email: artisan@canoeshop.ca

Background: According to information provided by the World Health Organization, COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory disease which results in death for about 3.4% of those infected with the Coronavirus. Of those who have died from COVID-19, almost three-quarters are 65 years of age or older and 99% of those had pre-existing health conditions. The spread of the Coronavirus is amplified by the fact that infected people can transmit the virus for 5 – 14 days before they show any symptoms. Until a vaccine is readily available, the vast majority of the general public is susceptible to infection. Therefore, Kettle River Canoes (KRC) will implement a safety plan to reduce transmission of the virus.

Personal Context: My wife, Christy, is 70 years old. She is dealing with Lupus (immune system disorder in which the body attacks itself). She suffered a stroke (2018), has had open-heart surgery to replace the large valve on the left side of her heart (2018) and has had kidney failure three times (2016, 2017 and 2018). I am 66 years old and have chronic bronchitis. If either of us were to contract the Coronavirus, the effects on our health would be serious.

Safety Plan: KRC will open for business on June 8, 2020. Clients and the public will be allowed into the shop by appointment only. Most clients of KRC are located outside the local region (more than 50 kilometers from Grand Forks, BC). We ask you to avoid traveling to Grand Forks until further notice. If you must travel, we will check on your health with a general questionnaire. We ask you to stay home if you are sick (i.e. high fever, persistent cough, difficulty breathing). Your time in the shop will be kept to a minimum in order to deliver a canoe for restoration or pick-up a completed canoe. When you enter the shop, hand-sanitizer will be provided for you. While in the shop, we ask you to avoid touching any and all surfaces. We will maintain the recommended 2-meter physical distance from you at all times. In-Store purchases will be done via credit card and the Square Reader app on my iPhone. The iPhone will be wiped with sanitizer after each transaction. Toilet facilities are present at KRC but will not be made available to the public.

Updates to the Plan: KRC will operate according to recommendations and regular updates provided by Dr. Bonnie Henry (Provincial Health Officer for British Columbia). Consequently, our safety plan may change as the situation changes with regard to public health risks associated with the Coronavirus.

Stay home if you are sick. Stay safe. Be kind to others.

Kettle River Canoes
COVID-19 Safety Plan

May 31, 2020

Background: According to information provided by the World Health Organization, COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory disease which results in death for about 3.4% of those infected with the Coronavirus. Of those who have died from COVID-19, almost three-quarters are 65 years of age or older and 99% of those had pre-existing health conditions. The spread of the Coronavirus is amplified by the fact that infected people can transmit the virus for 5 – 14 days before they show any symptoms. Until a vaccine is readily available, the vast majority of the general public is susceptible to infection. Therefore, Kettle River Canoes (KRC) will implement a safety plan to reduce transmission of the virus.

Personal Context: My wife, Christy, is 70 years old. She is dealing with Lupus (immune system disorder in which the body attacks itself). She has already suffered a stroke (2018), has had open-heart surgery to replace the large valve on the left side of her heart (2018) and has had kidney failure three times (2016, 2017 and 2018). I am 66 years old and have chronic bronchitis. If either of us were to contract the Coronavirus, the effects on our health would be serious.  On top of everything else, Grand Forks, BC is on flood alert.  We will be evacuated if the weather causes river levels to rise in the first week of June.

Safety Plan: KRC will remain closed until further notice. When we re-open, clients and the general public will be allowed into the shop by appointment only. Most clients of KRC are located outside the local region (more than 50 kilometers from Grand Forks, BC). We ask you to avoid traveling to Grand Forks until further notice. If you must travel, we will check on your health with a general questionnaire. We ask you to stay home if you are sick (i.e. high fever, persistent cough, difficulty breathing). Your time in the shop will be kept to a minimum in order to deliver a canoe for restoration or pick-up a completed canoe. When you enter the shop, hand-sanitizer will be provided for you. While in the shop, we ask you to avoid touching any and all surfaces. We will maintain the recommended 2-meter physical distance from you at all times. In-Store purchases will be done via credit card and the Square Reader app on my iPhone. The iPhone will be wiped with sanitizer after each transaction. Toilet facilities are present at KRC but will not be made available to the public.

Updates to the Plan: KRC will operate according to recommendations and regular updates provided by Dr. Bonnie Henry (Provincial Health Officer for British Columbia). Consequently, our safety plan may change as the situation changes with regard to public health risks associated with the Coronavirus.

Stay home if you are sick. Stay safe. Be kind to others.

