Johnson Built

Johnson Built

Taking orders for your Johnson-built sixteen-foot canoe.

Dave works directly with you on wood pattern and canoe profile.

You'll own a canoe unique to the world and durable for generations to come.

Prices start at $8,000 (plus shipping)

Life of Canoe #03

Included is a coffee table book of your actual canoe's creation,
from raw materials to final finish. Dave will use his photojournalism
and publishing skills to document each step of the way
for a lasting record of how your canoe came to be.

(photo credit: Aaron Hofbauer)

The Begining

Dave's dad Ralph built Old #01 in 1969. Ralph was the master craftsman with Dave as apprentice. Redwood strips (protected species these days) were used with oak trim. Cedar strips and oak are used now. Anxious to get Old #01 in the water, Ralph substituted thwarts for seats. He followed with two homemade cane seats that winter (thank the lord).

Old #01

Old #01

Builder Ralph H. Johnson with son Paul. (c. 1969)

The Restoration

In 2007, Dave brought Old #01 back to life. The canoe was still water worthy, but to ensure it was good for another forty years, he undertook its restoration. The original outside layer of fiberglass was replaced and all oak refinished.

Old #01 Restoration

Old #01 Maiden Voyage

Old #01 - After restoration. Daughters Emma and Sara onboard. (c. 2008)

Old #01 BWCA

Old #01 - Minnesota Boundary Waters. (c. 2010)

Canoe #02

In the tradition of father teaching sons and daughters, Dave undertook canoe #02 with daughter Maddie as primary apprentice. Cedar strips (from cedar boards cherry-picked once a week from Menards stock) were used. It became a family affair as family members (including dad Ralph) pulled staples, sanded, held gunwales, and offered love and encouragement.

Canoe #02 on Frame


Canoe #02 Final Resin Coat

Canoe #02 Gunwales

Canoe #02 Cane Seat

Canoe #02 Laminated Deck

Canoe #02 First Launch

#02 - First Launch. (c. 2013)

Canoe #03

Finding a rare stock of redwood salvaged from a 1960's deck, Dave and son Aaron undertook canoe #03. This involved ripping the weathered two-by-fours down to the good wood at their core and then creating the redwood strips from there. The canoe saw more miles in its construction than it did on the water its first year due to switching three woodshops. But the outcome was outstanding.

Canoe #03 Core Redwood

Canoe #03 on Frame

Canoe #03 Gunwale Construction

Canoe #03 Final Resin Coat

Canoe #03 Transport on Frame

Canoe #03 Inside Resin Coat

Canoe #03 Gunwales

Canoe #03 Mountain Launch

Canoe #03 Father and Son

#03 - Aaron and son on the St. Croix River. (c.2020)

Canoe #04

Canoe #04 could be yours, built especially for you! Contact the Dave!!

Canoe #04 Possibilities