HISTORY - The story behind

Canoes, manufactured by active paddlers for todays canoeists - The history of GATZ-KANUS

Arno Gatz, owner and founder of Gatz-Canoes started paddling in the 40s in modified tiptanks of warplanes. Followed by folding kayaks the need for a larger multifunctional craft led to the building of his first canoe. In the early 60s the first serial recreation canoe in Europe made from the then new material Fibreglass was built in the Gatz workshop. Growing demand led to more models all of them produced under the goal to build the best and long-lasting canoes for our customers. Great designs stand the test of time and today our early models like the Mohawk and Cherokee are more popular than ever. Gatz continues to develop and introduce new materials and technologies as production processes. Today, we are proud of being the only company in Europe to manufacture canoes from such varying materials as fibreglas, Kevlar, carbon, polyethylene and Royalex. Your descision to buy a Gatz-Canoe is a descision for a product at the forefront of current technology. .


1961

Founders and active paddlers Arno Gatz and his wife Sighild started their business making fine furniture in Cologne. Decades of paddling experience and the need for a functional craft better suited their need than folding kayaks led to the development of canoes. In 1962 the first recreational canoe of the then new material fiberglass was produced, the first composite one to be built in serial production. The new material, performance of the canoe and the focus on quality have been early foundations of the remarkable brand name. All models were designed, shaped and led to perfection in the Gatz workshops. Arno Gatz developed the famous mixed colours, the zigzag footrest for kayaks, the connecting profiles, and a lot of other major inventions. Team canoes and more functional models followed in production.


1962

The first canoe is named YUKON, the one visible in the picture above (top left). The Yukon River was unknown in the early 60s and the model was renamed Colorado. 25 years later Olaf Gatz paddled the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River in a GATZ-YOHO 1.


1969/70

The GATZ-ALKONKIN enters the market as the first composite team-canoe. Races in this model are following as canoeing becomes more popular due to the efforts of the Gatz-family. In the late 60s the first Tipi-tents were manufactured as single mast tents by Gatz-Kanus.


1971

The 1971 catalogue shows author Elmar Engel in a Gatz canoe in Canada. New models like Mohawk, Ottawa and the Nordlicht, an eskimo kayak designed by Ernst Kaeufer are in the growing range.


1972/73

Gatz ships a bundle of canoes to Labrador. Many Germans experience their personal Canada dream in the remote loghome camp and started canoeing there. Cree, Ohio, Cherokee, Greenlander kayak and Alaska kid kayak enter the range.


1973/74

The new catalogue shows canoe pioneer Ernst Becher below Nahanni´s Virginia falls, after portaging 60km through the bush. New models are Kiowa and the Kodiak.


1974

New logos are adding to the value of the products. Labrador kayak and the still famous GATZ-ONTARIO teamcanoe enter the the market.


1975

Mohawk 470x90, Cherokee 500x100 and Mohawk 520 (the former Yukon) enter the market. New concept canoe is the model UFF.


1977/78

YOHO 1 is the first of the famous YOHO line to enter the canoe market. The Gatz family paddles the Bowron Lake chain, a then quite unknown park. Today the Bowron lakes are as popular as they are beautiful. Yellow Mohawk canoes are on display everywhere as promotional items for a large company. Kevlar rovings were added to every serial canoe to add strength.


1979

Moviemaker Hans Memminger produces "Kanada im Kanu" featuring Gatz canoes in Canada. Long before professional outfitters discover the Big Salmon River, Gatz canoes have been there already.


1980

The famous YOHO 2, YOHO 1-70, the Ojibwa in traditional design and the 9m long Huron continue to add to the product range.


1982/83

20 years of the success story of Gatz-Kanus were celebrated with a redesign of the famous moosehead logo. As well the composite seatholders were retired and replaced by a modern injection moulded part. Yoho3 and Athabasca line enter the Gatz canoe family.


1984/85

The new INUIT is the first kayak to seat 3 persons. Dakota series and kayaks Nunuvak 1 and 2 are new products in the Gatz selection.


1987

Gatz-Kanus celebrates the 25th anniversary with a new catalogue and the largest canoe selection in Europe. The trip down the Grand Canyon in Yoho 1 and Yoho 2 by Olaf Gatz and Arno Wiedemann creates legendary pictures and movie shots in the movie "Over the Edge" by famous Jochen Schweizer. The trip shows that Gatz canoes can stand the wildest of waters and are made to be tough. The first Gatz canoe in Polyethylene is produced. YOHO 470PE is made of single layer polyethylene a short time until our 3-layer process is finally ready for decades of success.


1990

As on of the results of the Colorado trip Olaf Gatz designed the YAQUI a very fast solo canoe in unique design. The Yaqui is at home on both, placid and unblocked white water.


1992

Based on the exeptional success of YOHO 470PE Gatz developed the Cherokee 527PE. This model features the best out of the composite CHEROKEE range. Being one of the largest polyethylene canoes ever produced the design has stand the test of time until today. The Cherokee PE features the unique Gatz-PE-colours, mixed colours which revolutionized all PE boats.


1993

Another break through. Olaf Gatz creates the label GATZ-ROYAL. Gatz-Royal is the trademark for all Gatz-canoes made from Royalex/ABS material. Gatz is the first company on the European mainland to manufacture Royalex canoes and is still the only German producer. The Royalex material is a positive addition to the large selection of different Gatz-canoes for all purposes. Gatz is now the only European company using all the different materials such as Composites (e.g. FRP,Kevlar,carbon), polyethylene (featuring our great 3-layer linear sandwich foam PE) and Royalex. Each material has special features and allows you as our customer to select the model and the material which fits best your needs. Gatz-Royal takes advantage of the features of Royalex to create the toughest Royalex canoes available. Design and variations create an exclusive line of canoes. One of the first customes is a Japanese company which, within short time, became one of the market leaders due to the unsurpassed quality of Gatz-Royal canoes. In 1993 Gatz-Royal started the European import of Bending Branches paddles, one of the best and most innovative brands in the industry. Today Branches is one of the market leaders worldwide, with Europe and Gatz being part of the success story.


1994

Mohawk 490PE is added to the Polyethylene range. Racoon and Kookaburra follow the grat success of the Royalex-ORCA. The composite factory invents the Carbon-Ultralight model range, featuring canoes both easy to paddle and to carry.


1996/1997

Tucan in Royalex and Chattooga PE in polyethylene add to both thermoplastic production lines.


1999

The CANOKI is designed, tested and introduced. First made in Royalex the other materials follow as this new concept of a small, easy to handle canoe becomes more and more successfull.


2000

Tucan PE und Canoki PE are special series for the Millenium.


2001

A fantastic start for the new CANADIAN line. A new interpretaion of classic lines featuring a V-shaped hull and excellent performance, these canoes designed by famous Arno Gatz are manufactured in the Gatz-composite manufacture in Cologne.


2004

Pacific Canoe 6, an OC 6 outrigger in unique design has stood the first tests in heavy use with incentive groups as well as with rough North Sea waters. A design especially adapted to the conditions of mainland Europe.


2005

44 years of Gatz-Kanus, just a number but one indicating a lot of tradition.visions and experience in making the finest canoes around. Alway on top of current technologies we are proud to create a product with two quality marks: the moosehead logo and "Made in Germany".


2006

A well choosen team of web designers Onesandzeros™ und Sirius23 took the task to relaunch the GATZ-KANUS website. They created a tool for our customers which was rated "Best E-Commerce Website NRW 2006" and one of the 3 best in Germany.