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Those Magnificent Men in Their Rob-Roy Canoes
Those Magnificent Men in Their Rob-Roy Canoes

This book that Jim Parnell has compiled is about the canoeing exploits of George Park of Hokitika and his brothers in their canoes about 1890. Rob-Roy canoes were wooden clinker-built craft, which could be paddled or sailed. They were first developed by John “Rob-Roy” Macgregor of London about 1856. He recrafted the Eskimo kayak with wood for his own use and also founded the Royal Canoe Club.

George Park built his canoes to the Rob-Roy design and other derivatives of it.

George’s canoeing exploits include:

  • Paddling and sailing up and down the West Coast between Okarito and Greymouth,

  • With his brother Jim, taking their canoes up the Taramakau River, over the Harper Pass (963 metres) and down to the coast. From thence, to Lyttelton.

  • Sailing his canoe in the 1890 Jubilee Regatta in Wellington. And winning his race.

  • Paddling down the upper tributaries of the Manawatu River from Eketahuna to Palmerston North.

  • Paddling with his brother William, down the Manawatu River from Palmerston North to Foxton.

  • Embarking with William on a coastal steamer from Foxton, put overboard near Kapiti Island, and then paddling back to Foxton.

  • Sailing with William from Mana Island to the Marlborough Sounds at night.

  • Sailing solo from Picton through the Marlborough Sounds to French Pass, and then down to Nelson.

George was a founder member of the Hokitika Canoe Club and some of the Club’s activities are included in the book. He also went gold mining near Franz-Joseph.

The source material was principally from newspaper clippings that George pasted into a scrap-book. This is now in the keeping of his grandson, Ron Searle of Greymouth. It appears to be the sole remaining record of George’s activities as many of the issues of the newspapers in which they appeared no longer exist either as hard copy, or in microfilm form. Additional supporting material has come from the National Library’s “Papers Past”, and various other libraries, museums etc.

Price: $25.00

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