BN Morris Canoe


Canoeist & Collector
I recently got a BN Morris Canoe - finally. I is 16 feet long, 1910 to 1912 and maybe a Model C, Type 1.
Kathryn Klos (I think) corresponded with the ebay seller at the time.
It needs new canvas and general refinishing. I want to learn as much as possible about it before I start.
The closed gunwales are in incredibly good condition. The floor rack is intact and elegant compared to (dare I say it) Old Towns.
Any information that can be provided would be much appreciated.

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Hey, Jim--

Send me the serial number and I'll tell you what I think we know, at this point in time... the information grows and sometimes changes.

If you don't have the back issues of Wooden Canoe with the Morris info... which are December 2007, April 2008 and August 2008... let me know and I can send them to you via snail mail. This is a service of the official unofficial B.N. Morris fan club of the WCHA, whose bottom-line-theory is that every Morris contributes to our knowledge of this company.

I tend to gadfly most eBay sellers of old canoes, especially if they are Morris canoes, so need a memory-refresh on yours. Looks very nice! Short decks are type one. Mahogany was the preferred flavor at the Morris factory... rails were often spruce though. Bert Morris liked closed gunwales, with the ribs tucked into pockets that are no fun if you have to replace them.

Denis made up a stain concoction that worked for the interior of one of ours. Most Morris canoes have a dark stained interior. Denis gives out his recipe, when he hasn't forgotten where he put it.

You might want to play around with the "search" function above, exploring old posts re Morris canoes.

Thank you yet again.
I bought if from Will Biddle, who lives outside of Annapolis, and whose family had a place up on Saranac Lake. That is where the canoe lived for many years.
I will get on a ladder and polish the brass plate to see what it says. More later.
The boat number is 10031.
I'm sure I have all those Wooden Canoe magazines, just have to find them. They're all in one place somewhere.
Thanks for the number! I do recall talking with Will but he hadn't given me the exact serial number.

Your canoe was likely built around 1912--- it's accurate to say it is "circa 1912", as "circa" means "approximately".

The following year or so, Morris began using the curved-style short deck, although it didn't totally replace the heart.

I'll post the information request for our database project... for all the world to see (yet again). Reminding All that if you see a Morris, be nosy-- in the name of history, and for the WCHA!

**Information Request**

B.N. Morris Canoe Database Project

While any Morris-- with or without a serial number-- can be plugged into the database, the more information we get, the greater the opportunity for discoveries!

We would like to know the following, if possible:

Length of canoe.

Model-- or measurements so we can figure that out.

Serial number-- including location of serial number (on stem or inwale or elsewhere) and type of serial number plate (oval, or rectangle with rounded corners, or anything else).

Deck style-- see the section of Forums at titled "canoe photo index" for examples of known short-deck types.

Wood species. Bert Morris liked mahogany trim-- for decks and seat frames. But other wood species are seen on both B.N. Morris canoes (birdseye maple for example) and on the "second grade" Veazie model.

Color of the canoe's interior--- if the canoe has been refinished, we may not know if the original stain was "light" or "dark". Interior stain-color is something we've only recently begun looking at, as a result of the database. It seems most Morris canoes were originally stained a dark mahogany to match the mahogany trim... but some are lighter. At first, it seemed the canoes with lighter interiors had high serial numbers, as though this was a change that happened late in Morris production; however, recent submissions included a couple of canoes dating to the first decade of the 20th Century which have light interiors appearing original to the boat.

Cant rib count. Cant ribs are those "half ribs" waaaaay up under the decks at each end, which are canted into the stem. The splayed stem of the Morris "bites into" the first full rib... and above that will either be two pairs of cants or three pairs--- it seems that earlier Morris canoes have two pairs. The change to three pairs appears to have happened with canoes in the three thousand series.


Profile of canoe. The Morris canoe profile changed over time... and in the later years of production "special ends" were offered as an option--- this was a "torpedo" look. We hope to learn when changes in the profile happened, which would help date those canoes where the serial number plate is missing.

The stem. Morris canoes have a very unusual stem.

Serial number plate. If no plate, picture of bow stem clearly showing presence or absence of four holes that would indicate presence or absence of rectangular s/n plate... and picture of inwale on the left side, at the bow-end, just above the first full rib-- showing presence or absence of two holes which would have held the oval s/n plate.

Decks. With long-decked canoes, indicate length of each deck.

Interior shot, showing seats and thwarts. On some Morris canoes, the center thwart was attached with wing-nuts so it could be removed easily and it often went missing for that reason.... so, having a middle thwart "is a gift".

Pictures (or descriptions) of anything unusual or which seem "extra"... a decal, flag sockets, fancy outwales, half-ribs or a floor rack, oar locks, spotlights... any accessories, such as back rests or paddles.

Additionally, please include any known history-- where it was paddled, and by whom.

Thanks for any info-- from anyone reading this. We appreciate greatly getting any scraps of information, even if it isn't your canoe. Folks have emailed us about canoes seen in museums or in a neighbor's garage... and it all helps, even if it's just a verbal description-- a deck style with a serial number is a big help.

Kathy Klos and Denis Kallery
WCHA Morris Database Project;
That's a long list, but I'll start to work on it, in seriatim. I'll print your post and go through it. It may take a week or three - I'll be traveling for a couple of weeks.
No hurry on any of the info--- and what we need most we already have, from the serial number and the pictures... I don't want our "expectations" to seem daunting! I'd like folks to think all they have to do is sidle up to anybody's Morris canoe and jot down the serial number... and any extra info is gravy!
A friend of mine (cousin actually) owns a Morris Canoe with a sailing rig. I've spent a lot of time in it and I'm sure no one knows about it. We've been on the Upper Ausable Lake in the Adirondacks with white caps and it handles really well.
It's one of those hidden secrets that you look for - probably hundreds of them around.
I'll put that on my list too.