B.N. Morris...a little help, please

ken mueller

Canton, Ohio
I recently brought home an 18ft 6 in canoe. With help from the information provided by Dragonfly, I am resonably certain this is a BN Morris. Splayed stem, full keel fastened at every rib, mahogany gunwales,railcaps,and decks. I could use some help on a few things, the first being the possible age. There are no tags or numbers on the hull. I also wonder about the (lack of) thwarts in this boat. Maybe the originals have been removed. The decks are 24"long at the stern and 36" long at the bow. Any thoughts on the original colors? All I have to go by is a design left on the original canvas. The owner thought the hull may have been burgandy with a gold trim. I will attempt to provide some pictures. Any help will be greatly appreciated!!!


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Ken: You do know that the Morris factory burned in 1920. At least you know it's very old. Nice find.

There certainly were thwarts. Look for screw hole through the inwales. Mine has an "extra" set of holes that can be used to mount the bow seat forward of the stern seat using one set of thwart mounting holes and the extra set. With the long bow deck, you can't just turn around in the bow seat. It just wouldn't look good. ;) The thwarts also have a distinctive section shape that means they have to be mounted right-side-up.

The decoration pattern is a real treasure. Make sure you get a good copy of it before you remove the canvas.

There is a reprint of at least one of the early catalogs available. It has the color and decoration options available at that time. There is also some information in the book The Wooden and Canvas Canoe
I agree that it looks like a Morris and it almost certainly had thwarts originally. Some of his color designs are shown at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/morris/1919-cat.gif on the cover of his 1919 catalog. Morris stem profiles tended to get more elongated over time so the somewhat traditional curve of this one may signify an earlier construction date.

The three foot bow deck with a two foot stern deck appears to have been particularly popular in the Belle Isle area near Detroit as shown in postcards like the one attached below. There was a local dealer known as C. J. Molitor who bought a lot of canoes like this from Morris, Old Town, and other manufacturers.

This looks like a great project! Have fun,



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