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Coleman Craft Canoes - Bill Coleman Canoe Maker - Fought to Retain His Name

Bill Coleman at Coleman Canoes Reunion
Bill Coleman at Coleman Craft Reunion, Hespeler, Ontario

NOTE: I am re-posting this story I did on the reunion we did for fans of the original Coleman Canoe made in Galt Ontario. I still get calls today about the canoes from around Ontario. We still take our Coleman canoe out on the Mill Pond. It was a great day celebrating a true legend Bill Coleman.

In 1968, Minister Goode of the United Church of Hespeler Ontario was looking to buy some canoes and could not find some decent canoes at a fair price. Bill Coleman knew how to work with fibreglass and the Minister knew about canoes. This was the innocent beginning of the Coleman Craft Canoe Company of Galt Ontario.

The virtually indestructible, stable fibreglass canoes came in different sizes and colours. Earlier models were heavy. Later models were significantly lighter. Bill`s canoes were popular throughout Ontario.

One day Bill received a letter from the camping giant Coleman Company threatening him with legal action if he did not stop using the Coleman name for this canoes. Bill fought them for over 5 years for the right to use his own name on the canoes.

Bill won that battle. Later canoes made by Bill had the his first name William put on top of the logo. Eventually Bill stopped making canoes and the legend of this Ontario canoe maker was forgotten.

On June 11th, 2016, we were lucky to have Bill come out to meet people who still owned his canoes. A great day with people sharing stories ensuring his canoe making legacy will be remembered.

Here is a good story from Greg Mercer of The Record -

Coleman Craft Canoe Reunion
Coleman Craft Canoe Reunion Participants Hespeler, Ontario


  1. Great to read about this. Have had Colemancraft canoes in our family since before I was born. I wish I knew about the reunion of 2016. Thanks for posting.

  2. My friend owns one of these canoes and has enjoyed it for years great boat great tripper for the bush


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