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B.N. Morris Canoe

Discussion in 'Serial Number Search' started by bcadreau, Aug 15, 2015.

  1. bcadreau

    bcadreau New Member

    I have a B.N. Morris canoe with the serial number 11603. It is a fifteen foot canoe with closed gunwhales. I would like to determine the year this canoe was built.

    B Cadeau
  2. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Congratulations on tracking down a Morris.
    I am attaching a link to the most current dating table. The table will give you an approximate date of build for your boat. I say approximate because the table has been based upon numerous assumptions and a few benchmark serial numbers and dates. You may read about this in related threads on this site. Search on Morris dating.
    There are no records remaining from BN Morris production so these estimates serve in their place..
    Using the table as a guide, your canoe looks like it dates from around 1914.

    Don't be surprised if Kathy tracks you down for pictures and also to learn a bit more about your boat. Typically she is interested to learn what types of decks are on the boat, how many cant ribs, where the Morris tag is positioned etc.

    BR, Mike
  3. OP

    bcadreau New Member

    Thanks for the table. I understood the closed gunwhales to date the canoe to a pre-1910. Any information about that?

    B Cadreau
  4. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    The closed rail boats were built well beyond 1910. I have seen 1915 and 1916 boats with closed rails. I have also seen 1915/16 boats with open rails. Mine (also 1914 ish) has closed rails. I don't believe that you can date one of these by the rail caps......

    I should have mentioned that Kathy has written a book about Morris. It's available from the WCHA. It's been a while since I read her proof and I have yet to buy a copy but if my memory serves, she does mention when open gunwale Morris canoes came about. I am attaching the link. You will learn a lot about Morris from her book.

    By they way, 15 footers are not real common. 16's and 17's turn up more frequently. In the last 50 years I have only seen a couple of those. Great find..... Do share some pictures.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2015
  5. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Thanks for the information on your Morris! I've added the serial number to a database that now contains about 350 Morris canoes, most of which have closed gunwales. Morris offered open wales as an option, but the standard Morris has closed wales. Morris canoes under 16 feet are less common. There are currently 12 in the database. Please note that a 15 foot Morris has only one thwart-- I've had a few folks tell me they had a 15 footer that turned out to be 16 feet long.

    If you can post pictures of your canoe, that would be helpful. Any canoe aids our research. 1914 is the year we begin seeing the curved deck on B.N. Morris canoes that gradually replaced the heart-shaped deck, so I'd like to know if your canoe has the heart or the curve-- or long decks. With canoes of this year, I'm also interested in knowing the orientation of the serial number plate on the stem-- whether the long edge of the plate is parallel to the end of the stem or if the plate is rotated so that the short edge is parallel to the stem... and anything unusual about your canoe, such as an intact decal.

    The Morris book is available from the WCHA Store, Amazon and perhaps elsewhere, with all profits to this organization.

    Some basic Morris information is located in the KnowledgeBase on this website and in a Wikipedia article at

  6. RMR

    RMR Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hello Kathy, my Morris number is 12286, Model A64, Type 1; except Mahogany outwales/gunwales, 17 feet.
    I believe it dates to around 1915, in the spirit of confusion/helping the mystery of the Morris serial numbers, is there any possibility that a code existed that was used which resulted in a four or five digit number being used?
    Such as a different length, wood type, etc., in addition to a 'normal' dating number set? This could all be my 'brain' having nothing better to do, but you never know! Cheers!
  7. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    it is a sequential serial number - nothing more, nothing less. Start at 1 (or 100, or 1000) and increment the serial number of each canoe built by 1. A common, and simple, numbering scheme.
  8. RMR

    RMR Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks Dan, it's good to know that the information is that 'simplified'. I'm still trying to find/decide a 'shop' with experience with Morris that is close by.
    Chicagoanland Canoe Base closed with Ralph Freese' passing and I would like to learn/assist with the restoration and being close would make that easier. One thing at a time.....
  9. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Hi-- I'm currently on the road, heading for an assembly at Gifford Pinchot park in PA with a canoe we just picked up on the outskirts of Washington DC. I've had limited internet access but we needed a night in a motel after a 15 hour drive from upper NH and big city traffic! Ahh the things we do for these precious floating objects (and this new old canoe will actually FLOAT without duct tape or other interventions).

    Morris initially didn't number their canoes and it appears they only began doing so in about 1900. Later builders such as PennYan built a code into their serial numbers, but I don't recall that any of the early builders did this--- it's just as Dan said, they began perhaps with #1 and numbered sequentially. The lowest Morris serial number, #69, is listed in the Old Town repair records. That canoe may not exist anymore, but Morris #70 was at the WCHA Assembly at Paul Smith's this past July.

    I know there are WCHA folks in the Chicago area, so someone may jump in here and suggest a builder/restorer to help with your Morris project!

    Today I'm paddling!

  10. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    It is interesting that the two builders whose complete build records survive did not start their serial numbers at one. Kennebec started at number 1000 in 1910 and Joe Seliga started at 100 in 1938. Kennebec filled in the first 1000 numbers later in duplicate starting with serial number one for a work boat in 1917 and also on an Aquaplane in 1931.

  11. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    Check out the Builders/Suppliers directory:
    No listings here in Illinois, but in Wisconsin... I don't know all of them, or their work, personally, but I know Dave Osborn & Ferdy Goode do pretty spectacular work... usually working alongside each other.
  12. Jan Bloom

    Jan Bloom LOVES Wooden Canoes

    RMR, lots of folks around. I am not to far away from the greater Chicago area in SW MI. There are a few of us on this area. I have a Morris, 17ft closed gunnels ca 1915.
  13. RMR

    RMR Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Perhaps you could message your contact/location info? I'd like to formulate a loose restoration timeline and plan.
    Also, have you any restoration experience?
    Thanks, Malcolm (RMR)
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2015
  14. Jan Bloom

    Jan Bloom LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Paw Paw, MI. One resto completed and 6 more to do plus I have one from scratch build. Fairly complete wood shop when I can find it.

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