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Community Boat Building Project

The community boat building project is a Dragon Zone Canada150 project, developed to inspire and strengthen our connections as Canadians, and to produce a lasting legacy of the Canada150 spirit well after this important milestone year is over.

The C15 Racing Canoe boatbuilding project will directly benefit the local communities who will take part in the design, building, and use of three C15 Canoes. The three C15 Racing Canoes will be built from the ground up in Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond. Participants will gain work experience in woodworking, restoration, varnishing, painting, power tool operation and teamwork.

Goals of the C15 Racing Canoe project:

  • Develop a community-based boatbuilding and work experience program that combine traditional boat design with skill development.
  • Create cultural connections between participants and observers.
  • Provide meaningful life skills and valuable work experience to participants through mentorship, while offering social experiences to all involved.
  • Teach skills that participants can add to their resumes, strengthening their opportunities for employment
  • Develop an online training program that will benefit individuals, non-profit organizations and communities throughout the world.
  • Create a lasting legacy for the paddling community, supplying high quality boats to be used for years to come.

Come down and visit us and see the magic emerging as our builders bring to life a 30 foot racing canoe.

Located at the Woodward’s Atrium at 333 Abbott Street, Vancouver, BC.


C15 War Canoe racing has a long and cherished history in Canada. Canada is the only country in the world to race war canoe, making it a uniquely Canadian experience. Although the C15 does not enjoy the massive popularity and marketing support of dragon boat racing, that’s about to change. This Canada 150 project ties traditional boatbuilding of traditional human-paddled C15 Racing canoes to the popular annual Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival—one of North America’s largest sporting and cultural events—during Canada’s 150th anniversary year.

Upcoming events:


Join the boat building team, Monday to Fri`day, 9:30 to 5 pm, every other Friday off, at the Woodward’s Atrium, 101 West Hastings.

JUNE 23, 24, 25 – Visit us at the C15 Showcase Tent at the Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival


Join the boat building team, Monday to Friday, 9:30 to 5 pm, every other Friday off, at the Richmond Boat Builder’s Building, Britannia Heritage Shipyard, 5180 Wastewater Drive.


What is the C-15 Community Boat project?
The project has been designed through non-profits (Dragon Boat BC and Britannia Heritage Shipyard Society), community and government agencies. There are various community outreach components as well as youth involvement. Along side the 150-year Canadian anniversary, Dragon Boat BC is coordinating the project to provide valuable skills training for the participants as they build boats that will be used in the communities that they have been built in.

What kind of boat is it?
It is a C-15 flat-water racing canoe designed to hold 15 paddlers. The boat has been built to the Canadian race class specifications. The canoe will be on display as it is being built and it will make appearances at events such as the 2017 Concord Dragon Boat Festival and other public events. As more of these C-15s are made available throughout the course of this project, they will be used for races through Dragon Zone programs at the Creekside Community Centre.

How does it compare to a dragon boat?
The team balances on one bended knee paddling vs. dragon boating, which is fully seated. The C15 design basically hasn’t changed in the last hundred years, with slight changes around the 1940’s. Based on the design from back east, this canoe design is from Steve Killing Yacht Design. The 72-year-old Ontario designer, has also designed/co-designed catamarans for America’s Cup races throughout the years, including the Canadian True North Syndicate from 1987.

Are there any other canoes of this type nearby?
Yes, there are approximately 4-5 canoes in the area and many more on the eastern coast of Canada.

What are the boat specifications?
The C-15 race canoe is 30 feet long. It weights approximately 200 pounds (minimum 189.5lbs) and is designed to accommodate 15 people (180 lbs/person).

How long will it take to build?
It will take approximately 5 people, 40 hours week for 16 weeks through the project initiatives. The canoe at the Woodwards atrium site will be completed at the end of May.

It looks great, but will it float?
It is encased with epoxy and fibreglass sheathing around the cedar core, which serves as a cohesive unit, locking the shape. The canoe is given strength through this mono calking construction component. It also protects the canoe from issues with wood maintenance.

What kinds of tools are used?
Hand tools, backsaws, chisels, and sanders are used throughout the build process.

What is the frame under the canoe?
The framework supporting the canoe is called the mould; it is built on a strong back that defines the shape of the boat. It is assembled from pre-cut pieces during the first week of the build and serves as the base to support the canoe throughout the building process.

Can people in the public participate in the build project?
Yes, there are various stages of build projects occurring in Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby. Community outreach programs as well as through Job creation initiatives. There are also volunteer opportunities and you can even sign up to paddle at a community event in the future.

For more information, email info@dragonboatbc.ca

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© 2018 Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society