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Rock Island's Handcrafted Canoes

When Bruce and Sue Peterson relaunched one of America's most revered handcrafted canoe companies Navarro Canoe Co., they found the perfect spot in Rock Island, Illinois, along the banks of the Mississ

Sep 22, 2023 Handmade Goods

After a successful career in hospital management, Bruce was looking for a new adventure that he and his wife could take together.

Little did he know the journey would start with a business for sale on Craigslist and the opportunity to resurrect one of America’s most beloved canoe companies. For nearly a half-century, Navarro Canoe Co. has been revered by paddling enthusiasts around the world. Today, Bruce and Sue Peterson continue this tradition of handcrafting the most beautiful canoes on the water from their design shop in Rock Island.

As Bruce likes to say, it’s the hardwood that separates a Navarro canoe from its counterparts. Hulls are graced with wooden ribs, giving each canoe added strength and rigidity but without extra weight. Navarro taps into the handmade craftsmanship of yesteryear. Something you’ll see firsthand as you run your fingers across the varnished interior or pluck at the tightly woven mesh seats. No two canoes are precisely alike. Every Navarro is like a floating original work of art, an heirloom that families pass down from one generation of paddlers to the next.

For travellers navigating the Mississippi River on their own adventure, the Navarro Canoe Co. is a welcoming stop, home to beautiful, handcrafted canoes and genuine Illinois hospitality all its own.

Discover more Illinois artisans at Illinois Made.

Rack full of Canoes at Navarro Canoes. White and blue Canoe at the showroom of Navarro Canoe. Navarro Canoe's "Triumph" Canoe.

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