Rollin Thurlow, proprietor of the Northwoods Canoe Company. I have spent much of my life either paddling, repairing or building wooden canoes. Introduced to canoeing via the family’s aluminum canoe in the early 1960’s,  and repairing my grandfathers leaking row boat, I discovered the excitement of Maine’s lakes and rivers. While guiding Boy Scout trips in the mid 60’s down the Allagash River and other northwoods waterways, I learned the advantages and spirit of wood and canvas canoes. These trips also started my education into the repair and maintenance of these traditional working craft.

After graduation from Maine Maritime Academy and a tour of duty in the U.S.Navy, my formal education in the construction of wooden boats began when I attended the Wooden Boat Construction program in Lubec, Maine. In 1975, Jerry Stelmok and I became partners in the Island Falls Canoe Company.  We were building canoes off the original E.M.White forms in addition to a wide variety of other wooden boat construction and restoration projects.

While Jerry and I were able to move the company to inland Maine to the village of Atkinson we were not able to sustain the business. We were a bit ahead of the curve of the resurrection of wooden boats but also our business skills were not as good as they should of been. We both had to find real jobs for a while but kept at the wooden canoe work but at a part time bases and with separate shops

In 1982, I established the Northwoods Canoe Company for the purpose of wooden canoe restoration and construction of my own canoe designs. In response to many requests from do-it-yourselfers, I have developed an ever-expanding line of canoe kits, plans, and hard-to-find materials and tools.

I have taught various canoe classes at the WoodenBoat School, Brooklin, ME; Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY; Maine Maritime Museum, Bath, ME; Wooden Canoe Heritage Association, Paul Smiths, NY; and at the Wilderness Workshop, Toronto, Canada. In addition to writing many articals, Rollin and Jerry Stelmok co-authored the book The Wood & Canvas Canoe, now regarded as the definitive work on the subject. I have also produced three videos, Building the Atkinson Traveler and Steambending for Woodworkers, demonstrating wood/canvas canoe building and wood working techniques and one video, Winterwalk 2003 about a 60 day snowshoe trip through Labrador. NO canoes but a lot of fun!



Pam does the mail ordering, shipping and bookkeeping, working around 15 hours a week for the shop.

Pam has survived working here for over fifteen years and is our office, mail-order and shipping guru. She commands the phones! Unfortunately, she only works part time, so that leaves the rest of us to take up the slack. When she is here, she is also the Queen of Filler. She keeps the retail and record-keeping aspects of the business on an even keel. She came to Maine in the 70’s  as a young hippie and now resides in Harmony (town of). She finished a nursing program after several years of juggling full-time and part-time work, school and volunteering with several local organizations. Now she works full-time as a Hospice nurse, so she manages our shipping department in between much more serious work!


Gail has been with us for over four years and works in the shop three days a week.

Gail retired from full-time social work on a Friday and started sanding canoes at the shop the following Monday. She has been keeping the place clean, the boats sanded, and the shop stocked with delicious baked goods. She worked for the state of Maine for over thirty years, serves on the local Board of Selectmen in Dover-Foxcroft and is an avid gardener. The shop benefits from her enthusiasm for people, her appreciation of the work, and her pace, which keeps us hopping.


Peter is back in the shop working three days a week.

Peter became my first full time employee in 1993. With his woodworking and mechanical skills, he quickly became a valuable member of the Canoe Company. After 20 years working full time in the shop, Peter moved on to being a full-time paramedic and then a seasonal Ranger at Baxter State Park. The shop is very lucky that he is now back in the shop working three days a week. He has picked up in the shop like he never left and his skill and contributions to the shop are greatly appreciated.

Peter built the family home partially from salvaged, manufactured and home cut wood. The house is a large, modern home that is off the grid and completely solar-powered – a testament to his commitment to environmentally responsible living. Peter incorporates all his skills into our wooden boat building projects, teaching classes, and dealing with customers and phone calls. We are all entertained by his broad knowledge of rock, country, folk and other types of music and a variety of other non-essential information and trivia, especially his bank of information about Frank Zappa, Firesign Theater and movies. His words of wisdom based upon that knowledge are always very enlightening.

And we can’t forget Bean!

Sadly, Bean has passed on, but she is greatly missed. There could not be a better shop dog or companion.

Bean inspects the Whisper’s wood hull before it is canvased!

Elisa Shine 

   Elisa worked in the shop for eight years and became a valuable part of the company. Her great smile and eagerness to
do any job was a great asset to the work in the shop. Her detail eye caught many of my mistakes and her joyful dissipation
kept me on an even line. she worked will with the customers and was patent on the phone answering questions.
She has now moved on to being a full-time student at the University of Maine taking a two-year graduate Forestry program.
We had a great party at the shop to celebrate her years of work at the shop. She will be greatly missed.