Production to stop on popular canoe material Royalex
Royalex manufacturer ends production in April of durable composite material
Canoeists are mourning the expected loss of a light and tough material that revolutionized the iconic Canadian pastime.
Royalex is a composite material of vinyl, plastic and foam invented in the 1970s, and its durability and weight made it a popular replacement to the aluminium canoes in use at the time.
Ottawa canoeist Reid McLachlan's Royalex canoe shows the scars of many whitewater collisions, but he's still using it years later.
"It's only got one purpose that I know of and that is to make canoes. And it's expanded what people can paddle now, so people are paddling much more difficult rivers and much more remote locations because they feel safer," said McLachlan.
For more than a decade Royalex was produced at one plant in Warsaw, Indiana - first by Spartech Corp. and then by polymer manufacturer PolyOne when they acquired Spartech.
In July, PolyOne announced it was restructuring and would close six manufacturing plants. As a result, production of Royalex is expected to stop in April.
McLachlan said while canoeing may be popular in Canada, worldwide the demand isn't strong enough to make it profitable.
"Supply and demand, that's what it's all about," he said.
McLachlan's wife is professional canoe instructor Becky Mason, daughter of the legendary naturalist and filmmaker Bill Mason, whose name is synonymous with Canadian canoeing.
She said the couple recently bought a new Royalex canoe to keep on paddling for years to come.
"Yeah, we bought it just because of this issue, that they are being discontinued. And there won't be any around, and the ones that are going to be around, the price is going to go up," said Mason.