25' War Canoe - Id?

Paul Fopeano

Here's my latest project -- This is the 25' War Canoe that Chris Dalton at Berkshire Wooden Boat gave away. It has made its way to its' new home in Southern Maine and is now under going some intensive study in order to come up with a realistic rebuild plan. It bears many years of damage brought on by poor storage. Earlier attempts at keeping her on the water have pretty much failed. There are no markings of any kind. The stems are pretty much gone and although I think that the plywood deck shown in the photo is original it bears no markings nor does it resemble some of the reenforced decks I have seen on this forum.

Its' 6 seats with their braces to the keelston are not unusual but how the seats are supported by almost full length seat hangers is not what I am use to seeing. It does seem to be a good idea to avoid heavy bolts through the rather light (1 1/8" X 7/8") spruce gunwales. It has 70, 2 1/2 X 3/8" untapered ribs and 3 3/4" red cedar planking. The best dimensions I can come up with given the poor shape she is in is about 46" wide and 18" deep with about 36" rise at the stems. The majority of the bronze slotted screws fastening the open gunwales are driven from the inside out similar to some by Canadian builders.

After a couple of days of tearing out I don't believe that this canoe was made by the best builder or that it is all that old. The simple decks, although very economical, just don't call out quality like that of OT and others. The hull is covered with FG now, but what remains of the planking looks to be well enough done.

Once I get her a little straighter, I'll take advantage of its' relatively great depth and cut off the ribs just below the old rails. That will eliminate all the damage that the heavy screws did to the rib tops and save several of the old ribs that would otherwise be marked for replacement. I'll still have a canoe that is deeper that OT's 14 1/2" deep 25' war canoe. I'll be doing exactly what I did to a 17' OCTA that sat with its gunwales in the dirt for decades.

Any ideas who made this old boat? I think that I can come up with enough to rebuild her with what I've got but a few more details can't hurt.

The next time any WCHA member or just plain lover of wood and canvas canoes is in Southern Maine please feel free to stop by our place - the Academy Street Inn in South Berwick and I'd love to show you what I've got going on. I'm also working on a 15' solo WC canoe. So far, I've pulled 2 off a mold of my own design and I hope to get it right with hulls 3 & 4 this winter.

(Photos will have to wait until I can figure out how to do it!)
War Canoe Photos

The first photo gives you a sense of scale of the thing -- that is a 15' 4" cw solo canoe inside the war canoe. The second shows the original deck and a small part of the seat hanger.


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I agree that it doesn't look like an Old Town and the lack of a serial number means that you may never know for sure. The dimensions are close to the Kennebec war canoe model listed in their 1923 catalog as shown below.

More information about this and other Kennebec models can be found in the Kennebec catalogs contained on the Historic Wood Canoe and Boat Company Catalog Collection CDs available from http://www.wcha.org/catalog/ and http://www.dragonflycanoe.com/cdrom.htm on the web.

Please keep us posted here on your progress and if you find anything else about it.



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25' War Canoe

Thank you Benson. The war canoe will be a long term project. So far it has its own rolling work bench and it has lost some of the glass. I have been pleasantly surprised at how well some of the planking has survived.

I have ordered the reprint of the Kennebec catalog and look forward to seeing what this old thing might have looked like - back in the day.