1970 Chestnut Guide


Canoe Builder
This canoe was bought new in White Horse, Yukon Territories, Canada in 1970. It needed 5 ribs, about 24' of planking, 1 inwale splice, reattachment of first 4 bow ribs to stem, canvas, seat caning, and refinishing. The question is, after stripping I found a serial # on the stern stem 74032. My understanding was Chestnut did not use serial numbers. Any ideas? Pete


  • IMG_8659.JPG
    282 KB · Views: 785
  • IMG_85311.JPG
    222.5 KB · Views: 978
  • IMG_8537.JPG
    245.1 KB · Views: 759
  • IMG_8607.JPG
    262 KB · Views: 962

The wide ribs and stem profile suggest that the canoe is a Chestnut Ogilvy model.
Chestnut S/N's


I believe Fitz is spot on with the Chestnut Ogilvy model ID. He recently restored one. As to Chestnuts having S/N's, they did . My Chestnut Chum/Doe model has a S/N.


Yeah, it could be a Guide Special. They have 2-3/8's inch wide ribs. Also the stem profile looked a bit off from an Ogilvy. Although, I thought the ribs looked wider in the photos. Ogilvies have 3 inch ribs.
I would agree that this canoe could be a Guide Special....as for serial numbers on Chestnuts was this not done on some later Chestnuts???? In the 70s????
I have an 18 foot Ogilvy. I would tend to agree with Fitz, based on the photo of interior that shows a very flat bottomed canoe--Ogilvy's trademark. How long is it? I see 2 original thwarts--no center thwart? Also close spacing of ribs is characteristic.
Most Chestnut canoes were never marked with a serial number. Those that were used different schemes over the years. Some are strictly numbers; others include letters like “P”, and “C” as well as part names like OGILV, FREIGHT and GUIDE .
Serial numbers were not used until sometime after the 2nd world war, most likely not until early 50's. No records are known to survive, so we cannot learn anything from the numbers themselves. I also agree with Fitz this is most likely an Ogilvy, the Guide Special has a much rounder bottom.

Dick Persson
Buckhorn Canoe Company
Buckhorn, Ontario
Last edited:
Thanks Dick for answering re:Chestnut serial numbers....and after looking at photo of interior much closer, I would have to agree that the bottom is too flat to be Guides Special....so I change my earlier 'vote' to an Ogilvy....that's the great thing with WCHA forum....so many great folks with so much great info to share....BTW, I also would like to know more re:dimensions
1970 Chestnut

Thanks for all the responses,

The canoe is 16' long, 36" beam, and 13" deep at the center thwart. The ribs are 2 7/8" in the center and closely spaced. It has a center thwart and one between the rear seat and the center. The ones shown in the picture are just temporaries while I revarnish the seat frames and thwarts.
Thanks, Pete

For reference, here is the Ogilvy Henry that the Norumbega Chapter restored for the 2010 Assembly Auction.

This one was 1964 vintage, originally painted Chestnut gray green. The serial number and format was 46-55407, stamped into the stem.


  • Completed2Edit.jpg
    351.7 KB · Views: 1,035
I asked about length because my 18-footer has a coffee table for a center thwart, like 4-5 inches wide. I think the wide thwart was to resist springback of all those big heavy ribs. But it looks like they didn't do that with 16 footers. I think the stem curve is very much like an Ogilvy.

I noticed in one of your photos that the bow seat hanger bolts appear to be splayed-in. I am restoring a Canadian Canoe Co. vee stern that has the same issue. The hanger bolts are bent and angled in toward the center line at least an inch, and the rails appear to be pulled in by the center thwart. It was suggested to me that the bow seat does not provide any lateral support to the gunwales because it is hung by the bolts, and so the first line of support moving aft from the bow is the center thwart. I tried tightening a bar clamp across the gunwales just behind the bow seat and succeeded in almost restoring the boat's fair shape along the gunwales. So, I plan on constructing a behind-the-bow-seat thwart. I was wondering how you were handling this.


Hi Folks,

Attached are a few more pictures. Larry, the center thwart on this canoe is
2 3/8" on center. Shelldrake, I noticed right away the front seat frame was too short. After removing the front seat I sighted along the gunnel and it as fair, so I lenghtened the front seat frame with a lap joint to allow the bolts to be vertical and the seat to provide some structual support. Why it was built this way I have no idea. Pete


  • IMG_8665.JPG
    232.4 KB · Views: 475
  • IMG_8666.JPG
    276 KB · Views: 460
  • IMG_8667.JPG
    460 KB · Views: 469
Thanks Pete. Maybe the too short seats was a Chestnut/Canadian thing. Mine is a slat seat, so I think I'll have to construct a new seat with longer slats.

I worked on an Ogilvy with the same seat issue. The gunwales were actually pulling away at the deck as well. I attributed it to having no forward thwart and the thick heavy ribs wanting trying to return back to flat. I added a forward thwart, behind the bow seat, pulling the wales back into position. The second photo shows the seat in the proper position under the inwales and the newly added thwart.


