BN Morris Serial #70


New Member
My dad bought this BN Morris canoe from a friend in NJ back in the mid 1970's. It was in great shape for it age then. We used the canoe as kids would, river trips and many paddles on Lamoka, Seneca and Keuka lakes. About 17 years ago, I took the canoe for a trip around Glacier National Park, that was the last time I had the Morris in the water. A year or so later, I decided it was time to refurbish.

As it happens, life and household moves got in the way and my Morris project lost priority. I felt rushed to put the Morris back together as quickly as possible, so I used some less than optimal materials and techniques.

Now that I'm older and wiser, I'm rebooting my Morris Rebuild to do it right. I renewed my membership to WCHA after 15 years

I need to replace about 17 linear ft of planking; 1 rib; repair the bow seat; the starboard rail cracked where the stern thwart bolt is located; and most likely repair the bow stem.

I have all the original rail strips and accessories. Anyone in Georgia interested in providing help and advice?

Hope to be around more...Ian


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Hello, Ian. One thing I say over and over again: every Morris contributes something to what we know about Morris canoes. Yours offers us a lot: it is now the lowest-numbered B.N. Morris in our Morris database.

Your canoe is in amazing condition for being about 110 years old. The decal substantiates the fact that it is a B.N. Morris and not a Veazie Canoe Co, which had a different serial number series--- the Veazies tend to have lower serial numbers.

Your canoe has two pairs of cant ribs... substantiating the theory that Morris canoes prior to the 3XXX serial numbers (about 1905) had two pairs of cant ribs. Do you know if changes were made to the stem of your canoe, or if the shaping in the places where the cants meet the stem is original?

The only paper documentation we have on a Morris is number 1876, which was shipped June 1, 1903... indicating that over 1800 canoes were turned out by the factory between your canoe and mid-1903. If we knew how many canoes Morris built each year, we'd have a better idea when yours was built... but my guess is "around 1900".

Your canoe is a "Special Indian", not a Model A or Model B, etc. The canoe that was shipped in 1903 was a Special Indian and it doesn't seem that the A-D model-description came into use until about 1905.

Measuring the beam on your canoe may tell us whether you have "the logo canoe". The WCHA logo is the cut from the Morris 1901 catalog (I will attach below-- image courtesy "The Complete Old Town Canoe Company Catalog Collection, 1901- 1993", available on CD from and on the web).

You don't say how long your canoe is, but it appears to be 17 or 18 feet. The beam of the Special Indian is listed as 30" on the 17 footer and 31" on the 18 footer; beam on the Special Indian Extra Beam is 36" on the 17 and 37" on the 18. These numbers can be a bit "off" after over 100 years, but there's a 6-inch difference, so you may be able to tell if your canoe is "our logo"!

There are many here who will offer advice.... and maybe there's someone close to where you're located. Those who have restored their Morris canoes will provide specifics you might need.

Amazing! Thanks sooooo much for this information! And you even have the often-missing center thwart and an original Morris backrest!



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Ian -- what a wonderful canoe.

I'm wondering if you could post pictures of the wing nuts and other nuts holding the thwarts and seats in place, since it appears that what is on your canoe is most likely to be the original hardware.

I have an 18' Morris (serial no. 6466) in serious disrepair -- none of its rails, seats, or thwarts were in place when I got it, and while some of the the collection of loose hardware that came with the canoe is original, I am very unsure about the nuts, especially the wing nuts that would have been used to hold the (missing) removable center thwart in place. But I'd also like to know what was used on the other thwarts and seats.
Could new decals be made using the old one here as a pattern? Or...are they already available. Business opportunity for ya, Kath!
new decals

Actually, new decals of both versions of the Morris decal that appeared on the short decks are in the works, courtesy of Ray Schell. The early decal reads as the one above does... the later one substitutes the word "motor" for "rowing" and appears on canoes after 1910 or so... the actual date of this change isn't nailed down and requires further research.
In looking at the data, it seems Morris may have used the older "paddling" decal until they ran out, rather than switching to the newer "motor" decal when the motor canoe was available. A canoe in the 9XXX (c. 1911) series has the older decal. Using the Morris catalog thought to be c. 1910 as a guide, the motor canoe had been available for "two seasons" ... or perhaps since 1908.