Kettle River Canoes

COVID-19 Safety Plan

email: artisan@canoeshop.ca

Background:  According to information provided by the World Health Organization, COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory disease which results in death for about 3.4% of those infected with the Coronavirus.  Of those who have died from COVID-19, almost three-quarters are 65 years of age or older and 99% of those had pre-existing health conditions.  The spread of the Coronavirus is amplified by the fact that infected people can transmit the virus for 5 – 14 days before they show any symptoms.  Until a vaccine is readily available, the vast majority of the general public is susceptible to infection.  Therefore, Kettle River Canoes (KRC) will implement a safety plan to reduce transmission of the virus.

Personal Context:  My wife, Christy, is 70 years old.  She is dealing with Lupus (immune system disorder in which the body attacks itself).  She has already suffered a stroke (2018), has had open-heart surgery to replace the large valve on the left side of her heart (2018) and has had kidney failure three times (2016, 2017 and 2018).  I am 66 years old and have chronic bronchitis.  If either of us were to contract the Coronavirus, the effects on our health would be serious.

Safety Plan:  KRC will open to the public on Monday, June 1, 2020.  Clients and the general public will be allowed into the shop by appointment only.  Most clients of KRC are located outside the local region (more than 50 kilometers from Grand Forks, BC).  We ask you to avoid traveling to Grand Forks until further notice.  If you must travel, we will check on your health with a general questionnaire.  We ask you to stay home if you are sick (i.e. high fever, persistent cough, difficulty breathing).  Your visit to the shop will be kept to a minimum time-frame in order to deliver a canoe for restoration or pick-up a completed canoe.  When you enter the shop, hand-sanitizer will be provided for you.  While in the shop, we ask you to avoid touching any and all surfaces.  We will maintain the recommended 2-meter physical distance from you at all times.  In-Store purchases will be done via credit card and the Square Reader app on my iPhone.  The iPhone will be wiped with sanitizer after each transaction.  Toilet facilities are present at KRC but will not be made available to the public.

Updates to the Plan:  KRC will operate according to recommendations and regular updates provided by Dr. Bonnie Henry (Provincial Health Officer for British Columbia).  Consequently, our safety plan may change as the situation changes with regard to public health risks associated with the Coronavirus.

Stay home if you are sick.  Stay safe.  Be kind to others.

by Mike Elliott, Kettle River Canoes

email: artisan@canoeshop.ca

In America, the Old Town Canoe Company set the standard by which all other canvas-covered canoes are measured.  With more than 170,000 produced over the course of seven decades or more, Old Town canoes are ubiquitous.  So let’s look at a few of their classic models and compare them.  From this, you ought to be able to identify your Old Town.  However, be prepared for any American canoe to be called an Old Town.

The Old Town Canoe Company

The brand-name Old Town is synonymous with canvas-covered canoes in the United States.  They are one of the only canoe companies to survive into the present day from their humble beginnings behind the Gray hardware store in Old Town, Maine in 1898.  George and Samuel Gray incorporated the Old Town Canoe Company in 1901.  They were entrepreneurs who hired others to design and build their canoes.  The company kept meticulous build records which are still available through the WCHA.  Their designs appealed to customers across the full range of styles from work-a-day canoes to elegant showpieces.  So, let’s look at some of these quintessential canoes.

The Otca Model

Probably the best selling of all the Old Town models, the Otca was introduced in 1908 and began with a narrow hull (34.5” beam in the 16’ length) and later adopted the wide, flat-bottom of the Yankee model (36” beam in the 16’ length).  According to their 1938 catalog, “The ‘Otca’ model is the widest, deepest and roomiest.  These features make it the steadiest, safest and most capacious canoe we build.  The floor is flat and wide, and carries far into the ends.  The sides are convex, thus producing a handsome tumblehome. This model is not designed for speed but comfort, safety and fine appearance.”

The Otca caters to novice canoeists as well as those looking for a leisurely day on the water.  There is little to no rocker at the ends, so it tracks very well.  As a friend of mine explained, “It goes in a straight line.  If you want to turn, just paddle until you reach the opposite side of the lake, get out, turn the canoe around and head back.”

It comes in 16’, 17’ and 18’ lengths and usually has a floor rack installed.  It sports elegant, up-swept ends with a variety of deck styles over the years including a 16” solid-wood, pre-bent deck, a 20” one-piece deck with a low  coaming and a 30” framed-veneer deck with a king-plank and coaming.  The ribs in the Otca are standard-issue (5/16” thick, 2” wide spaced 1.5” apart and tapered on both sides to be approximately 1.5” wide at the sheer-line).  The 16’ model weighs approximately 75 pounds.

