November 21, 2016
by Mike Elliott, Kettle River Canoes
In my last blog article, I put out a request for “fancy” old canoes to restore and document as part of my second book ̶ This Fancy Old Canoe. That was three weeks ago. Since then, I have been contacted by a number of people. Now, several “fancy” canoes are about to come into the shop. They are:
1) A 16′ Model B, Type 2 B.N. Morris Canoe circa 1913
This canoe is fitted with 24″ framed decks. It will be restored to its original condition.
2) A 17′ Willits Canoe circa 1939
Willits canoes were built in Tacoma, Washington from 1906 to 1963. Only one model of Willits canoe was ever produced ̶ a 17′ canoe with a double-planked hull. Transverse planks were fitted in the interior while longitudinal planks were attached to the exterior with 7,000 copper tacks. A thin layer of cotton muslin soaked in pine tar was stretched over the hull and sandwiched between the two layers of planking in order to create a waterproof vessel. The result was a truly gorgeous canoe that is very similar to those built by Rice Lake Canoe Company near Cobourg, Ontario (circa 1862 to 1920).
3) A 16′ Longitudinal Strip Canoe circa 1930
This canoe has yet to arrive in the shop, so I do not know which company built it. Several companies (Peterborough, Lakefield, Strickland, English, Canadian and others) in and around Peterborough, Ontario built these all-wood cedar-strip canoes from the late 1800’s until about 1960.
4) An 18′ Old Town Sponson Canoe circa 1965
This canoe belongs to a summer camp and was fitted with sponsons ̶ floatation chambers attached just below the outwales on both sides of the canoe. It may also have a sailing rig.
These canoes, along with a 16′ J.R. Rushton Indian Girl Canoe circa 1905 with closed gunwales, comprise most of the “fancy” features that I plan to document in my second book. The one canoe I would like to restore and do not have lined up yet is a Raised-Batten Wide-Board Canoe.
This is one of the first types of ‘carpentered’ canoe ever designed. They were one of the all-wood canoes constructed in the Peterborough region of Ontario starting in the 1860’s. The hull was constructed by first steam-bending ribs onto a solid wood mould and then attaching four wide basswood planks on each side of the canoe. Most of these canoes were painted although some were varnished.
If you happen to have one of these canoes and you are able to get it to my shop in Grand Forks, BC, I will restore it for the cost of materials. My main focus is on the opportunity to restore one of these canoes, so the cost to you is entirely negotiable.
Be sure to get your copy of my book – This Old Canoe: How To Restore Your Wood Canvas Canoe.
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