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New Antique Boat Evaluation

Discussion in 'Research and History' started by Townsend Belisle, Apr 21, 2020.

  1. Townsend Belisle

    Townsend Belisle New Member

    Hi there. I'm an enthusiast and bought a half-refinished antique canoe at a yard sale last year.

    I find the wood work stunning and do not expect this boat to be water ready. But there isn't any provenance with the boat at all, and I'm hoping a few seasoned experts might help me identify the roots or any context regarding this beauty. I may soon sell it - but I'm afraid it is best as a trophy antique (hang from the rafters?) than a functional flagship.

    I would be grateful for any thoughts. Photos attached.

    Attached Files:

  2. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Townsend. Your canoe looks very restorable and as though it could become functional again.
    The "cedar strip" canoes are a very distinct style of wooden canoe that have been made with virtually the same methods for over 120 years. The history of these boats and the companies who built them is very interesting. You can start your study by visiting the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough when it reopens...and until then by visiting their website.
    This old thread also offers some interesting reading:
    Since this style of canoe was built by several companies it can take a bit of detective work to pin down the age and builder. There were such canoes built in the 50's that look exactly like boats built in the teens. Sometimes the canoe gives you the clues you need. The thwarts (the internal cross braces that go rail to rail) are secured between wooden blocks. There are screws that pass through little metal plates from outside the hull into those blocks. Sometimes the plates are marked with the builders name. Take a look and see what you find. The thwart blocks are also marked on some of them or you might find tags or decals on the decks or the deck combings (the semi-circular trip pieces attached on the inside radius of the decks). Take a peek and see what you find. You might need to remove one (or more) of the thwart tags to find out what you have.
    There are several regulars on this site who are very knowledgeable about this type of canoe. If you post some more photos of the decks, thwarts, and other details you will help them to figure out the maker of your boat.
  3. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

  4. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Your canoe looks in fine shape. I wouldn't call it "half finished" as that "all wood" construction type would not have been covered in canvas. The red shade may be because it was painted red at one time, and the paint used stained the wood. I have tried to strip/clean a canoe like that. It will never be natural wood colour again, without sanding off too much thickness. I suggest you leave it with that vintage patina.

    It looks water worthy to me, though being all wood construction, it will benefit from filling it with a couple of inches of water for a couple of hours before use to promote the swelling shut of the seams.
  5. OP
    Townsend Belisle

    Townsend Belisle New Member

    MCG, Benson, Rob,

    Your thoughts are refreshing and very helpful, thank you. I'll try to post some additional pictures in the near future and REALLY appreciate your time and insights.

    I noticed numerous listings for not-so-similar boats on WCHA and eBay. I wonder also if there are a) ideal restorers on the forum who would take a canoe I paid $2K for and bring it to a place that makes it most appealing to a buyer and b) if you sense there are buyers for such a product at such a price.
  6. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    From what I can see, (not able to evaluate the soundness of the wood from photos) it looks like it just needs a cleaning, light sanding and a few coats of marine spar varnish.
  7. OP
    Townsend Belisle

    Townsend Belisle New Member

  8. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    There are many restorers listed at who would be happy to work on your canoe. This can range from a simple cleaning, minor repairs, or a full 'make it like new again' restoration. The prices will vary accordingly and probably be much higher that the usual range for a wood/canvas canoe since all wood canoes are less common and frequently more difficult to repair.

    There are buyers for everything but you may not live long enough to find the right one if your price is exceptionally high. The general rule of thumb is to do nothing beyond a gentle cleaning with soap and water if your plan is to sell it.

    You will also need to do some research to figure out exactly what you have if you want to price it well. Older canoes are generally worth more so you will need to determine a good idea about who made it and when. Good luck and let us know what you discover,

  9. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    A1 - yes there are many pro-restorers
    A2 - No, it's most appealing as it is now.

    B - Few and far between. The quickest way to loose money on a canoe is to have it restored.

  10. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    You have a great score, if the yard sale price is as thrifty as i imagine. Moreover, the boat was stored propertly and looks to need little to no repair work as tips and decks etc are all solid. It would absolutely be a great flagship, after a thorough stripping and varnishing. Its a lot of work but will take the boat to a functional and durable state and they are beautiful when done, with a value that typically exceeds that of a cedar canvas canoe. I've done several and they are real eye catchers with the copper nails and varnished cedar. Stripping is a chore, but the reward is worth it.

    Attached Files:

  11. JClearwater

    JClearwater Wooden Canoe Maniac

    I have to start going to a better class of yard sales. The only canoes I've seen at yard sales were ready for the burn pile and the owner still wanted major $$$ for.
    Benson Gray likes this.
  12. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I thought TB said he paid 2K for the boat . I think he should do the work and have a beaut, but he would be hard pressed to profit if his labor is worth anything.
    Dave, just sayin.
  13. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    he would be hard pressed to profit A truer phrase has never been spoken concerning wooden canoes, or boats for that matter. Bravo Dave!
  14. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    "he would be hard pressed to profit A truer phrase has never been spoken concerning wooden canoes, or boats for that matter."

    A few years ago my son was buying a few canoes and fixing them up a bit and selling them...or just flipping them when he got them for the right price. At some point he got the Grady White/Chris Craft disease and started to gin up a plan to restore a runabout. I had restored one years ago so he sent me a few pictures to of it review. I hope he will always remember my advice...."when you get the urge to buy a wood hull classic boat, don't. Instead, go out in the back yard with a shovel and pile of cash. Dig a deep hole and throw however much money the boat will cost in the ground and bury it. Step back and count your blessings. You just saved yourself a ton of money."
    Dan Lindberg likes this.

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