic kayaks, paddleboats and a wide range of trailers. At its height in the 1970s, Sportspal churned out 10,000 canoes a year for the Canadian market alone; many more were sold in the U.S. under the Radisson name. In recent years, Sportpal canoes have also been marketed in Japan, Norway and Holland. Production is now at approximately 1,150 units annually.

The author’s daughter and son enjoying his Sportspal (photo: Kevin Shackell)

The 14-foot wide transom model I purchased 20 years ago is the most versatile vessel I’ve ever owned. At just 59 pounds, it can be easily strapped to a car top or portaged into backcountry lakes. I’ve fished big waters and small with it, catching everything from huge muskies to chunky bass. The exterior foam sponsons keep the water out, while the dense foam interior liner provides extra flotation and dampens noise, a feature popular with moose hunters.

While my model comes equipped with two paddles fitted with oar locks, the best mode of propulsion is a 2.5-horse outboard. When I’m cruising solo, my Sportspal planes out nicely, and at the end of the day, I still have gas left in my four-litre jug—at the ready for the next adventure.