It all began with one canoe. Chester and Stella Heavner lived in the city of Detroit. They were very active in American Youth Hosteling and enjoyed canoeing. They bought their first canoe in 1942, a red canvas Old Town. Soon friends wanted to borrow the canoe, so that left them without a canoe to use. So they bought another one so they would have one to loan and one to use themselves. Soon both canoes were on loan constantly, so they bought yet another. They decided to start charging a small fee to use them, and a business was born.