Another Oldie Saved...


Curious about Wooden Canoes
Over two years ago I began the restoration of my Old Town, 17', HW, CS grade, serial 3611, which was built in 1906. This canoe was given to my grandfather and grandmother upon the event of their wedding in 1906. It was passed on to my father, then me. What fun it was putting it back together! Taking two years to complete, I won't challenge any of the professional builders or restorers to their business! I have posted some photos below.

In bringing her back to life, my philosophy was to preserve as much of the original wood as possible, yet make her "sea-worthy." I replaced gunwales, side rails and cap rails, (all Spruce) 1 cant rib (no more!), and one tip of a stem. I replaced about 75 feet of planking and re-canvased upside down between trees. Most of the rib tips had been chewed by a desperate squirrel while it was stored for 25 years in a Pennsylvania barn. These all had to be repaired. In storage, the boat had fallen apart, but I was able to locate all of the original seats, decks, thwarts, (all maple), keel and paddles mixed into the dirt floor. I only had to re-cane one seat. So actually it's mostly original.

Thanks to all who gave advice to me. Other than the website and a very useful book which I read many times (thanks Rollen and Jerry) I was basically an island of canoe restoration. To give would-be restorers an idea of costs and time I shamelessly say that the restoration cost me about $845 in parts and materials and about 305 hours in time. This time included all of the dead ends someone might fall into when they had never restored before. The final weight is about 81lbs. A little light for this boat, but then again we're dealing with century-old cedar. My next one would go much more quickly, if there were to be a next one. I was recently offered another canoe at a neighbors house. When asking my little girls whether they wanted me to accept it, they said in unison "no," but of course they don't mean it. The hours mentioned above are all my own although I did have a helpful SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) who frequently lugged it in and out of my basement.

We launched the "Plolydora" in October and all lived to tell about it. Perhaps it's good for another 100 years.


1. Start
2. Squirrel damage
3. Finished canoe
4. Finished canoe
5. Paddle testing in back yard


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beautiful canoe - it showes you cared- kind of like eating 'pringles' there is no such thing as just one. :p :cool: welcome to our world.lee.'.^
Be proud, be very proud! I also had the pleasure of an emotional attachment to my first restoration. You probably had some extra hands guiding you!
Thanks guys.

Yes, the thoughts that go through your mind are interesting when you're working on one of these old one-family canoes - how it was handled and repaired by one's ancestors. Also, all of the places it had traveled in 100 years. It's interesting how much you think of these things as the hours go by!
Great looking job Ed. Looks like the squirrels did a heck of a job on the rib ends. Know what you mean about what a job it is. Getting ready to put canvas on the old Mullins I've restored. Told myself several times over that I'd rather build the new ones but then again it's a nice feeling seeing an old canoe come back to life.

Hey Ed - Congratulations to you on the work you have done to that canoe, not just any canoe but one your family has owned for 3 generations and to be treasured all the more because of it. Its nice to bring a piece of history back from the brink but something with personal significance like that is well a very cherished experience. I wish you and all who enjoy it all the best.

David Hobden

Ps. i have to admit the job you did on it looks better than the first one i fixed up too. lol