The Yankee Model

This canoe (known as the Livery Model prior to 1920) was phased out in favour of the Otca in the 1940’s.  It is a very easy paddling canoe.  The flat bottom and soft chine makes it both steady and quick.  It is 16’ long, 36” beam, 12” deep and weighs approximately 73 pounds.  With fine entry lines and moderate rocker at the ends, it is a delight to paddle.

The Ideal Model

The Ideal comes in 16’ and 17’ lengths.  It has a flat bottom, soft chine, straight sides, moderate rocker and fine entry lines making for a quick, responsive canoe.  The floor is furnished with half-ribs to make it strong and comfortable.  The ends sweep up with an elegant rise in the sheer-line.  It is a quick, easy paddler and becomes more stable as it is loaded.

The Charles River Model

This canoe (introduced in 1903) is the same as the Ideal without the half-ribs. It was often furnished with a floor rack and was built with elegance and showy good looks in mind.  That said, its flat-bottom, soft chine and fine entry lines produce in a canoe that was just as much fun to paddle as it was a delight to look at.  Both the Ideal and Charles River were phased out in 1929.

The Guides Special Model

This is a slow, steady work-a-day canoe that comes in 18’ and 20’ lengths.  The 18’ model has a 36” beam and is 13” deep.  It has a flat-bottom, slight tumblehome, very little rocker and full ends.  This workhorse is meant to be loaded and will get you where you want to go. Just don’t expect to get there quickly.

The H W Model

The Heavy Water Model is the consummate back-country traveler.  It has moderate rocker, a semi-arch “yawl” hull, mild tumblehome through the entire length and full ends.  With a narrow beam, this canoe is very quick on the water.  Stability is traded for a canoe which is agile and responsive.  It takes a little getting used to and once you do, it dances through river rapids.  In my books, it is a delightful recreational canoe.  The 16’ model has a 33” beam, is 12” deep at the centre and weighs about 70 pounds.

The 50-LB. Model

The “50-Pounder” is a series of light-weight versions of the HW model.  They come in 11’, 13’ and 15’ lengths and weigh 50, 53 and 58 pounds respectively.  They are constructed with ribs ¼” thick to produce canoes which are easy to portage.  Modest tumblehome extends the entire length of the canoe and the bottom has a semi-arch and fine entry lines.  The result is a versatile all-purpose canoe.  Personally, I enjoy the 15’ model.  It is light, quick and both steady and agile to handle rivers and lakes with ease.

by Mike Elliott, Kettle River Canoes
email: artisan@canoeshop.ca

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The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) website is a treasure trove of beautiful short films.  Among my personal list of favourites is the Path of the Paddle series by Bill Mason.  Of the four films in the series, Path of the Paddle Solo Whitewater (1977) is the one I tend to watch over and over again.  Not only is the photography outstanding, I get a thrill every time I see a wood-canvas canoe being jockeyed through 3′ (one meter) standing waves in a wild river.

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The canoe featured by Bill Mason in the film is a Chestnut Pal (16′ pleasure canoe).  Its gorgeous lines, distinctive red colour and hand-woven cane seats gives the film a touch of class.

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One of my favourite occupations while watching any film, is looking for and finding continuity glitches.  In this one, Bill navigates his Chestnut Pal through a particular set of rapids.  Meanwhile, the canoe is alternately being paddled empty and then is loaded with canoe packs — switching back and forth as if by magic.

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I enjoy watching the Chestnut Pal handle challenging rapids with grace and style.  For a general-purpose canoe that is 12.5″ (32 cm) deep with a 36″ (92 cm) beam, its ability to handle these conditions is impressive.  That said, I like to keep in mind that Bill was able to run the same section of river many times and select the runs that worked out (the key to good story-telling is good editing).

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For anyone unfamiliar with wood-canvas canoes, this film is an education in just how durable they are.  I love watching Bill bumping and thumping off rocks in his Chestnut Pal.  Especially impressive is one sequence where the canoe hits an exposed boulder broadside in the river and lives to tell the tale.

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Bill plays fast and loose with cinematic continuity during a sequence discussing how to handle the canoe in high-water conditions.  We watch him start into a class 3 rapid in his Chestnut Pal (note the hand-woven cane seat).

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Then, the canoe miraculously survives a near upset.  Indeed, this would have been a miracle if Bill was paddling his Chestnut Pal.  However, a closer look reveals that the canoe capable of handling this situation is not a Chestnut Pal but rather a Chestnut Prospector (16′ wilderness tripping canoe) that is 14.5″ (37 cm) deep — note the all-wood slat seats.