  • seat.jpg
    97.8 KB · Views: 529
  • 100_0569.jpg
    109.1 KB · Views: 651
Last edited:
Ogilvy=guide canoe?

One feature of the coffee table center thwart was that it accommodated two carriage bolts on each side, so four altogether, again I think to keep the ribs from unfolding. I would have to go look but I think my Ogilvy has two very short thwarts just abaft the decks.

This may wander a bit but this may be a chance to straighten out some thinking about the Ogilvy model and the nature of guide canoes. I got the Ogilvy from my father-in-law when he died and I know he habitually thought of it as a guide canoe. Where things get murky is that I think there's a difference between a guide canoe as in “a canoe a paddler as good as a professional guide would own” and “a canoe a guide would use when guiding.” The Ogilvy was designed for guides from New Brunswick to take duffs out fishing for Salmon. So it was flat-bottomed and super stable. The guide knew he had a a guy in the front who was an inexperienced paddler and he didn't want to dump him in the water. He wanted a safe canoe—like a bicycle with training wheels--not necessarily one fast and agile.

So I am wondering what people are thinking when they think “guide canoe”--one an accomplished paddler would own or a bicycle with training wheels?
Hi guys , I'm from NB and have owned 5 Ogilvy's and presenty own 3 .

The wide center thwart on the larger Ogilvy's is for the guide to sit on while the canoe is anchored when fishing . This lightens the upriver end (stern) and keeps the canoe from fishtailing in the river curent . The flat bottom is for both stability (often you are standing when casting flys) and to allow for a shallow draft when poling through shallow water .

Chestnut built a "guides Special" which was the "Cruiser" model but built with wider (3") ribs .

Really enjoy the site , have been visiting for years .

20' Ogilvy , Upsalquitch R.

Last edited:
In 1931, Chestnut introduced the Ogilvy, designed as you said for guides in New Brunswick (as well as elsewhere Down East)....and the type of use specific to their waters....fishing and canoeing in shallow rivers of the kind common to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and the Gaspe....Roger MacGregor in his book When The Chestnut Was In Flower has an entire chapter to this model of canoe....it was especially flat so it drew only a few inches of water. This made it well suited to rivers filled with shallow stretches, gravel bars and rocky beds. It could be poled up heavy rapids with minumum effort. Because of its steadiness, sportsmen casting for trout or salmon could comfortably stand while they fished. The flat floor was also intended as comfort to the guides, who otherwise poled the canoes with their feet braced at odd angles against the Vee of the stern.....or as James Raffan wrote in Bark, Skin and Cedar, this canoe's principal virtue....was its all-round capability of going down river, in rapids or in flatwater, but also, because of its relatively flat bottom and shallow draft, its ability to perform when being poled up river. A big man could stand firm on the ample floor of the canoe and make the canoe shiver or surge through downstream Vs with only minimal risk of losing balance. (As an aside, in Bark, Skin and Cedar, there is an interesting debate too over whether Chestnut 'copied' the Ogilvy from a Vic Miller canoe....one of the Ogilvy brothers was also one of the first proud owners of Vic Miller's canoes....and Harry Chestnut was a client....so did Chestnut 'borrow' Miller's design????....the Millers claim the Chestnut Ogilvy is just a flawed Miller sold under another name.....Don Fraser says he is unaware of any such pilfering on Chestnut's part, saying the canoes don't look at all alike....of course the Miller family claim: Of course they don't look alike! Chestnut didn't get it right. )

As for other guide canoes, or at least other Chestnut models, there were the Cruisers and the essentially same yet closer ribbed version, the Guides' Specials (built on the same forms but marketed separately by Chestnut as distinct models, even though any Chestnut was available in a close ribbed version)....Ken Solway noted in The Story of the Chestnut Canoe (while we have come to know the Cruisers and the Guides' Specials as a fast and extremely responsive craft due to a narrow, rounded hull) that in the 1905 catalog that the Cruisers and Guides' Specials were actually wider than Pleasure models....and that Guides' Special was described as a flatter bottomed river canoe (for use described in the 1905 catalog much in the way of the later Ogilvy).....but that this all appears to change once the extremely flat-bottomed "fishing canoes" were introduced....to the rounder, slightly rockered, narrow canoes most of us think of.....it also appears that the Cruiser canoes could be ordered built two or three inches deeper than standard; this was suggested in 1919 catalog for those looking for a canoe that was in between the fast and light Cruiser that didn't carry much and the slower Freighter; a canoe that later developed into a distinct model we know as the Prospector....the canoe Tom Thomson used, and others who guided in the lakes and rivers of the Canadian Shield, such as Algonquin, prior to 1923 when the Prospector was introduced, was likely such a version of canoe.

So there were at least two 'guide' canoes from Chestnut....one for use Down East, patterned after Maine "Guide" canoes....the other more suited for use in areas such as the Shield lake country as in Ontario.
Last edited: