b.n. morris courting canoe?


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I found a interesting canoe the other day. It's about 16 feet long with exposed wood stems, full length brass bang strip. Full birds eye maple decks covering the bow, stern and sponsons. brass pendant hole. Its definitely a B N Morris. Did he make courting canoes? Does anyone have anything like it? sorry don't have pictures he wants more than I am willing to pay.

Morris certainly did make courting canoes, and the canoe you found sounds interesting. We are keeping a database of all known Morris canoes, and I would like to get in touch with the owner of this canoe for more details.

Thanks so much for alerting us to the presence of this canoe.

An article on Morris courting canoes used on Belle Isle will be in an up-coming issue of Wooden Canoe.

Has anybody ever seen a morris with factory decked sponsons? this canoe seems untouched. It seems to have the original canvas and everything. I'm wondering what a fair price for something like this is.
"A fair price" is discussed here: http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?t=57

I will say more about "price" in a bit.

I'm curious about the canoe. While anyone could order a canoe from the Morris factory and have it built in any particular way, the B.N. Morris canoe is trimmed in mahogany (comparable to AA grade with Old Town). Morris prided himself in only manufacturing one grade of canoe after approximately 1905. Prior to 1905, the canoes were called Special Indian and came in two grades: first grade, which is mahogany, and second grade, which was any other hardwood, but usually maple or birch. After 1905, Morris created a second company called Veazie Canoe Company. These canoes were factory direct and were maple or ash trimmed, unless the customer asked for mahogany. The customer could also request sponsons and long decks. Knowing the serial number of this canoe would help place it in its proper historical position. If the serial number tag is missing, there would be four pin holes on the bow stem or two pin holes in the left inwale. If you watch the following YouTube videos, you will see exactly where to look. Without evidence of these holes, the canoe would probably pre-date 1900 and be a second grade Special Indian.

There are two videos which you might find helpful.



As to "value": if you buy the canoe, it's up to you what you want to do with it. There have been discussions here before regarding whether to restore a rare one-of-a-kind canoe, which holds features of construction that shed light on how the old canoe masters built their canoes. Case in point is a very old Gerrish that was discussed in an issue of Wooden Canoe. If your Morris is very old and contains aspects of construction that others would benefit from exploring, I'd say leave it as-is. Generally, canoes do not lose value if they are properly restored, like a fine old Model T.

My suggestions are to get pictures and post here. Find a serial number or traces of one. There are lots of minds here, and it might be nice to give you several thoughts.

Dudes in Morris courting canoes...


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Is that a sponson on the 1st and 4th canoe? A bit of a bulge starting under the deck and looks like it is running the length?
BTW - nice way to open up the pics.
You certainly made a wonderful score with this canoe. What a beauty! Congratulations! Thanks for sending us the information. First sponson in our data base.
Denis :D
Here are a couple of pictures of a sponsoned Morris canoe that i restored a few years ago. It was a closed gunwale boat, mahogany trim and coaming. I would guess the age as pre 1911 but its just a guess; serial number 1148.


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Great Pictures, Thanks

Our single piece of documentation is the receipt for Morris 1876, which was shipped on June 1, 1903. If our assumption that these canoes were numbered sequentially is correct, Morris 1148 may date from 1902 or early '03-- depending on how many canoes were produced.

1876 was a 17 foot Special Indian "Number 94 first grade canoe", which is equivalent to Model D in the A-D naming-system that appears to have begun around 1905, when Morris went to one-grade-only.

Thanks for the very interesting contributions this thread has given our database!

Now that there are examples of Morris sponson canoes to look at, we can look again at the pictures of the dudes in canoes (above) and see that what's there is probably just a rub rail and optical illusion, not sponsons--- at least, not to my eye.

Rollin-- Those Morris sponsons are amazing... and you did an amazing job bringing that ol' girl back to something beautiful. I love that unbroken line, the tops of the decks continuing with only a color-change over the sponson-tops... creating a spectacular look, as the eye goes from the sponson-top to the side of the canoe.

