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Boreal Community Media

Canoeing in December

Dec 27, 2019 05:51AM ● By Editor

The Koch family in Grand Marais earlier in 2019.  Boreal file photo


By Jim Boyd of the Cook County Chamber of Commerce - December 27, 2019


A snowy frigid Saturday evening might seem an odd time to strap a canoe to your car or load it in a trailer and entertain dreams of gliding down rivers or paddling across lakes. But that was what Toni and Charlie Koch of New London, Minn., were doing Saturday, Dec. 14, in Grand Marais.

Back in August, Toni and Charlie and their two children, Henry and Harrison, took their first vacation trip to the North Shore. In Grand Marais, they came across the Great Place Project raffle canoe. Toni recalled that they “decided it would be so fun to win this beautiful canoe and support this quaint town in northern Minnesota that we fell in love with instantly.” So they purchased a raffle ticket during a coffee stop at Java Moose.

Toni’s name was on the winning Ticket No. 0595. So this past weekend, after stopping at Bentleyville in Duluth, the Koch family returned to Grand Marais, collected their new canoe and had dinner at Cascade Lodge Restaurant with the team who helped manage the 2019 raffle canoe project.

This was no ordinary canoe the Kochs won. It is a wood/canvas canoe, a type beloved by Boundary Water veterans. And it was handcrafted at North House Folk School, the result of a special partnership between North House, Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply and the Cook County Business and Civic Partnership.

The partnership is the charitable foundation arm of the Cook County Chamber. Jeanne Bourquin of Ely designed the canoe. Bourquin taught the North House course during which the canoe was constructed. Josh Tolkan, artisan-in-residence at North House, managed the canoe project. Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply staff members and owner Jack Stone assisted Tolkan with the canoe construction. 

Proceeds from the canoe raffle help fund the Great Place Project grants. These grants assist businesses, individuals and groups who want to create small spots of beauty and enjoyment across Cook County. Over the years, about 60 projects have been funded. Some favorites include the Mila Horakdesigned mural that continues to grow on the north wall of Birchbark Books & Gifts in Grand Marais, the bobber benches in front of Beaver House and the new trail of felted critters near Sawtooth Elementary.

Unfortunately, this summer’s raffle did not raise nearly as much money as previous efforts, and so funds available for grants this spring are somewhat short. 

Tax-deductible contributions are welcomed and appreciated. Please send to: The Partnership, P.O. Box 805, Grand Marais, MN 55604.

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