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The Chestnut Prospector is perfectly designed to handle class 3 rapids.  The extra depth keeps the water out of the canoe as does the fact that the hull is flared (V-shaped) about 4′ (1.2 meters) from each end.  Bill painted all of his canoes the same colour in order to allow him to interchange them during filming.

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The photography in these films is absolutely stunning.  The image of a red canoe on the water has become a major part of Canadian iconography due in no small part to Bill Mason and his use of red Chestnut canoes in his films.

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The Chestnut Pal is one of the best general-purpose canoes ever designed.  However, it is not designed to handle class 3 rapids.  Apparently, that did not stop Bill Mason from trying.  I applaud him for showing us the limits of this amazing canoe.

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I encourage you to make your way to the NFB website and check out the Path of the Paddle films by Bill Mason.  They are, for me, well worth the time and effort.

by Mike Elliott, Kettle River Canoes
email: artisan@canoeshop.ca

Once you’ve got your canoe out of the shed for the season, you’ll need some way of supporting it off the ground when it is not on the water.  I can still hear my father saying, in no uncertain terms, “The bottom of this canoe touches two things: air and water”.  One of the most convenient support systems is a pair of canoe cradles.

They are quick and simple to build and can be stored easily when not in use.  They are also essential tools when repairing or refurbishing your canoe.

For the cradles I build, each one consists of two vertical struts, two base struts, two horizontal brace struts, two sling clamps and a cradle sling.  All you need to build a pair of cradles are:

  • 4 – 8’ 2×4’s (spruce) to make the struts;
  • A bunch of 2½” deck screws to hold the whole thing together and;
  • 2 strips of material 3½” wide for the slings (I use pieces of carpet or scraps of canvas leftover from a canoe project).  I have seen some people use 3/8” rope for the slings.

As far as dimensions are concerned, I find a stable design that still holds the canoe off the ground at a comfortable height have vertical and horizontal struts that are 28” long.  The base struts are 24” long and are oriented parallel to the centre-line of the canoe to create stable “feet” for the cradle.  The sling material is about 50” long.  The clamps are just scrap pieces used to hold the sling material to the vertical struts.  These can be about 6” long – whatever you end up with.

To build a cradle, start by creating the two sides.  They each consist of a base strut attached to the end of a vertical strut to form a T-shape.

Next, the 28” bottom brace strut is attached between the two sides and the 28” upper brace strut is positioned somewhere in the middle of the vertical strut.

I take a minute to round-off the inside corners of the vertical struts.  Otherwise, the sling material wears out quickly and has to be replaced frequently.  I use an angle grinder to round the corners, but the same job can be done with a rasp and a little elbow-grease.

Construction of the cradle is completed by attaching the sling by means of the clamps.  The whole process takes the better part of an hour for both cradles.  If you want to pretty them up a bit, the struts can be rounded off and sanded smooth.

Any cradles that are going to spend a lot of time outside are finished with an opaque oil-based stain to protect the wood.

mockup 02

All of this (and much more) is described in my book – This Old Canoe: How To Restore Your Wood Canvas Canoe.
If you live in Canada, CLICK HERE to buy the book.
If you live in the USA, CLICK HERE to buy the book.
If you live in the UK, CLICK HERE to buy the book.
Si vous habitez en France, CLIQUEZ ICI acheter le livre.

If you have read the book, please post a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads and/or any other review site.

by Mike Elliott, Kettle River Canoes
email: artisan@canoeshop.ca

18' Chestnut Prospector Vee-Stern

As I was completing the restoration of an 18′ Chestnut Prospector Vee-Stern canoe for a client, he asked me to create a wood-canvas canoe field repair kit for him. He lives in Whitehorse and plans to use the canoe on hunting trips in the Yukon. A few basic supplies along with a hammer, a screwdriver and the ubiquitous roll of duct tape are all you need to hold your canoe together until you get out of the bush and back to civilization.

The kit fits into a small food container (900 ml or 30.4 fluid ounces) and consists of the following items:

  • a piece of #10 (14.5 ounce) canvas 12″x12″ (30 cm x 30 cm)
  • 10′ (3 meters) of 3/16″ rawhide lacing (babiche)
  • a tube of waterproof glue (Ambroid glue is no longer available but you can use a polyurethane glue instead)
  • 30 – 3/4″ (19 mm) brass canoe tacks
  • 20 – 3/4″ (19 mm) silicon bronze 14-gauge ring nails
  • 12 – 1″ #8 silicon bronze flat-head square-drive wood screws
  • a small container of alkyd enamel paint

