ANy hope for this Iowa built Bark canoe?


The million dollar question is how dried out the bark has become? If the bark is still good then all it looks like you need to do is repair the lashings, remove the bird nest and re-pitch the seams. How dried out is the bark and will it allow you to pull new lashings tight without tearing out?
The ribs look quite perfect (except one that may have some edge rot?).
The stress lines are from compression during the fitting process when the boat was originally built. There is nothing wrong with that...
I have a story about a fairly well known restorer who pulled the original decks (perfect decks) from a Morris when he saw stress lines from the deck bending...he later realized that they were harmless and from when the decks were first made...but only after he had replaced those decks with new ones.

Dave Wermuth

Who hid my paddle?
I'm going to go out on a limb and say yes. Ferdy Goode restored the Chicagoland canoe base birch bark canoe that was very old and in very bad shape. Here's a link to Ferd on the net. He is also found here from time to time. I'll also venture to say to get the canoe wet before trying to move it. Let it soak, spray it with water. If I don't paddle mine for awhile, I spritz it from time to time.


Novice Canoe Restorer
Not sure how to judge the bark. But everything is dry. The canoe is in Kansas and I am in Texas. I can get someone to spray it after the Kansas winter freezes are over. My plan is to pick it up and bring it back to Texas.

I will need help on lashing and pitching. Any recommendations (books, web pages) on that would be greatly appreciated.

And a couple of the ribs are in fact broken - not sure of the count but that seems to me (novice wood and canvas guy I am) to be the easy part. Finding white cedar (I think they are white cedar) will require some guidance.

Thanks all for your replies. A new adventure but it sure seems like the old girl is worth it if it can be done.

Kathryn Klos

squirrel whisperer
As Dave said, Ferdy Goode can provide some answers for you. One of the things I learned from Ferdy is that bark canoes require regular maintenance. In this video of the Great Rivers Chapter's get-together at Jag Lake in 2015, Ferdy is re-pitching the gores. Your canoe is far from being "hopeless!"



Novice Canoe Restorer
Kathy and all - Thanks for the encouragement!! I'll study the Ferdy material.

Warm regards,


New Member
It does not matter. The canoe is an American craftsman's work of art. Get it. Hang it in your bedroom and smile every night.

Happy 2017.