Navarro Canoe Co.

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

in Crafts, Arts, Illinois Makers
June 01, 2016

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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 a 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 families pass down from one generation of paddlers to the next.

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

Discover more Illinois artisans at Illinois Made.

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