Young Quebec Pair Give New Life To Defunct Mid-Canada Fiberglass Designs | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
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A woman paddles an Abitibi & Co. canoe on a lake Photo: Abitibi & Co.

Jean-Daniel Petit and Guillaume Leblanc of Atibibi & Co. are making canoes with modern appeal from Bluewater, Scott and Impex moulds

A young pair from Quebec has given new life to a well known but now defunct canoe and kayak company’s designs and heritage after acquiring their moulds.

While working in Alberta as a mechanical engineer, Guillaume Leblanc wasn’t in love with his work or feeling it aligned closely enough with his values. He decided it was time for a change and was in the process of exploring different opportunities when he paddled a kayak by Mid-Canada Fiberglass Ltd., the company that made canoes and kayaks under the Scott, Bluewater and Impex names. Leblanc was so taken with their products that after learning about some of their recent business troubles made arrangements to meet and discuss potential investment. The day following Leblanc’s meeting with Mid-Canada Fiberglass Ltd., the company declared bankruptcy.

Leblanc and business partner Jean-Daniel Petit purchased the moulds and designs and produce them as Abitibi & Co. Based out of the small town of Rouyn-Noranda in northwestern Quebec, Abitibi & Co. have been in production since 2015 and hope to produce around 800 boats this year. Petit says their goal is to “continue producing the same quality and go beyond,” while making sure they grow at a sustainable rate.

A handpainted canoe designed by Atibibi & Co. and Norquay Co.

Photo: Abitibi & Co.

Once they purchased the moulds, Abitibi & Co. undertook an analysis of the production logistics and market to figure out what they would offer. Their Scott lineup includes recreational, wilderness tripping, classic, sporting and duck boats. The Bluewater offering is four different series designed for adventuring, stability and performance, classic and solo paddling and their Impex kayaks are Greenland-style, speciality touring and performance touring. The materials used in their boats are fiberglass, standard Kevlar, expedition Kevlar, infused Kevlar and infused carbon Kevlar. 

In their efforts to make products that are beneficial for both the paddling community and the environment, Abitibi & Co. changed some of the suppliers used by Mid-Canada Fiberglass Ltd. in order to ensure better raw material and Canadian sources. They acknowledge that each boat they make leaves a footprint, but are committed to using the most environmentally friendly practices possible and local production.

They also have created a lineup of custom design options available on every canoe hull to mix creativity with outdoor culture. A collaboration with Norquay Co. on a line of hand-painted 15-foot Prospector Kevlar canoes has 50 hours of work going into the production of each boat. Petit says the prices have remained similar for the core products, with variations in new options and design they offer.  

While making canoes and kayaks and building on well-loved designs is rewarding, Petit also says they enjoy the ability to export the lakes, landscapes and lifestyle of their outdoors playground in the beautiful Abitibi-Témiscamingue area. They recently shipped a custom canoe to New Zealand, something Petit says shows them that people are really valuing the products they make. 

View their canoes and kayaks here

 

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