Starr began canoeing with the Boy Scouts during his teens. He spent many trips negotiating the Brazos River in West Texas, popularized in John Grave’s classic, Goodbye to a River, in which Graves describes his final voyage down the unforgiving river before five dams were built, cutting off the way it flowed forever in the 1950s.
In his twenties, Starr moved to Scotland to study Theology. There he built his first canoe and used it to explore and fish the many fine lochs and rivers in Scotland. It seems only too appropriate that he built his first canoe where the sport of canoeing originally began. It seems even more appropriate that the mother of his children was a distant relation of Rob Roy MacGregor, an historic figure in one of Walter Scott’s novels, and whom John MacGregor, a Scottish philanthropist and missionary, known as the father of modern canoeing, was also descended from. Some of Starr’s canoes are modelled on J. Henry Rushton’s canoes, who had originally modelled his famous ‘Rob Roy’ canoe on MacGregor’s design.
As an active missionary in various countries in South America, Starr continued his woodworking, exploring areas of the Amazon with the local people, and experiencing their usage of canoes as transportation and means of survival in the harsh country. He returned and settled in Texas, where he has spent the past fifteen years as a United Methodist minister, building canoes and fishing in his spare time.
Since then he has taken his newly finished canoes to the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, north of the Boundary Waters to test them out. Accompanied by like-minded friends and offspring, he spends ten days to two weeks aboard his new canoe, fishing peacefully for Walleye and enjoying the quiet life away from civilization.
Starr has also spent time canoeing and fishing various lakes and rivers from Texas to Georgia, including Caddo Lake, his workshop’s namesake.
Canoes are in his blood, and part of his personal history, and Starr builds them out of pleasure as well as to challenge himself as a boat builder. He is continuously adapting and perfecting his models to fit the person, recently completing his finest yet: a 17 foot, 55 pound, ribbed cedar strip canoe on which the Quetico Tripper is based, built especially for his daughter’s 21st birthday. He makes his canoes to enjoy them in their natural surroundings, appreciating nature away from the fast paced lifestyle that most people live today. And he hopes that you will do the same with one of his special handcrafted canoes.