63430 OT Build Record

Don: The Old Town canoe with serial number 63430 is an 18 foot long, CS grade, OTCA model with Western red cedar planking, open spruce gunwales, birch decks, thwarts and seats. The canoe was built between Nov, 1920 and March, 1921. The original exterior paint color was dark green. It was shipped on May 24th, 1921 to Minnesota. A scan of this build record can be found by following the link at the attached thumbnail image below.

These scans were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA) and others. A description of the project to preserve these records is available at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/records/ if you want more details. I hope that you will join or renew your membership to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See http://www.wcha.org/wcha/ to learn more about the WCHA and http://www.wcha.org/join.html to join.

It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match your canoe. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions.

- Al


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OT 63430 Restoration

Thanks for the reply Al.
I have started to restore the canoe and have removed one of the decks. On the underside I found the letters CRRe plus and additional unidentifiable character and am wondering if it was some kind of mark put on during the build process and what its significance might be.
I also wonder how much latitude one has when doing a restoration. Is it permissible to change the wood species, ie the gunwales from spruce to something else perhaps mahagony. We are just getting into it so I am sure to have more questions.
Thanks again,
Don Sable
Don: I'm not familiar with the markings you describe. They may represent an attempt to mark ownership (similar to an owner ID today), possibly a livery. I've seen hulls marked under the canvas by people who have restored a given canoe, but nothing under the deck. Other members may chime in with their experiences.

Restoration latitude runs the full gamut, from people who want the canoe to be better than when it was new using only the original species, to people who are looking for a functional restoration to get the boat back on the water. My opinion, unless the canoe has significant historic or personal value I try to match the original but if the material is not available I'll use something else. Old Town produced 3 grades of canoes (AA, common sense and guide) and used mahogany for their AA grade boats. Probably only our group would realize that you replaced the spruce gunwales with mahogany on a CS grade boat. It goes back to your preference original vs functional.

Do not hesitate to ask your restoration questions here. This is what the forum is for. Try the search function first, many times a problem that seems unique to you may have been asked before. If not, ask away, one of the special characteristics of this membership is the willingness of our members to share their talent and experiences. It is not unusual for some of the best known restorers/builders to reply with in depth explanations as to how to resolve your given problem or answer your particular question. Everyone is in it for the same reason to promote our passion of w/c and birch bark canoes.

Welcome aboard,

Since starting my restoration on the OTCA I have done some research on the origional owner "Robert B Reed". At the time the canoe was purchased Mr Reed had a son Clarence R Reed who was about 16 years old. I believe that the CRRe written under the deck was Clarence's identification mark. Also interesting is that Robert Reed was the first graduate from North Dakota Agricultural College (now North Dakota State University) in Fargo ND and has had a building named in his honor. The build record shows that two paddles were also deliverd with the canoe. I believe that I also have those paddles. Just passing along some added info that I thought was interesting.
Don Sable