An Old Town Charles River model in AA grade with double mahogany gunwales from 1907

Benson Gray

Canoe History Enthusiast
Staff member
The pictures below show an Old Town Charles River model in AA grade with double mahogany gunwales from 1907 and fancy turned drops on the seats. It appears to have been modified after it left the factory for a canopy as shown by the four metal mounting points in the gunwales.



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Hello Benson -

Well, after nearly a year of working on it, I am ready to install the seats and thwarts.

Would you be so kind to provide the position of both seats and thwarts from your canoe?

Thank you for your assistance.


The two thwarts are centered on the canoe and about 51.5 inches apart (i.e. each thwart is the same distance from each end). The bow side bolts of the stern seat are about 24 inches from the stern thwart. The stern side bolts of the bow seat are about 5.75 inches from the bow thwart. All of these measurements are from the the centers of the bolt tops in a straight line. Let me know if this doesn't make sense or if you need anything else. Good luck,

Exactly how I would measure them.

How would you measure what? I presume that you can find the fore and aft center line of your canoe and then position two thwarts which are each centered at 25.75 inches from that center line. All of the other measurements should follow that. Am I missing something?

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No - I completely understand. I meant that I measure the position of them the exact same way so it makes perfect sense.
Sorry for the confusion
This may have been a topic discussed in the past, but i had an early Canadian Canoe Company cedar canvas canoe with thwart placement like the one above. While a AA grade Charles River may have been intended for a life of leisure and not portaging, i found it very curious on the Canadian hull as it was certainly not any type of courting or high end craft. Good for the cushions, lady and victrola but no good for carrying on ones shoulders. Was this observed throughout the line up early on, or was it particular to this boat, much like a Molitor? I suppose there is always the potential that a factory worker at CCCo did his own thing, owing to wartime production and regular staff off to fight.
Old Town canoes frequently had wing nuts on the middle thwart to make it easier to remove them so they often go missing. The earliest Old Town catalogs starting in 1901 always displayed canoes with middle thwarts. The 1903 catalog says "Thumb nuts will be used for securing the middle thwart if desired." This changed in 1911 to "Middle thwarts in 15 foot and 16 foot canoes to order only but without charge." Similar language was used as shown at through the 1920s. I believe that this canoe never had a middle thwart but will have to check when I get home tonight. Let me know if this doesn't answer your question.

Based on an old video of Charles River canoe racing that is posted on this site, I think the thwart placement facilitated solo canoe racing too. Kneeling on one knee in the center of the canoe and reaching over the side.

I looked at the remnants of the inwales that I kept and there is no sign of a hole that would accommodate a center thwart, so at least this one did not come with one it appears.
I can confirm that the canoe shown in the first message here doesn't appear to have ever had a center thwart either.