Canvas Canoe Field Repair Kit

You also need to pack a clinching iron (auto-body dolly) in order to clinch the tacks when the time comes to use them.  Most of the supplies are self-explanatory except for the babiche. It is very useful for lashing a broken thwart back together or holding a make-shift thwart (tree branch) in place. Soak the babiche for about 6 hours, do your lashing and let it dry overnight. The babiche will tighten and hold anything without fail.

mockup 02

All of this (and much more) is described in my book – This Old Canoe: How To Restore Your Wood Canvas Canoe.
If you live in Canada, CLICK HERE to buy the book.
If you live in the USA, CLICK HERE to buy the book.
If you live in the UK, CLICK HERE to buy the book.
Si vous habitez en France, CLIQUEZ ICI acheter le livre.

by Mike Elliott, Kettle River Canoes
email: artisan@canoeshop.ca

If there is an area of controversy in the world of wood-canvas canoes, the question of the keel would be it.

Historically, canoes (and kayaks for that matter) never had keels.  Edwin Tappen Adney documented hundreds of indigenous water craft throughout North America in the early part of the 1900’s.  His meticulous notes, drawings and scale models are presented in the book “Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America”.  It was compiled and edited by Howard Chappelle after Adney’s death.  The canoes and skin boats range from small hunting boats around 11’ (3.35 meters) in length to large cargo vessels over 36’ (11 meters) long.  None of these vessels had a keel.

As people of European ancestry came in contact with canoes through the 1800’s and tried to build them, they tended to approach the task of boat building from a European perspective.  For them, building a boat begins with a keel.  The rest of the vessel is built around it.  As canoes became a commodity for the general public, canoe builders also had to appeal to a market that didn’t trust a boat unless it had a keel.  Many people unfamiliar with canoes feel unstable in them and have trouble travelling in a straight line.  As a result, most canoes sold in the better part of the 20th century were equipped with a keel.  However, it is interesting to note that true working canoes built at the same time (such as the Chestnut Prospector, Cruiser and Ogilvy) were usually keel-free.

The Chestnut Ogilvy was designed to be stable. The wide, flat bottom allows a person to stand up in it all day long. A true working river boat, it never had a keel.  Safe travel in rapid rivers requires a canoe that can side-slip easily to avoid encounters with large rocks.  A keel makes this maneuver more difficult and puts the canoeist at risk.

To look at it from a design perspective, the stability of a canoe is determined by the hull shape.  Wider canoes – 36” (90 cm) or more – with flat bottoms tend to have greater “initial stability”(feel more stable when you first get in them) than narrow canoes – 34” (85 cm) or less – with arched bottoms.  What is gained in stability with a wide, flat bottom is lost in hull speed and vice versa (what is gained in hull speed with a narrow, arched bottom is lost in stability).  Attaching a strip of wood an inch (2.5 cm) high to the bottom of a canoe does little to affect stability one way or the other.

The Chestnut Prospector was designed to dance around rocks in rapid rivers.  Although it has a more rounded bottom than the Ogilvy, the tumblehome and high sides in the centre of the canoe gives it very good “secondary stability” (gets more stable as you add weight to the canoe).  When the Chestnut Prospector it is tipped over on one side, it becomes stable in that position.  Also, the waterline width increases as more weight is loaded into the canoe.  Greater width at the water-line equals more stability.

Tracking – the tendency of a canoe to travel in a straight line – is determined by its length.  The longer the waterline length, the better the canoe tracks in the water.  Note here that I refer specifically to the waterline length rather than the canoe’s length overall.  The hull of a Chestnut Prospector lifts dramatically at the ends.  As a result, an unloaded 16’ (4.9 meters) canoe will only be about 14’ (4.2 meters) long at the waterline.  What is gained in maneuverability in a shorter waterline length is lost in tracking and vice versa (what is lost in maneuverability in a longer waterline length is gained in tracking).    If you are simply looking for a canoe that will travel in a straight line, get a long canoe – 17’ (5.2 meters) or more – with no rocker.  If you want your canoe to be able to dodge rocks in a rapid river, choose a canoe with lots of rocker at the ends – and no keel.

Functionally speaking, most canoes are designed to navigate rivers.  The rivers of northern Canada present the traveler with many challenges – chief among them; rapids filled with large rocks.  The Chestnut Pal was equipped with a “shoe” keel. At 3/8″ (9 mm) high and 2¼” (57 mm) wide, it provided protection to the bottom without interfering with the canoe’s ability to sideslip past rocks in rapid rivers.

In lakes, many people complain that a canoe without a keel will be blown around by the wind.  Again, it comes back to learning how to handle the canoe.  When travelling on a large lake with the wind in your face, the canoe must be loaded with a majority of the weight in the forward half of the canoe.  It will always tend to “weathervane” – that is, it will orient itself with the lighter end downwind.  As long as the weight of the canoe is slightly upwind, the canoe will track easily into the wind.

