Home » Field Log » The Wm Lauver

“When I imagine him, I am drawn to the love of nature he passed on to his daughters. It leads me to thoughts of Autumn leaves quaking in the foothills, of smoke rising from an early morning camp, and a quiet paddle on a still Alberta lake. Thinking such things lead me to the idea of a solo boat.”


Inspired by master builder Nick Schade’s Nymph, a light and easily handled pack canoe, I set about lofting the eponymous 12 foot solo boat. Laid out full size on the drafting table, what emerged seemed most terribly small and not quite what I’d thought she would be. Consequentially I set about drawing something longer and beamier and what I’d hoped would be just as pretty.

She would be a solo day boat for use in sheltered bays, estuaries, and inland lakes. She should stretch out for 8 to 12 miles at a go, and be able to cross open water on those odd occasions called for.

She would be easily carried on a single shoulder, leaving the second hand free for balance where bush and water access was particularly difficult. And as much as the kneeling aesthetic appeals, she would be used by those whose knees are long past prime and are firm in the conviction that sitting isn’t an option, but a necessity.


lines plane - blue


When done, she would settle onto her lines with a 160lb paddler with another 10lbs allowance for paddle, sandwiches and a thermos of hot soup (or whiskey as the day calls for).

Here then is what I started with ….

  • 15’ LOA
  • 3” Draft
  • 200 lb Displacement
  • 2”/1” Rocker
  • 17”/12”/15” Height

Those in the know will recognize those numbers as awfully familiar; the path to an asymmetrical solo has been travelled by giants. David Yost, Steve Killing and John Winters have all penned boats that, give or take, share similar dimensions and similar aesthetic. Regrettably, I’m no historian and unable to point to who first developed the concept, but collectively these designers have adopted a form embodied by a low profile, minimalist stylings and a distinctive midships tumblehome. This boat doesn’t claim to tread new ground, and where I’ve trod on existing designs (which I most certainly have), I give full credit …

And as for that hard-shouldered chine; it will be a chore to strip but allows for the builder to use his aesthetic discretion. And she doesn’t need to built as such; the two I’ve built so far have a rounded tumblehome which I like just fine. In any event, like a lapstrake pulling boat she can be built with a contrasting boot-stripe which will show off her pretty lines.




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The Stats

After running the requisites through the design software, here’s how she emerged. Boat geeks will notice that she’ll be balanced with paddler weight just aft of centre, and if she were a sailboat, she’d have a pretty much neutral weather helm. In practice, what this means is that she’ll want to trim broadside to the wind in a blow, a tendency easily countered with a learned stroke. Light paddlers will find she pivots with ease. Paddlers who have enjoyed years of Thanksgiving dinners may have to put some extra shoulder into the pivot. This works to her benefit when crossing lakes loaded, as with a weekend trip with a 40 lb pack.

Apart from that, paddlers will notice that she comes up to speed quickly, has fair initial stability for her beam, and is easily driven.


  • Length over All : 15.000 ft
  • Length on Waterline : 14.650 ft


  • Beam over All : 29 in
  • Beam on Waterline : 26.5 in
  • Beam at Gunnels : 26 in


  • Height at Bow : 16.50 in
  • Height at Midships : 11.75 in
  • Height at Stern : 14.50 in


  • Rocker Bow : 2 in
  • Rocker Stern : 1 in
  • Design Draft : 3 in
  • Design Displacement : 200 lbs
  • Displacement at 2.5” : 144 lbs
  • Displacement at 3.0” : 200 lbs
  • Displacement at 3.5” : 248 lbs
  • Block coefficient : 0.4423
  • Prismatic coefficient : 0.57


  • Wetted surface area : 21.81 ft^2
  • Total Surface area : 49.208 ft^2


  • Longitudinal center of buoyancy (from stern): 7.01 ft
  • Waterplane center of floatation (from stern): 7.15 ft
  • Longitudinal center of effort (from stern) : 7.20 ft
  • Vertical center of effort : 0.128 ft
  • Lateral wind area above waterline : 17.527 ft^2
  • Distance from bow to wind area CoG : 7.494 ft

Thinking like an optimist, acting like a miser, and leaving in only the necessary elements and eliminating everything else promised the possibility of a 30 lb boat. As it turns out boat Number 1 tipped the scale at 28.5 lbs and Number 2 at 29.5 lbs. Bang on the money.

An Old Story

A New Way of Remembering

In the fall of 1952 William Lauver took his  five daughters camping in the foothills of Southern Alberta. He would shoot a buck that fall and have the hide tanned and sewn into a jacket by a local Hutterite seamstress. The story goes that he also commissioned gloves but that that the seamstress cheated and delivered a pair from Sears Roebuck.

There was a hunting vest that fall too, and a cast iron frying pan, scorched by an aspen fueled flame.

The jacket and frying pan would stay in use for decades, the rack would be passed on from cousin to cousin.

Eventually all the mementos from that trip would end up dispersed.The jacket and vest would end up in Ontario with a grandson, the rack with William’s second daughter at her home high in the Oregon desert, and the perfectly cured cast iron pan would fry bacon for decades in British Columbia’s lovely Fraser Valley.

Nearly 70 years later, rack, the jacket and frying pan would be the inspiration for The William Lauver, a 16 foot solo canoe built as meditation to that Indian Summer on the low slopes of the Alberta Rockies.

The boat would tell of meals eaten in the long grasses by girls in long dresses and the crack of a long gun at dawn.  It would tell the story of soft breezes in golden aspen and make real the promise that a man need never pass away.