another mystery canoe

David Satter

Wooden Canoe Maniac
Ok just got this canoe from the catskills. Heart shaped decks, closed gunwale, Morris looking. no keel, ribs are spaced farther apart at ends by stems. ribs are not mortised into inwales. I cant find any markings or numbers yet anywhere. 1'' square stem. planked removable bow seat. Oh also all wood work is painted black and yellow. i hope the photos come out ok. Some repairs but overall a really well built canoe. Dave


  • peter rafle canoe 008.JPG
    peter rafle canoe 008.JPG
    64.4 KB · Views: 505
  • peter rafle canoe 020.JPG
    peter rafle canoe 020.JPG
    53.3 KB · Views: 520
  • peter rafle canoe 019.JPG
    peter rafle canoe 019.JPG
    51.7 KB · Views: 508
  • peter rafle canoe 016.JPG
    peter rafle canoe 016.JPG
    51.9 KB · Views: 526
  • peter rafle canoe 012.JPG
    peter rafle canoe 012.JPG
    48.3 KB · Views: 537
  • peter rafle canoe 011.JPG
    peter rafle canoe 011.JPG
    51.2 KB · Views: 545
Last edited:
I have no idea who made it but it looks cool. I love closed gunwale canoes. Nice score! Hard to tell from the photo -do the thwarts arch up a little?

Jim C.
Jim, they dont arch up but they are very thin on the ends. They have that hand hewn look like they were made with an old draw knife. also one carry handle in bow that matches. It has been recanvased and they also did a nice job. i'm going to do some small repairs to it so I'll look for anything interesting.
I'd think the slats on the seat cover up the space left by broken or rotted cane, but i think i recall a thread about a seat hanger like that? I had an early ufo that came out of NH with a long heart deck like that, and that style of seat hanger but no seat. Is that the bow seat with the slats?
Yes, bow seat has the slats.the seat looks original , everything looks like it's made to fit can't see any signs of alterations.
Any photos of Dan Neal canoes out there or info on them would help. i'd like to compare them to this canoe. I'd really like to identify it. thanks , Dave
Hi David,
You said that the rib tips were not mortised into the inwales - can you tell how they are attached? Is the stern seat original or can you feel up under the inwale and locate other bolt holes? Is the bottom edge of the inwale beveled. Could you post a photo of a thwart?
Thanks, Dan
Ribs are feathered thin at top and tacked on to inwale. inwale is very square. I checked everywhere can't find any odd or extra bolt holes. Owner told me this has been stored inside with little use for MANY years.


  • 001.JPG
    48.1 KB · Views: 451
  • 003.JPG
    54.3 KB · Views: 457
  • 004.JPG
    46.9 KB · Views: 454
  • 006.JPG
    41.3 KB · Views: 454
Hi David,
I was trying to find clues that might make yours a Stephenson. Mostly he used tear drop decks but we've worked on one that has heart shaped decks, decorative thwarts different from the "Stephenson Thwart". The thwarts were thinned and accepted into a notched inwale like yours. His stern seats, whether hung or fitted into the inwale were trapezoidal and the side pieces were half lapped and secured with screws. We've seen feathered ribs andribs that fitted into a rabbet cut the length of the inwale. He did space his bow and stern ribs wide apart and he did have a carry handle that was set back a way from the deck. The Stephensons that we've worked on had the lower inside edge of the inwales beveled - the bevel being about 1/4 wide.
So I guess it probably isn't a Stephenson, but it looks like a nice canoe!
I have seen a half a dozen Neal's including my own and I don't see much of a resemblance. He used very short decks for one thing. Search on the Forum for Neal for photos.

What about an early Carleton? The bow profile looks old towny to me.
Last edited:
I doubt that this is a Neal boat.

Here are pictures of two Dan Neal canoes I took at the 2010 WCHA Assembly:

SM 100_6713.JPG sm 100_6721.JPG

sm 100_6755.JPG sm 100_6757.JPG sm 100_6758.JPG sm 100_6761.JPG

I have a Neal rowing canoe that has straight-edged decks, slated seat, and simple smooth-sided curved thwarts typical of many birch bark canoes -- not at all like the thwarts of the canoe in question.

And I have seen other Neal canoes, and do not recollect seeing thwarts like these.

However, Neal was an experimenter, trying sometimes odd things. Fitz has some pictures of some other Neal boats -- maybe he'll chime in.

edit --

I see that Fitz has already chimed in, with a similar opinion.
It looks like a "Ranco" Canoe to me. He was a Penobscot Indian that lived and built in Kennebunk Me. Around the tuen of 1900 the tribe had a little settlement in Kennebunk mostly making crafts that sold to summer folk. The Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk had a nice display of Rancos work in 2010. He built birch barkd canoes and it appears that his wood and canvas canoes were based on those bark canoes.
I've restored three of his canoes and they all had the seat bracket for the removable front seat, heart shaped deck, closed gunwale, the scalloped shaped seats and thwarts, the taper on the end of the stem and a bit of lashing around the tip of the decks. Copy of 085.JPGCopy of 095.JPGCopy of PB180032.JPGCopy of PB180033.JPG
Hi, DAVE....I will have a very similar boat at the Assembly, made by JR Williams of Kennebunkport. I hope you bring your new find to the affair, should you make the trek. Rollin is amazing, NO ? As I recall he has a Williams as well ans it is on his Retired-to-do-list. Very nice find. Dave
Thanks Guys, I'm going to do a few minor repairs for the customer so he can take it to the assembly. any opinions on anything i should do to it to keep it somewhat historically acurate. It's painted inside, but that's going to stay for now. Maybe he should take it to assembly and get feedback there ? Dave
DAVE...." anything I should do....." YES, first loose the " somewhat.....accurate ", because 100 years from now with the second restoration, it will be really tough to find the truth. YES, the Assembly experience will give the owner all that is needed to press forward properly. He/she can PM me if wanted.
I am the owner of the suspected Joseph Ranco canoe that Dave Satter has been discussing with you all. We will bring the canoe to Paul Smith's for the Assembly. This boat has been in the St. Regis/Osgood Pond area for several decades. Looking forward to sharing the canoe in July.