An all original Pal & the benefits of good storage

Douglas Ingram

Red River Canoe & Paddle
If anyone ever doubts the benefits of good storage on the health of a wood canoe, here is undisputed evidence.

This is an original Chestnut Pal. When I say original, I mean the original slim version, not the fat modern version that I see so often. By saying original, I am also saying that nothing has ever been done to this canoe, except fresh paint. This is the original early 1960's canvas, varnish, etc.

Its also notable for the lack of deformation caused by the too small decks, thwarts, and seats, found on later Pals. Bird's Eye maple decks, palin maple thwarts, and ash seat frames. Narrow ribbed model with Spruce gunnels.

Its in for a new canvas and repairs to a few craked ribs. I wish they were all this nice when they come in!


  • IMG_3686.JPG
    29.9 KB · Views: 572
  • IMG_3687.JPG
    30.4 KB · Views: 523
  • IMG_3689.JPG
    29.4 KB · Views: 500
  • IMG_3690.JPG
    28.7 KB · Views: 536
  • IMG_3698.JPG
    20.8 KB · Views: 502
Chestnut Deer or Pal?

It was originally my understanding that the dimensions were the same but that the Pal had the wider, tapered ribs. Can anyone explain the difference between a Chestnut Deer and Pal ? Thanks.
Can anyone explain the difference between a Chestnut Deer and Pal ?

It changes over the years, so you really need a run of catalogs to wade through it all. The 16' Pleasure canoes were originally the Ajax and Moonlight (1st and 2nd grades). Pal comes into use sometime 1954-1956, and is narrow-ribbed (its introduction corresponds with the Playmate and Chum, and Peterborough's Mermaid/Minetta/Champlain series). The Pal is 34" beam through 1960, then it increases to 36" beam (Ken Solway describes in his book the modification to the mold).

The Deer is first seen in 1961, but it is fiberglass. The Deer is reintroduced in 1966; the only apparent difference between it and the Pal is the level of finish, and the Deer has slat seats while the Pal has cane seats.

In 1967, the Pal is given wide ribs. Both Pal and Deer now have cane seats. It remains essentially the same until 1978 when the Deer also now has PVC covering in place of canvas.

Clear as mud?
What about Chestnut Prospectors?

In other words, if you don't know the year of the 16' canoe in question, it could be a Deer or a Pal. Right?
I also have 2 Chestnut Prospectors ? in my shop. They have all the right dimensions, serial numbers and slat seats except they have the narrow ribs rather than the wider, tapered ribs. One has 2 thwarts while the other only has 1 center thwart. What gives?
What gives?

Welcome to the wacky world of Chestnut canoes. You are not the first person to be puzzled, but rather are welcome to join the club with the rest of us.

Some theories, but no answers: despite being factory products, these were still put together by people. Some could be special orders. Maybe they ran short of thwarts, or wide ribs. Maybe it was Monday and they were all hung over. Could simply be done differently on a whim.

Also keep in mind that there were three factories producing essentially the same models, and that many were cross-branded. We do see subtle but distinct differences in canoes built in the different factories, as well as subtle changes over time.

FWIW, I've seen a couple narrow-ribbed Prospectors - both were Peterborough-branded.
You said it !

Also had 2 identical 18' V stern prospector canoes. One was a Chestnut, the other a Peterborough. Then there's the 20' V stern Chestnut Prospector with cane seats. Just finished a 16' Peterborough cruiser [purchased through Eatons catalogue] with slat seats and only one thwart. These are just a few that come to mind. It seems the w/c Chestnut/Peterborough canoes that were sold through Eatons in Canada were of low quality, lacking many of the first and second grade features. These low grade canoes usually had a serial number but no manufacturer decals. The Quebec Hurons [usually sold through Simpson Sears catologues in Canada] at least were pretty well all the same quality and features so they are easy to identify.
I'll let other people fight it out as to whether or not this canoe is a Pal, or a Deer. They were built on the same moulds and, as Dan has pointed out, were simply designations of, essentially, the same canoe based upon differing only in certain construction details. In the popular mind, the 16' Chestnut Pleasure model has become known as the Pal.

That's what this canoe is.

But the REAL point of my posting photos of this canoe is to present the really remarkable condition that it is in that is completely a result of basic, common sense, storage. This is not a canoe that has been babied and treated like a precious object, too delicate for actual use. It HAS been used regularily. Its just received the good storage that I advocate over and over, and that is so much cheaper and easier than early repair work.

I see so many delapidated canoes come through that this one is a real treat.
She is a beauty! Bigger pictures would help us appreciate it more though :)

Thanks for sharing.

OK, I'll post 2 larger file size photos for the detail. I hope that it helps.

That grey stuff on the outside of the hull is just dust, ignore it. The two canoes in the back are also Pals, the top is the wide rib, fat version, the lower is a narrow rib, similar to the green canoe. I'm pretty sure that its the wider version as well.


  • IMG_3689-1.JPG
    138.4 KB · Views: 423
  • IMG_3686-1.JPG
    154.3 KB · Views: 419
Thanks for posting those large pictures....they confirm that mine is the same model (whichever it is called!) I will paint over the "bang Plate" and show just the top as thats the way it came off. is identical also but wish the interior had been better taken care of.......needed a good stripping to get it to look AL MOST that good. Mine has a 5 digit serial number preceded by the length.. 16......It has a shoe keel that is NOT a piece of art but will use it.....Thanks again for the Pics
well stored chum (?)

at least i think its a chum, waiting for confirmation
stored in a garage for years, same shape
what a nice find. pouring rain here today, photograph the inside later.:D :D :D


  • P1060704.JPG
    452.7 KB · Views: 343
  • P1060705.JPG
    444.7 KB · Views: 323
  • P1060706.JPG
    438.8 KB · Views: 312