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Lost canoe mysteriously resurfaces in Duluth during storm

Paul Kellner stands next to the family canoe that his son found during Wednesday’s storm, two years after it went missing. Steve Kuchera / Forum News Service

DULUTH — Sometime a couple years ago, Paul Kellner and his family noticed they'd lost a canoe to either thieves or Lake Superior.

Sometime during Wednesday's storm, the canoe returned to Kellner's Park Point lakeside beachfront. One of Paul and Deb's two teenage sons came bounding into the house amid the gales to pronounce, "Dad, the canoe's back!"

"It's the weirdest thing," Kellner said on Thursday, Oct. 11, laid up in his living room overlooking a chocolate Lake Superior still rolling with waves.

Kellner was fresh from ankle surgery to repair injuries dating back to his soccer playing days. The owner of Heritage Window and Door in Superior, he was pontificating the thousand ways the pale blue canoe could have vanished and returned.

"Do I think the lake spit it back out?" he wondered. "No. I like to think it's aliens, because why not have fun with it?"

The 16-foot pale blue canoe was nothing more than a beach prop, something to have impromptu fun with, he explained. The family kept it out in the open in tall grass above the beach on Park Point, where across the years the durable Old Town canoe aged, faded, began to show cracks in its plastic and then disappeared.

That it came back intact left Kellner to doubt it had been tossing about at sea.

His recuperation allowed him to watch the entirety of Wednesday's storm, something he hadn't done in years.

"Everything was humming, stuff was flying (outside the windows), you could feel the crash of the waves," he said.

He's always humbled by the nasty side of Lake Superior, he said.

"The lake was here before us and we're the ones who are in its way," he said.

Kellner was quick to tell his good friend, local author and Locally Laid owner Lucie Amundson, about the canoe. They had fun bantering about the possibilities, and Kellner was eager to see if publicity would yield any facts in the coming days.

"Paul is that quintessential nice guy," Amundson said. "I bet you'll walk away just feeling a little bit better about the world."

At one point during the interview, Kellner emerged on his lakeside patio through French doors, reacting to a new day's weather.

"Is it snowing?" he said. "I'm glad I wore shorts."

He talked about the dynamic nature of living on Park Point — how the dunes evolve and even the family's trail to the beach changes over time. The lake is given to coughing up gifts of driftwood and nautical oddities, he said.

"It's not the Socrates," Kellner joked about the family canoe, comparing it to the freighter that grounded onto Park Point nearly 33 years ago. Born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Kellner came to Duluth for college and settled onto Park Point in the early 1990s.

Said Kellner, "I've always thought there was something magic about Duluth."