Our Story

Badger® Paddles

Badger Paddles creates made-to-order premium solid wood canoe paddles located in Muskoka, Ontario. A family cottage-industry business, Badger is owned and operated by partners Mike and Fiona, a husband and wife team. Badger makes canoe paddles from Cherry, and sometimes Ash, Walnut and other specialty woods.

Badger canoe paddles can be given an oiled, varnished or combination finish (varnished blade with an oil shaft and grip) but are available unfinished as well.  Badger also offers a unique WaterColours™ finish with colourful and vibrantly tinted paddles in a rainbow of colours, as well as laser engraving and even hand painted designs.

Besides canoe paddles, Badger creates various wooden objects such as Kitchen Paddles, Cutting Boards, Souvenirs, and sometimes even furniture.

Instead of a one-use plastic bag, most Badger paddles include a Badger Paddle Sock, which are also sold separately as a one-size-fits-most paddle sock to help protect your paddle in transport or storage. Badger Paddles also distributes Badger Wood Oil, an all natural (food safe) hemp seed oil for finishing and maintaining oiled paddles, gunwales, axe handles, cutting boards, wooden spoons and more.

The Badger Paddles family strives to be a socially and environmentally responsible company, and partnered with Portageur.ca, have helped to create the Paddle In the Park Contest, an event that has become one of the most intriguing outdoor advocacy campaigns (disguised as a contest) to ever have come to backcountry canoeists and campers. Based on our curated list of 9[+1] Rewards & Reasons to Spend Time in Nature Everyday, the Paddle In The Park helps to make people more aware of the scientifically proven benefits of spending time in our forested parks and natural spaces, and also adds a few more incentives to get you “Out There”.

Sidney Badger

Great-grandfather, Father, Husband, Artist, Outdoorsman.

The name “Badger”actually originates from the family name of Fiona’s great grandfather, Sidney Badger, and as such was carried on in honour of Badger & Son, the family wood finishing business. Badger & Son was started by Sidney in 1945, passed down to his son Don Badger, and then eventually inherited by his grandson, Fiona’s father. Fiona’s father, Mike Westner (known to many locally as simply “Badger”) coincidentally shut the doors of Badger & Son not long after Fiona and Mike Ramsay started making canoe paddles under the Badger family name.

Fiona’s father, Mike Sr., who we affectionately refer to as “Poppa Badger” finally retired in 2010 after 40+ years in the wood finishing business. ending an era. But not before passing on the same finishing techniques and recipes that were taught to him by his grandfather and uncle. So he was definitely pleased to see his methods and the family name continue through the new paddle making business that Fiona and Mike created. And so as it turns out, Mike Ramsay and Fiona became partners, not only in life but also in business. By the time they established Badger Paddles in 2009, both had been part of the outdoor industry in Ontario for many years. Read more about our family below…

Mike Ramsay

Father, husband, friend, canoeist, paddle-maker.

Mike began escaping from Cambridge, ON to the northern backcountry as soon as he was old enough to go to summer camp.

His natural enthusiasm for the outdoors led him to work as a camp counsellor when he was in his teens. He graduated from the Seneca College Outdoor Recreation Technician program when he turned 20 and has been working in the paddling industry ever since, racking up over 25 years of experience in the business of the outdoors. As he also had an interest in working with wood, he always remained available to help his father-in-law at Badger & Son where he also spent some time learning the trade while living in Toronto.

After working for various canoe manufacturers over the years, Mike became founder and partner in Badger Paddles (along with his wife, Fiona) and is our paddle builder, production manager, sales manager, account manager, CEO, sales representative, and so much more.

Also as the main innovator of the Paddle Sock, Mike’s idea became a full part of the Badger Paddles line-up in 2010 when it was decided to include a one-size-fits-most Paddle Sock with every (adult length) Badger canoe paddle sold.

Never one to sit idle, and not completely satisfied with the construction and swing weight of the original set of Badger canoe paddles, Mike continued to develop the Badger Paddles series. Utilizing the years he spent at Badger & Son along with the decades of knowledge and skill he accumulated from his own personal experiences in the backcountry, as well as his professional background in the paddle sports and outdoor recreation industries, Mike updated the original Badger Paddle shapes and grips in 2014. Mike spent a lot of Badger Paddles’s early years slowly developing and tweaking each of his paddle designs to create today’s traditional line up of one piece canoe paddles that would be at home in any canoeist’s treasured collection.

You may recognize Mike from various Youtube videos or from some of the trade shows or the many paddling events across the province of Ontario and even the U.S. This guy really knows how to slog canoes!

If you are looking for Mike, you might catch him at one of the outdoor trade shows in the off season or around one of the Swift Canoe & Kayak locations thru out the summer. When he is not building paddles, Mike is talking about paddles (and canoes and other boats) to area visitors, or sometimes even guiding canoe trips into the world renowned Algonquin Park Provincial Park.

Fiona Westner-Ramsay

Mother, wife, friend, paddler, artist.

While Fiona has always enjoyed camping and canoeing, even learning to become a basic canoeing instructor, it wasn’t until she was a young teenager that she began to paint wilderness scenes on paddles and other unique items. Over the years Fiona has proven to be a creative and talented artist with her early work even showing up in the most unexpected places.

Interestingly enough, Fiona & Mike met and fell in love while they were both working for the same canoe manufacturing company, a company that remains a bit of a fixture in their lives, even today. After marrying, they had a beautiful son, Makobe, who also loves being in and on the water. Upon discovering Makobe has autism, Mike and Fiona began behaviour therapy with their son and moved from Temiskaming Shores to Huntsville to be closer to family and city based autism services.

Like her own father, Fiona spent much of her youth helping out at Badger & Son, learning much of the trade as she grew. As co-owner of Badger Paddles, and over the years, she has painted countless paddles by hand, offering personalized names, designs and more. As well, Fiona is the creator of Badger WaterColours – a unique line of tinted solid wood paddles that appeal to the young and colourfully hearted. She is also the co-creator of the much talked about Paddle In The Park Contest and the ever popular GIRLS PORTAGE poster and decals.

You can usually find Fiona at the Badger Paddles sett where she does all the marketing and social media content for Badger as well as varnishing paddles in the lil’finishing shop, or teaching Makobe as part of his home-based autism therapy program. If not there, then you will probably find her on the water or in the forest.

Mike Westner (Poppa Badger)

Grandfather, Father, Husband, Outdoorsman.

Even though Fiona’s father, affectionally known as Poppa Badger, officially retired from the Badger & Son Wood Refinishers in 2010, he still makes himself available to Mike and Fiona for special projects, deliveries, or when things get a bit too busy around the paddle shop.

Not surprisingly, Poppa Badger’s passion for working with wood, boating, and the outdoors remains as strong as ever. When he is not teaching his popular wood refinishing class for the Toronto District School Board’s Learn4Life education program, he spends his time at his Huntsville home on Axe Creek conveniently located across the road from the Badger Paddles sett.

If you are looking for Poppa Badger, you might catch him at his Mimico classroom in Etobicoke. Otherwise, you will find him fishing, paddling, riding his tractor, fixing things, or even sometimes crafting little souvenir paddles and other unique items to sell on the online Badger gift shop.