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A new discovery - early Chestnut Canoe Co. sample, ca. 1910

Discussion in 'Scale and Miniature Canoe Models' started by Roger Young, Oct 2, 2021.

  1. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    I have been contacted this past week by a very nice lady in Northwestern Ontario. Turns out she owns a lovely, early Chestnut Canoe Co. factory sample. It comes with some slight damage, but more than makes up for that in its truly wonderful provenance. Her great-grandfather was the Hudson's Bay Co. factor in Temagami in the early 1900's; he was also an authorized outlet for Chestnut canoes. Can't get much more solid than that. This is another 7' 1" display sample, similar in all respects to the previous 5 known such items to show up so far. It is likely a half-size version of the Chestnut 'Peach'. One end has suffered some tears to its canvas, but no significant structural damage. It appears to be in original dark green paint, and bears the nicest pre-fire decal I have seen to date. Note: the decal makes no mention of 'Patent date', (1905), as do the later versions, leaving open the question of just how early this piece might actually be. I have tentatively suggested giving it a fairly conservative "ca. 1910". This piece has resided in the same family since new, and is a treasured heirloom; NFS. It comes with a pair of full-size bird's eye maple paddles, fabulous collectibles in their own right. Thought I'd like to share this with you.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 2, 2021
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  2. Graham

    Graham Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Wow, great find, what a clear version of the decal. Probably not a Peach, more likely an Ajax, since it has two thwarts. And since the Ajax predates the Peach, it might be older.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    Please tell me more about the "Ajax", Graham. I'm in the midst of doing my book on display sample canoes, and would like to be as accurate as possible. It was Dick Persson who first suggested the possible link to the "Peach". There are now six identical Chestnut samples which have shown up; all have the same characteristics and measurements; all have two thwarts. Given that the "Peach" was apparently a 14' 2" length, Dick seemed to feel that these samples, at 7' 1" length, were a half-size version. I am unaware of any other Chestnut samples of any different size, or lay-out. Thanks for any info you care to add. Roger

    PS: I agree about the decal; best example of the 'pre-fire' iteration I have ever come across. Thought everyone might enjoy seeing.
     
  4. Graham

    Graham Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Hi Roger, my thoughts are that the samples probably would have been for the best selling canoes, and prior to 1910, there were only 16-18 foot models. The earliest Little/Peach references I have found are post 1910 (as I have an early closed (inside) gunnel Little/Peach and spent some time a few years ago researching the model). The model lineup expanded significantly with the new premises.

    Early advertising for Chestnut shows "R. Chestnut and Sons" as the company name up until 1908, when it changed to "The Chestnut Canoe Co., Limited", and in 1910 they dropped the "The", and called it "Chestnut Canoe Co, Limited". For the decals, I doubt they were varied as much, and the "The" may have never been used. And the "Limited"
    So far the sample looks like 1908or after ...or it wouldn't have had the "Co". Or would it ?

    The reason I suggest it's an Ajax is that the two thwarts are a fairly major feature of that model, and it's clearly a pleasure model with the heart shaped decks and upswept ends. This model was well advertised from 1905 onwards, along with the cruisers.

    The catalogs from the teens appear to show the "next?" version of the deck decal, that looks very similar but has the patent date at the bottom. Several authenticated versions of this one appear on pre-1920 fire models, including a 1914 Peach that Dick restored. It is a more complex decal with the printing outlined in gold. That said, it may have been too large to put on a sample canoe, as it fully fills a 16' cruiser deck.

    You asked for some info :) Hope something in there is of some help. Looking forward to your book!

    ... for clarity, the Peach only has a single thwart
     

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    Last edited: Oct 3, 2021
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  5. Graham

    Graham Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    another note for dating... the 1908 catalogue shows the source you mentioned, Temagami Post, Ont.

    upload_2021-10-3_16-13-34.png
     
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  6. OP
    OP
    Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    Many Thanks Graham for all the above. The Chestnut outlet list confirms what the owner of the sample canoe told me; her great-grandfather was factor at the HBC Temagami Post around this time. As for whether the sample is a miniature version of either the "Ajax" or the "Peach", I really doubt that it matters much. Basically, it is an authentic Chestnut "display sample" rather than "salesman's sample", and there were very few of them ever made - only six have so far turned up, made by Chestnut. And even fewer by other Canadian manufacturers; I reckon less than 20, in total, by all early Canadian canoe manufacturers combined. In the US, the figure is likely closer to 250 by all American factories combined, prior to WWII. That's not very many, considering the number of vendors and the 40-year period during which they were mostly issued. Half the American samples are by Old Town, alone, and another quarter by Kennebec. I believe the intent of most was simply to turn out something of a 'generic' miniature version for display purposes, rather than an exact smaller model of a particular full-size item. To do the latter would seemingly suggest that far more samples should be 'out there', whereas they do not appear to be. Old Town Canoe, by far the largest issuer of samples, never called them "salesman's samples", and only ever referred to them as "sign canoes" or "display" items. More background will appear in my book, if it gets to print; I also hope to include photos of the early decals, catalogs, factory pics as well as some of the early builders themselves, along with the "samples" they created.

    Thanks again for your input.
    Cheers
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2021
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  7. bluedcanoed

    bluedcanoed LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Thanks as always for sharing your new examples of Chestnut and Peterborough Canoes
     

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