The older decal seems to have been phasing-out as the older heart-shaped deck was being replaced by the concave curve. So, it may be safe to say that a Morris with the concave deck probably had the newer decal... and if your Morris with a heart deck is circa 1910-1915, the choice of decal is up to you... unless we can nail the transition-point a bit better.

I've been amazed that Morris didn't use a metal name plate, as many of the other builders did. Decals are so impermanent... I'm glad enough exist for us to know what they looked like.

Steve Ambross is in Georgia near Atlanta. I think.You may want to contact him for help. Take lots of photos. We have a 7XXX Morris we will be restoring in the future.
Thanks Kathy, Greg and all!

As for the measurements of my Morris, it is 17'. The gunwale beam is around 30"-31". It appears to be a "Logo" Morris. All the cant ribs are original and no modification to the stems or shape have been made. It is so wonderful to see the collection of Morris knowledge in one place. Years ago, guessed this canoe was build sometime before 1905, that was based only on the closed gunwales.

I started rebuilding this canoe in New Mexico using flat cut cedar that a friend gave me...the price was right, but that is the first thing I want to replace.

The "original' fasteners on the seats and thwarts, this canoe didn't have any wing nuts. Everything was fastened with square (3/8" on a side) nuts. Interestingly, there should be 12 nuts, and I can only find six. I can trace and photograph seats/thwarts etc to help you get as close to OME as possible

As far as purchasing planking, I know Northwoods sells 4"...any other sources?

thanks everyone.
No Wing Nuts...

The fact that the center thwart wasn't secured with wing nuts is an interesting aspect of Morris construction we didn't know before... so it seems that at some point, they figured it might be convenient to make that thwart removable, for extra gear/people... but such wasn't always the case.

Ian -- thanks, but I have the original seats and two of the three original thwarts -- only the removable middle thwart is missing, and I can extrapolate the shape of that from the other two. I also have a few bits of the original inwales with pockets for the ribs, and the decks. Among the hardware I got with the canoe are a number of the original L shaped bolts, flag pole sockets, and two old wing nuts, and have just been wondering if those nuts were original to the canoe.


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Uh, I've lurking in the background on this discussion. I don't have any particular experience with Morris canoes, but that tag #70 looks suspiciously like a livery tag to me, rather than a serial number. Is the serial number confirmed somewhere else on the canoe?
AH! HERETIC! As a former Morris owner, I'd tend to agree. Looks more like a seat tag from a theatre than what was on my boat, but a couple of photos of gunwale tags should suffice. Nail holes look too big too, but we'll see. Perhaps Mr Mueller could post one, say in the 4xxx series....;)
Morris canoes have their serial number only on one metal tag -- earlier canoes have an oval tag that was fastened to the inwale; later canoes have a rectangular tag that was fastened to the splayed end of the bow stem. See the discussion at for a discussion of when the change in location occurred.

Ian's tag is similar to mine (6466) and to pictures that I have seen of other earlier Morris canoes.

The link above has a picture of the tag for Morris 77 -- very similar to the tag -- 70 -- in question.


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I'll post a few serial number plates for comparison. There are two styles--- an oval, and a rectangular with clipped corners. The oval was on the inwale, the rectangle on the bow stem.

Will hunt down a few more.



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Morris #77 was previously the lowest-numbered Morris in the database.


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Theater seat??

I guess it does. It did come off the gunwale of my canoe. Very early on when I was trying to establish the year my Morris was made, I was told the same thing. At the time there wasn't as much information on Morris canoes as there is now. My wife majored in music and theater at the Collage of Charleston...I don't remember a canoe in row seven...:)
Yup, the mind is slipping - never looked at the tag on mine more than a couple of times, guess they are all shaped like that after all... Very nice boat!