Speaking as a canoe restorer, I wince slightly whenever I finish preparing a beautifully watertight canvas cover and then proceed to drill a dozen or more holes straight down the centerline of the canoe.  I solve the watertight issue by using a top quality marine bedding compound to set the keel.  Eventually, the bedding compound dries out and/or the keel is jarred by one too many encounters with rocks in rivers.  When the seal is broken, the canoe begins to leak.  It is difficult, if not impossible, to remove the keel without damaging the canvas.  Therefore, when the canoe starts to leak, it is usually time to for a new canvas.

If the question of keels in canoes were strictly one of form and function, there would not be a discussion – a canoe is a water-craft designed to travel on rapid rivers, and as such, is better off without a keel.  You only have to look at any modern Royalex or Kevlar canoe on the market.  None of the canoes built today have keels.  However, in the world of wood-canvas canoes, there is more to consider.  Many people have grown up with their canoe.  It is part of their life and part of their family.  Their canoe has had a keel for fifty years, so it seems only natural that it stays that way.  In this context I say, “Fair enough.”  It turns out that wood-canvas canoes are more than form and function.  They must be seen in the context of family history and tradition.  For this reason, I have no problem re-installing a keel in a wood-canvas canoe.

mockup 02

All of this (and much more) is described in my book – This Old Canoe: How To Restore Your Wood Canvas Canoe.
If you live in Canada, CLICK HERE to buy the book.
If you live in the USA, CLICK HERE to buy the book.
If you live in the UK, CLICK HERE to buy the book.
Si vous habitez en France, CLIQUEZ ICI acheter le livre.

by Mike Elliott, Kettle River Canoes
email: artisan@canoeshop.ca

Proper storage of your wood-canvas canoe is essential to its long, rot-free life.  The basic principles of proper storage revolve around creating an environment that is hostile to the growth of the fungi that cause wood to rot.  This means keeping the canoe:

a) well off the ground
b) upside-down
c) protected from rain, snow, etc.
d) in an area with lots of air circulation

Finding a suitable place is often a major challenge.  I’m sure there are as many places to store a canoe as there are canoes.  Let’s look at a few.
Some examples of suitable storage spaces include:

1)  Carport
2) Covered Porch
3) Unheated Garage
4) Lean-To Shelter (against a building).

Once you have identified a spot, the next step is to develop a storage method.  I will describe three possible systems.  From them, you ought to be able to come up with something that works for you.

Canoe Storage Rack_sm

1. A Basic Rack – Does your space have a solid wall on one side?  Is there enough room away from the wall to allow access into the space?  If so, build and install two large racks about 7’ (2 meters) apart.  The example illustrated here is made from spruce 2×4’s.  The joints are glued and screwed to ensure a sturdy structure.  The top edges of the rack can be rounded and/or padded to protect the gunwales of the canoe.  Make sure the racks are secured well to the wall (with lag-bolts or through bolts and washers).

Canoe Rack Rollers 01_sm

If you are able to use the services of a steel fabricator, a canoe rack can be constructed from 1″ (25 mm) square tubing.  A single weld to create a right angle is more than strong enough to support a canoe, so there is no need for extra bracing if the rack is made of steel.  Protect the gunwales of your canoe by threading a length of 1½” (38 mm) ABS pipe over the steel struts.

Canoe Rack Multiple 01_sm

Canoe Rack Multiple 02_sm

 

2. A Roller System – Is your space long and narrow?  Is it awkward or impossible to access the space from the side?  In this case, it may be possible to feed the canoe into the space from one end.  For this situation, install two support racks about 7’ (2 meters) apart.  Each support rack is a  length of standard 1” (25 mm) steel pipe (or square tubing) at least 40” (one meter) long threaded through a  length of 1½” (38 mm) ABS pipe at least 38” (96 cm) long.  Install each steel pipe securely at the desired height.  The ABS pipe acts as a roller and makes it easy to store the canoe in and remove it from a confined space.