With Longdale's canoe (on his personal page, if you click on his name) the sponsons are topped with mahogany and the surface is contiguous from bow to stern. Both canoes have coaming circling the entire interior.

The Morris sponson canoe is a truly beautiful design. Very cool having examples to drool over!
I've been puzzled for about that postcard ever since it went up. What suggests that these are Morris canoes? Several have stem profiles that could easily by Robertson, Waltham, Detroit or Old Town. One in the rear has a profile more like some guideboats. There's another image of an old postcard floating around here somewhere that's also described as a Morris... I didn't look for that one just now, but I had the same reservation there.



I think I'll take my wife out when my restoration is done, not any 'dudes'. I would like one of those acetylene headlamps though, and maybe a bigger horn for my victrola.;)
Big thanks to Steve Lapey of the Norumbega chapter for dragging this boat to Keuka for me, now to go peel fiberglass...


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Regarding the canoes on the Belle Isle postcards, I may be seeing what I want to see, simply because I am aware CJ Molitor's livery had Morris canoes and, as a Morris dealer, he supplied the other liveries with Morris canoes. But, as you said Michael, canoes of other builders were on Belle Isle as well. Folks could stable their privately-owned canoes on the Island. The majority of the canoes on Belle Isle between 1906 and 1920 were Morris canoes, and that's what I'm seeing in the pictures.

I'll attach a Belle Isle picture from the Morris Catalogs contained in the "Historic Wood Canoe and Boat Company Catalog Collection" CDs available from http://www.wcha.org/catalog/ and http://www.dragonflycanoe.com/cdrom.htm on the web. I know for sure these are Morris canoes!



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Oh its not that bad, only one busted rib and the deckbeams are there, but the stems are a memory - still a long way off of the $ for a new one and the winters are long here!
I agree with Dan. This photo doesn't say Morris to me (even though the catalog may). In addition to this one, I've seen images in other makers' catalogs that clearly don't show that company's own canoes. I'll have to dig around to remember which catalogs and which photos, but they are there.

The postcard with the group of canoes posted in this thread appears to show a wide variety of stem profiles, some of which could belong to a variety of makers. One reminds me of a Dan Kidney profile. The single postcard in another thread shows a canoe attributed to Morris that could be from any one of a variety of makers including Dunphy and Rhinelander, if memory serves.

And here's another twist... you can't simply trust what things are said to be or sometimes even what they seem to be. What's wrong with the two postcards below? There is very little that I trust inherently, and this sometimes includes my own eyes. Sometimes we see what we want to see.


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Michael, the two postcards you posted are amusing to me, because I grew up in Minneapolis, one block from Lake Harriet-- which is one of the three central Minneapolis lakes. The postcard-makers tacked the names of Minneapolis lakes on places that don't look like Minneapolis to me (I've seen others too), and my guess would be the one with the Minneapolis label is "the wrong one". Maybe they both are...

Rhinelanders are rare outside Wisconsin, or so I've been told. Dunno if any made it to Belle Isle, but one thing to consider is that most of the canoes paddled in Belle Isle's canals were livery canoes. While it is possible that individuals traveled to Boston and Rhinelander, bringing home canoes that they paid to store on the island, I doubt liveries were filled with canoes by these builders. It would have been simpler to order them from the Morris dealer, Charles Molitor... at least, that's the story.

Charles Molitor bought used canoes, and perhaps some of those made it into his livery... but I have assumed the used canoes he purchased were re-sold, because my impression of his livery is that he wanted canoes with 36 inch bow decks and 24 inch stern decks, and a lot of mahogany.

The profile of the Morris canoe changed over the years. Once he came out with "special ends" (torpedo stems), it seems Molitor ordered that type for his livery. Our 16XXX Belle Isle Morris has special ends, and appears, in profile, like canoes that graced the Charles River. Earlier Morris canoes in Molitor's livery would have had a different profile.

Belle Isle is a park with man-made canals... a small place when compared to the Charles River. It held a finite number of canoes, even when all jammed-up with folks listening to a band concert. I'm not trying to argue that there couldn't have been canoes built by a number of different builders, just that it wasn't like the Charles in that respect.