Canoe collaboration ‘an Ottawa story’


Andrew Szeto likes to make things. So does his artist pal Drew Mosley.


In the past, through Szeto’s design company Maru, they’ve collaborated on T-shirt designs, ball caps and jackknives. 

Szeto also produces canoe paddles using old skateboard decks. So when he decided to build his own cedar canoe, he knew he wanted Mosley on board, so to speak.

“I made these paddles and it was a natural progression. I wanted to step up, something crazier,” Szeto said. “I trust Drew. We’ve worked on things together. There’s sort of an unspoken code between us. We let each other do our thing.”

Szeto, by day a multimedia officer for the Canadian Coast Guard, has been chronicling his progress on social media. He also put together a video showing Mosley’s artwork that adorns the canoe’s hull.

For Mosley, the chance to paint the canoe with one of his images was a challenge he relished.

“I get lost in the meticulous, one-brush strokes,” he said. “It was fun. It was a challenging one, because it’s not a wall. It’s not a canvas. It’s got shape and you can’t get perspective. Basically, I just dove in.”

People familiar with Mosley’s work will recognize the rabbit-like figure that took him several hours over two or three evenings to complete.

“He’s a reoccurring character. I like to focus on animals that are affected by the growing of a city and the displacement. And you see these little creatures, foxes, hares, in the city limits and I think that’s fascinating how they adapt to their new surroundings. And sometimes thrive,” said Mosley.

“I like to anthropomorphize my characters to convey a little bit of empathy. A lot of these creatures, although they’re in popular culture, you’ll see them on cards and T-shirts, and things like that, but in real life they’re vermin. And people don’t want rabbits eating up their garden or foxes tearing up their trash.”

‘I get lost in the meticulous, one-brush strokes,’ said artist Drew Mosley. (Andrew Szeto)

Both Mosley and Szeto say they take great inspiration from their hometown’s surroundings but also from the people here. And that’s what the canoe symbolizes, said Szeto.

“The canoe is really an Ottawa story.” 

Szeto and Mosley were guests on CBC’s All In A Day on Wednesday.