Canoe Storage Hardware_sm

3. A Hoist System – Is it possible or desirable to get your canoe up out of the way above everything else?  If so, try using a system of ropes and pulleys to hoist your canoe up and away.  Support the canoe with a length of rope wrapped around each end.  Tie a permanent loop in both ends of the ropes.  Use a carabiner to clip the ends of each rope together to create a support loop for each end of the canoe.  Then rig a length of ¼” (7 mm) braided rope (I use multi-filament polypropylene – MFP – rope) through a series of pulleys as illustrated above and install a cleat to secure the free-end of the rope.

photo by Kevin Dunn

4. Interior Design – Let’s face it, wood-canvas canoes are works of art and as such can enhance a living space.  They can set a tone for the room and become a conversation piece for visitors.  A little creativity can provide a method for hanging the canoe that shows off your canoe to its best advantage.  This is an option as long as the space has large doors to allow the canoe to be moved into and out of the space.  Narrow hallways or tight corners into the space would eliminate this as an option.

photo by Kevin Dunn

Warning:  When storing your canoe (either inside or outside), resist the temptation to wrap it up in a tarp.  Any moisture trapped inside the tarp or developed over extended wet periods will remain there.  As mentioned earlier, this sets up perfect growing conditions for the fungi that cause wood-rot.  If you want your canoe to compost, then wrap it up in a tarp.  Otherwise, make sure there is plenty of air circulation around your canoe and never wrap it in a tarp.

mockup 02

All of this (and much more) is described in my book – This Old Canoe: How To Restore Your Wood Canvas Canoe.
If you live in Canada, CLICK HERE to buy the book.
If you live in the USA, CLICK HERE to buy the book.
If you live in the UK, CLICK HERE to buy the book.
Si vous habitez en France, CLIQUEZ ICI acheter le livre.

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by Mike Elliott, Kettle River Canoes
email: artisan@canoeshop.ca

In Canada, the canoes from the Chestnut Canoe Company set the standard by which all others are measured.  Now, forty years after the company went out of business, they are still held up as classic canoe icons.  So, how can you identify a canoe as a Chestnut and what makes a Prospector a Prospector?

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The Chestnut Canoe Company – William and Henry Chestnut started building wood-canvas canoes in 1897.  They bought a canoe in Maine (probably a Gerrish canoe) and made exact copies of it which they then sold out of their father’s furniture business in Fredericton, New Brunswick.  They incorporated the canoe business in 1905 which most historians view as the birth date of the company.  However, the 1972 Chestnut Canoe Company catalogue proudly celebrated 75 years in business.  It seems the company viewed its birth as 1897.  Be that as it may, the company grew into the largest canoe manufacturer in Canada and, at their height, were producing in excess of 3,000 canoes/year.  In 1923, Chestnut Canoe Company and Peterborough Canoe Company (and later Canadian Canoe Company) amalgomated under an umbrella group called Canadian Watercraft Limited.  As a result, the wood-canvas canoes for all three companies were built in Fredericton by Chestnut.  The Peterborough Canoe Company ceased operations in 1961 while the Chestnut Canoe Company continued until it closed in 1978.

Chestnut produced over 50 different canoes in a wide variety of models.  In this article, I will focus on the most common Chestnut canoes — Ogilvy, Cruiser, Bobs Special, Pal and Prospector.

The Chestnut Ogilvy – Although never as popular as the others, fishing guides on the salmon rivers of New Brunswick helped create a working canoe that is unmatched for its purpose.  They needed a river canoe they could stand up in all day long.  They were often poling the canoe upstream through shallow rapids in order to offer the prime fishing spots to their clients.  The canoe had to be stable and tough with a shallow draft so as to avoid many (but not all) of the rocks.  They come in six models that range in length from 16’ to 26’ – real, honest working canoes.

The 16’ model has a 36” beam and 13½” depth at the centre.  The ribs are 3” wide, 3/8” thick and have only ½” space between them.  This creates what amounts to a double-planked hull.  The rugged nature of the Ogilvy comes with a price in terms of weight.  The 16’ has an average weight of 84 pounds and a carrying capacity of 850 pounds.  It has a flat-bottomed hull, straight sides, full entry lines and modest rocker in the ends.  This makes for a canoe that is slow and steady – exactly what is needed when moving through shallow, rapid rivers.

The Chestnut Cruiser – This canoe was one of the first canoes that Chestnut developed.  It was influenced very heavily by (if not copied directly from) Gerrish canoes built in Maine in the late 1890’s.  The lines are sleek, narrow and graceful – designed to handle rivers with speed and efficiency.  This narrow canoe has an arched bottom, fine-entry lines and generous rocker at the ends.  Therefore, it was not for the novice paddler.  However, in the hands of someone who knows what to do, this canoe is a dream to paddle.

Three models are 16’ 17’ and 18’ long.  The ribs are 2-3/8” wide, 3/8” thick with 2” spaces between the ribs.  The 16’ model has a 34” beam, is 13” deep and weighs 70 pounds.  They are also built with ribs 3” wide, 3/8” thick and ½” spaces between the ribs.  These heavy-duty models are called the Guide Special.  The 16’ model weighs 75 pounds.  Both 16’ models have a carrying capacity of 600 pounds.

