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Thompson Brothers Boat Manufacturing Company

Discussion in 'Wood Canoe Manufacturers' started by Dan Miller, Oct 16, 2012.

  1. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    <H=1>The Thompson Brothers Boat Manufacturing Company</H>The Thompson Brothers Boat Manufacturing Company of Peshtigo, Wisconsin was founded in 1904 by Peter and Christ Thompson. Peter had learned boat building by previously working for the <manufacturers>Racine Boat Manufacturing Company</manufacturers> and for Chris Smith, founder of Chris-Craft. In 1924, Thompson Brothers expanded and added a second factory located in Cortland, New York. Thompson Brothers built wood canoes through 1962.

    <H=2>Identifying Features:</H>
    •Distinctive deck profile
    •Distinctive planking pattern
    •Distinctive stem profile during certain time periods
    •Metal strap joining gunwales under deck
    •If half ribs present, stringer covers ends of half ribs

    <H=2>Thompson Brothers Canoe Models</H>
    •Indian Model: Standard Thompson model, does not have half ribs.
    •Hiawatha Model: Built on the same mold as the Indian Model, has half ribs with ends covered by stringer.
    •Ranger Model: This model has a very flat sheer.

    <H=2>Dating the Thompson Hiawatha</H>
    by Dave Osborn (email

    Using the Thompson Brothers Boat Company CD-ROM by Dan Miller and Benson Gray, I developed a matrix by year, seat, thwart, and gunwale materials used. I was able to determine that my 18′ Hiawatha was built in 1922 or 1923 (assuming they never ever substituted materials in other years). The Thompson Digital Catalog Collection, which is a nearly complete collection of Thompson Brothers catalogs, is available from the WCHA On-line Store. Thanks to Dan and Benson’s efforts, some of us Thompson owners can now zero in on our canoe’s origins.

    <TABLE="class: grid, width: 500, align: center"><TR><TD>YEAR</TD><TD>THWARTS</TD><TD>SEATS</TD><TD>GUNWALES</TD></TR><TR><TD>1921<SUP>*</SUP></TD><TD>white oak</TD><TD>white oak</TD><TD>spruce</TD></TR><TR><TD>1922</TD><TD>white oak</TD><TD>white oak</TD><TD>spruce</TD></TR><TR><TD>1923</TD><TD>white oak</TD><TD>white oak</TD><TD>spruce</TD></TR><TR><TD>1924</TD><TD>selected maple</TD><TD>selected maple</TD><TD>spruce</TD></TR><TR><TD>1928</TD><TD>selected maple</TD><TD>selected maple</TD><TD>spruce</TD></TR><TR><TD>1929</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>spruce</TD></TR><TR><TD>1930</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>spruce</TD></TR><TR><TD>1931</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>spruce</TD></TR><TR><TD>1932</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>spruce</TD></TR><TR><TD>1933</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>spruce</TD></TR><TR><TD>1934</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>spruce</TD></TR><TR><TD>1935</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>spruce</TD></TR><TR><TD>1937</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>spruce</TD></TR><TR><TD>1939</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>mahogany</TD></TR><TR><TD>1940</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>mahogany</TD></TR><TR><TD>1941<SUP>***</SUP></TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>white maple</TD><TD>mahogany</TD></TR><TR><TD>1942</TD><TD>mahogany</TD><TD>white oak</TD><TD>mahogany</TD></TR><TR><TD>1943</TD><TD>mahogany</TD><TD>white oak</TD><TD>mahogany</TD></TR></TABLE>Notes:
    * only available in 16′ and 17′ lengths
    ** 30″ decks of cedar or mahogany were available in all production years
    *** art work in 1941 catalog and later show narrow half ribs

    Last edited by a moderator: May 26, 2017
  2. RVaughn

    RVaughn New Member

    I have my grandfathers Thompson canoe, has been restored. New canvas, leaded and leaded paint. Fantastic shape and I have original purchase papers as it was bought and shipped to him in Detroit by train. Any interest out there in purchasing it! I hate seeing it just hanging in my garage.
  3. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    Skip Gibson of Detroit was looking for one awhile ago.

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