Help support the WCHA Forums by making a tax-deductible donation!

Paddles from the 1920's might look like?

Discussion in 'Paddles and Paddle Making' started by Feathers, May 10, 2014.

  1. Feathers

    Feathers LOVES Wooden Canoes

    My wife and I recently purchased a 1920's St. Louis Meramec and we have been out paddling it a few times already. We are enjoying the old canoe a lot. We have some wood paddles but they're brand new and they just don't seem/ feel right sitting next to the canoe. I haven't found much on the history of paddles. Is there such a thing or have there always been so many variations that there is no sequence to speak of? What might paddles from that era looked like?
  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The St. Louis Meramec catalogs from the collection at can give you some idea what their paddles looked like as shown below from 1925. Caleb Davis in very well known for paddles and his video at may help if you want to make your own and his web site at has more information.

    The paddles on the right side of the other attached image below are what Old Town paddles from that era looked like. There are many variations with no obvious sequence. Paddles tend to be even harder to date than canoes. The decals on some paddles can provide a rough indication of the era as described at for example. Shaw & Tenney has a good assortment of traditional paddles as shown at if you want a new one in an old style. Paddle preferences tend to be very personal so there are lots of variations.


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 10, 2014
  3. Murat V

    Murat V LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Paddles shapes tended to vary slightly from region to region influenced by native designs of the locality. But with the boom of social canoeing in the pre ww1 years and canoe companies mechanising the paddle-making process, you tended to see enlarged beavertails with tiny pear shaped grips. I'm sure if you looked at old catalogs you'd see some basic designs. If I recall, Chestnut used to have 2 designs (Style A or B) that were advertised in some of their catalogs.

    By the way, I've been posting about various historically interesting (to me anyway) paddle photos for a while now. If you click HERE, you'll go to my archive page with lots of photos (not just from the 1920s) which will show the variation in blade and grip shapes. Maybe that'll help you pick a design you like and inspire you to carve your own.
  4. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Shaw & Tenney is another option to consider.
    Once you chose the style you are interested in you might take a look to see if they offer it.
    Their products are well regarded and although new they share the Shaw & Tenney provenance.
    Their paddles tend to be used but treasured.
    Pricey but worth every penny.
  5. OP

    Feathers LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for all the advice. Very interesting links and information. I would love to build my own paddles- in fact I picked up a paddle making book at Canoecopia this year. But, it will be a while before I have time to start into something like that so some of the links for purchasing a paddle may prove useful.

Share This Page