In 1970 John Bell started his paddle making career at the young age of 17. He was employed by the North Country Paddle Company, which was owned by Greg Cowan. Greg was one of the members of the Ontario Paddle Team, and his love for paddling was passed onto John in their short time working together. After a year in business Mr. Cowan made the decision to move on, so John with the help of his parents bought a few machines and started making paddles in his parent’s garage.
It was 1973 when John started the Northumberland Paddle Company in Millbrook, Ontario. For six years he worked on making paddles part-time, and in 1979 it evolved into a full-time business supplying all of the Canadian Tire stores in Canada. He enjoyed a lot of success over the years, but missed the custom side of the business that didn’t come with producing large quantities of only a few different products. With the lack of creativity John had felt it was time to move on from the Northumberland Paddle Company, and he decided to rebrand and start a new company.
In the early stages of the company John and his wife Leslie were looking for inspiration while walking on their property, and that is when a Redtail Hawk had swept down in front of them. With their love for the striking beauty of the Redtail Hawk they decided to reach out to renowned artist John Doherty located in Port Hope, Ontario to help them design a new logo. It was 1992 and Redtail Paddle as we know it today had launched with the mission to make hand crafted canoe paddles at an affordable price.