Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 10.20.06
Stanstead, Quebec


Some ado about a canoe

There's a canoe on the front lawn. It's supposed to be by the side of the road to be picked up either by the garbage truck or people cruising the streets for junk, whichever comes first. But right now, the canoe appears to be part of an artistic work in progress.

We bought the green aluminum canoe from a friend several years ago. He too was getting rid of it. We thought, "A canoe! What great family fun!"

We could take it camping and explore primeval waters of the Canadian hinterland, preparing our tuna sandwiches as we drifted along the shore. After all, a Canadian is someone who can make lunch in a canoe.

It has now sat beside our garage for about five years. The whole camping/canoeing plan fell apart when we realized we would have to transport the canoe on top of the van. But that's where the roof carrier goes. It was either watercraft or sleeping bags.

It has been used once: this past summer, Abby and I were home alone, looking for something non-Barbie-related to do. I said, "Let's go for a boat ride."

I detached the canoe from the clinging weeds and hoisted it into our above-ground pool. I found the paddles and we set sail, making gentle circles around the pool, avoiding sharks and pirates along the way.

We also confirmed that, as suspected, the canoe leaks.

Arrrgh, abandon ship, me hearties!

This isn't surprising since it has been left to the elements for five years. Elements and children.

Lying by the side of the garage, the canoe has been a perfect spot for hide-and-seek. And when you jump on it, it makes a cool "thwokka-thwokka" sound, the way aluminum does when it's buckling and breaking down into its basic molecular components.

I could patch the leak. But my track record of repairs speaks for itself; it was best to not even try.

So to the side of the road it went.

This decision happened to coincide with Halloween season. There never used to be a Halloween "season." There was just Halloween - one day of ghoulish piggishness preceded by one or two days of preparation and activities.

At most, you would come home from school with a flat cardboard pumpkin with orange tissue paper eyes that you would stick to your front window.

Now Halloween starts a month in advance and people go all-out decorating their houses, stringing up lights and generally making it an orange version of Christmas.

My children are no exception. For the past several years, they have been littering the front lawn with spooks and scarecrows.

Abetted by their mother, they raid the Dollar Store and bring home glow-in-the-dark skeletons, bat-themed garland, and that horrible cobweb stuff, which I'm convinced is made out of the asbestos they have to surgically remove from old buildings.

And whoever invented those garbage bags with the jack-o-lantern face was a genius. I only wish he or she had made them of sturdier stuff. They are helpless against the onslaught of neighbourhood children. One tackle and they split, their leafy guts flying all over the lawn. Then you have to rake them up again and fill a new bag. See? Genius.

Then there's the dog. I warned the kids that any fake arms and legs strategically sticking out of the ground would be puppy fodder. But would they listen?

So far, the dog has mangled two leaf-filled spider's legs, a dismembered hand, and a skull. It sounds gruesome but it's really just a mess.

Which brings me back to the canoe.

When the kids saw it by the road, they decided it would make a great Halloween prop. They have plans to stick a zombie fisherman or something in it. It's a great idea. But as of this writing, it's just a canoe sitting on the lawn.

So if you're interested in a used canoe with a leak, it will be back at the side of the road November 1. Unless the dog eats it first.