The Chestnut Bobs Special – This 15′ canoe is one of two lightweight pleasure canoes built by Chestnut.  Before I talk about the canoe, I’d like to clarify the name.  According to Roger MacGregor in his book “When the Chestnut was in Flower”, Henry and Will Chestnut were real history buffs.  The telegraph code for the 15’ 50-Lb. Special was BOBS and made reference to Lord Roberts, a major figure during the Boer War in South Africa. Over the years, as this wide, light-weight canoe became more difficult to keep under the weight limit of 50 lbs (the average weight is 58 pounds while the carrying capacity is 700 pounds), they changed the name.  I have seen a variety of Chestnut catalogues call it “Bob’s Special”, “Bob Special” and “Bobs Special”.  So, feel free to take your pick.

Many outdoor enthusiasts were looking for a lightweight, stable canoe that would allow them to enjoy fly fishing or just a quiet paddle on the lake.  With a 37” beam and 12½” depth at the centre, the Bobs Special is very stable — ideal for those who find a regular canoe too ‘tippy’.  At the same time, it is surprisingly quick and maneuverable in the water.  This is due to the shallow-arch bottom combined with moderate rocker and fine entry lines in the ends.  The ribs are 2-3/8” wide and ¼” thick with 1½” spaces between them.

The Chestnut Pleasure Canoes – It is no accident that Bill Mason used a 16′ Chestnut pleasure canoe in most of his films.  It is stable, yet quick; steady, yet agile.  It has a 36” beam, 12¾” depth at the centre, weight of 72 pounds and a carrying capacity of 700 pounds.  It is as close to being a perfect recreational canoe as you ever hope to get.  It had a variety of names over the years and was one of the Chestnut pleasure canoes which also came in 14’ and 15’ lengths.  Until 1958, the 16’ pleasure canoe (called the Ajax or Moonlight) had a 34” beam.  Then, the mould was widened.  The economy version of the 16’ pleasure canoe had been called the Pal for several years (from about 1954).  The pleasure canoes came in both narrow and wide versions until about 1960 when the wider versions were adopted exclusively.  Over the years, the ribs of the pleasure canoes came in two different sizes – either 1½” wide and 3/8” thick with 1½” spaces between ribs or 2-3/8” wide and 3/8” thick with 2” spaces.  The 16′ was called the Pal or the Deer, the 15′ was called the Chum or the Doe and the 14′ was called the Playmate or the Fox.

The bottom has a shallow-arch hull with tumblehome extending through the entire length of the canoe.  The fine entry lines and moderate rocker make it very easy to paddle.  In his film, “Path of the Paddle: Solo Whitewater”, Bill Mason demonstrated very well that the Pal (or Deer) was not designed for Class 3 rapids.  But, that didn’t stop him from trying.  The Pal (or Deer) is a great general-purpose canoe and was the canoe of choice for many generations of canoeists – even if many of them called it a Chestnut Prospector.

The Chestnut Prospector – This is the real deal – often copied, never matched.  A quick search on the internet produces at least ten modern canoe companies with a “Prospector” in its catalogue.  However, the Chestnut Canoe Company invented this winning combination.  With high sides, substantial arch in the bottom and lots of rocker in the full ends, it is designed to transport heavy loads quickly through rapid rivers and large, challenging lakes.  It is essentially a deeper, wider Cruiser and is still regarded as the ultimate wilderness tripping canoe.  Like the Cruiser, many people unfamiliar with these canoes find it a little “tippy”.  The round bottom of the Prospector makes for a “shaky” feel when you first get in.  However, it becomes much more stable as weigh is loaded into the canoe — making it perfect for extended trips.  It also settles into a stable position when heeled over to one side.  As a result, many people love it as a solo canoe.

They were made in five lengths from 14’ to 18’.  The 16’ model has a 36” beam and a 14½” depth at the centre.  The 16’ model weighs 76 pounds and carries 850 pounds.  Although there is good tumblehome at the centre, the hull flares about 4’ from the ends in order to throw water away from the canoe while hitting big waves in rapid rivers.  The ribs are 2-3/8” wide, 3/8” thick with 2” spaces between them.

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All of this (and much more) is described in my book – This Old Canoe: How To Restore Your Wood Canvas Canoe.
If you live in Canada, CLICK HERE to buy the book.
If you live in the USA, CLICK HERE to buy the book.
If you live in the UK, CLICK HERE to buy the book.
Si vous habitez en France, CLIQUEZ ICI acheter le livre.