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Introducing myself and two B. N. Morris canoes

Discussion in 'Open Forum' started by John Newkirk, Aug 19, 2017.

  1. John Newkirk

    John Newkirk New Member

    Greetings, fellow aficionados:

    I have the profound good fortune of having two 1905 B. N. Morris canoes in the family. They belonged to my father and each has a colorful history - mostly on Lake George, the Adirondacks, and Algonquin Park.

    The green one in particular (a 17-footer) needs to be re-canvassed, and I'm finding that what was probably routine maintenance 100 years ago has become a rare art that few seem to practice anymore. The blue one (16 feet with a Folsom plate) is in relatively good shape, albeit with a few small leaks near the bow and stern.

    I'd be interested in any tips or leads from WCHA members on how I might go about finding someone to work on these over the winter, preferably in the Adirondack area.

    Smooth waters,

    John J. Newkirk
    Lake George, New York

    Attached Files:

  2. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    I'd start with a look through the Builders & Suppliers Directory here:

    Kathy Klos/Campbell will probably be along shortly, as she's our resident expert on Morris canoes. She'll have lots of questions about serial numbers (which can lead to an estimated age of the canoes), as well as construction details.
  3. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

  4. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Welcome to the WCHA.

    When considering any restoration work, whether you plan to do it yourself or to hire a professional, there are three good sources of information about canoe restoration that you would do well to get, or at least look at, before making any decision about how to repair or restore your canoe:

    The Wood and Canvas Canoe: A Complete Guide to its History, Construction, Restoration, and Maintenance by Rollin Thurlow and Jerry Stelmok

    Building the Maine Guide Canoe by Jerry Stelmok

    This Old Canoe: How To Restore Your Wood-Canvas Canoe, by Mike Elliott

    The first is often called the "bible" of canoe repair, restoration, and maintenance; the second is an excellent study of the wooden/canvas canoe and its construction. The third is the most recently published and has been well received.

    Of course, you can always ask questions here on the forums. There is a good deal of information here on removing fiberglass.

    These books are available from the WCHA store, are often on eBay, or from Amazon and other book vendors.

  5. OP
    John Newkirk

    John Newkirk New Member

    Many thanks to all who have responded. I've followed up with a few of the resources mentioned and hope to have a reskinned Morris canoe in the water next summer.

    In the meantime, I'm off to Quetico for a week (in a modern kevlar canoe for now).

    Regards to all,

    John J. Newkirk
    Lake George, New York
  6. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Sorry I haven't replied sooner (been busy paddling these last nice summer days). You have two great canoes-- congratulations! I've been keeping records of known Morris canoes for several years now and what they've told me resulted in a book which you may already have found in the WCHA online store. I've entered Morris 3470 with the Folsom plate (there are only a handful of these known) and would like to know the number of cant rib pairs, as Morris went from two pairs to three in about 1905. I'd also like you to take another look at the serial number on your other Morris and confirm the numbers for me. If the serial number appears to be 3031, I suspect there is a "1" in the area between the tacks holding the serial number plate. Morris 3031 (which incidentally lived its life in the Adirondacks), is an existing 15 foot canoe with a Folsom plate. Also, the serial number plate on your canoe is rotated to a position seen on some Morris canoes from 1912 to 1916, and Morris 13031 would date to 1915. There are nearly 400 Morris canoes in the Morris database (out of more than 20,000 built) and you have two of them. Congratulations!

  7. Old_Paddler

    Old_Paddler Canoe nut


    I recently picked up a Folsom Arms plate on eBay - grabbing it because I figured someone who is restoring a Morris might need it.

    As a paddler and not a craftsman I have no interest in restoring any more wood canoes.
    I have my bucket list canoe, a 1934 15' Old Town 50lb - it "lived" 10 miles from where I got my love of canoes with Scouts over 50 years ago - thanks to Greg Nolan for helping me find it and hauling it from Maine.

    My role now is to rescue things that need to be rescued - such as the 1940 13' Old Town 50 lb that another WCHA member will be picking up in March. I sold it to him for half what someone else offered me - that guy was going to hang it for display.

    If you know someone who has been looking for one of these, let me know.


    Folsom Arms.jpg
  8. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    That's pretty nice... Folsom tags show up on all kinds of canoes, not just Morris... I've had several Old Towns with Folsom tags.. the tags were attached to any type of canoes they sold. You could probably use that on one of yours.
    The Morris tag that is in Kathy's book and the one that is included above are actually a serialized Morris tag ...not a generic Folsom tag. The Morris Folsom tags are pretty scarce..I've seen only two, the one that I gave Kathy a photo of and the one in this thread. I presume some of the more serious collectors and restorers have seen more of them..
  9. Old_Paddler

    Old_Paddler Canoe nut

    I have it on my wood paddle rack along with a Kineo Special tag (SN 2632), a couple of thwart plates from Canadian Canoe and Lakefield Canoe and an old Old Town pressed brass tag (vs. just painted).
    It's not appropriate to my canoe. Other tags used to be on the rack - until someone who needed it.
    The image on Dragonfly is why I decided to grab this one.
    I'm not really a collector - more of a "rescuer."
  10. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Being curious, I decided to check out 314 Broadway in Manhattan -- the address of Folsom Arms -- a spot about a 5 minute walk from where my pre-retirement office is. The building that Folsom occupied is long gone -- the space is now between two federal buildings, the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building and the Tedd Weiss Federal Building. Javits served 5 terms as a US Congressman, several years as the NY State Attorney General, and 3 terms as a US Senator -- well regarded and effective as a liberal Republican (a so-called "Rockefeller Republican"). Ted Weiss was an immigrant /refugee from Hungary in 1930 who, after several years in local politics including several years on the NY City Council, served in the US Congress between 1976 and 1992, where he was know by his colleagues as "the Conscience of the House" for his principled, if not always popular, stands (mostly liberal) on issues.

    manhattan sentinels.jpg

    The site where 314 once stood is occupied by a sculpture -- "Manhattan Sentinels" by Beverly Pepper, well-regarded for her many monumental abstract sculptures.
    Old_Paddler likes this.
  11. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    There were a few hangers from the OP...
    Serial number confirmation
    Canoe re-canvas etc..

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