Grumman canoes are a Camp Voyageur staple. We’ve been using many of the same aluminum canoes since at least the 60s, and they’ve held up so well that you’d think canoes must be Grumman’s specialty. But in fact, the company behind our favorite canoes was not a canoe company to start with, and there are a few more facts about Grumman that might surprise you.
Grumman got its footing as a company making aluminum warplanes for the US Navy in WWII. In the summer of 1944, Grumman executive William Hoffman noted how heavy wood and canvas canoes were to portage. This gave him an idea. “We can make a lighter and more durable canoe out of aluminum!” The following year, Grumman produced the world’s first aluminum canoe out of their surplus military-grade aluminum.
That’s right. The hero of top gun piloted the F14 Tomcat, a fighter jet developed by none other than Grumman. The F14 Tomcat saw over 30 years of service, but it would still need a few decades to catch up to the years camp’s Grumman canoes have served.
One of the United States’s proudest achievements, the Apollo missions, fundamentally relied on the expertise of Grumman. Grumman aerospace engineer Thomas J. Kelly, dubbed “The Father of the Lunar Module” by NASA, designed the Apollo lunar module while working at Grumman. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of our canoes could survive a trip to the moon, too.
Do you know that boxy little righthand-drive car that the US Postal Service has used to deliver mail for decades? That’s right, it’s a Grumman. The vehicle’s full name is the Grumman Long Life Vehicle, which makes me think our canoe’s full names must be Grumman Long Life Canoes.
In Calverton, New York resides Grumman Memorial Park, a volunteer-run memorial that celebrates Grumman’s contributions to aerospace and aviation. Even though the park currently doesn’t have any dedication to Grumman’s contributions to canoe technology, I think we could do some convincing. Maybe an expedition out there could help make our case!
Grumman canoes hold a special place in the heart of every Voyageur. Their tracking, durability, and character make them a top choice for every trip. Hopefully, after reading this article, the next time you paddle a Grumman will feel just a bit more special than before.