Buck and Packard Canoe


Wooden Canoes are in the Blood
In Memoriam
This canoe showed up on eBay last week. The seller included very poor photos. It was described as a circa 1922 canoe with a "Buck and Packard" tag. I watched the auction and it didn't seem to be getting much interest, so I took a chance and I bid the minimum and ended up winning.

I was more than a little apprehensive about what I might find, but I drove up to Dover-Foxcroft, Maine today to retrieve it. Greg Nolan was up north, so we went together to pick it up. Plus, he provided a great lunch :cool:.

Anyway, the canoe is basically intact and is very similar to D.B. Neal canoes from Dover-Foxcroft. Wide ribs, planking, one seat only in the stern typical of guide canoes, nice carved decks, no keel, very similar bow/stern profiles. This one has minimal rocker. Packard's shop is still standing in DF, and it was for sale a few years ago, but we have no idea who "Buck" was.

Now for the bad news.....The canoe was pretty seriously remuddled. You should see the half-@ssed half ribs! I am hoping these will come out without screwing up the planking. Portions of the original inwales remain, but some crude scarfs added new pieces. Then when the scarfs failed, the inwales were reinforced. The stems are in great shape and appear original, but now I am wondering. There is no rot at the tips of the decks and the ends of the stems. It has canvas on it now rather than glass, which is a great relief. The decks are finely carved and I believe original and I do believe the thwarts and seat are original - you can see where someone stripped the old varnish and left residue near the gunwales etc. The canoe has been dropped a few times breaking ribs. I wonder if it wasn't dropped taking it out of the barn before I got there, but who knows.

It does have great fine entry and wonderful old Maine canoe lines. I think it is salvageable and I have seen worse.


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Congrats, very kool! You guys get the best old Maine-built stuff, so nice to look at. This one to keep your sanity, or a weak moment?;)
Weak moment maybe. I was afraid you needed kindling!! It had to be saved!

It has potential. I wasn't burned too badly, if at all. These old Maine canoes have such cool lines.

The former owner has a reported Kennebec 16 footer that she wants to sell. It may show up on eBay too. I have some photos and have seen it (in the dark), but if anyone is interested I can send you some iphone photos etc.

You should see the half-@ssed half ribs! I am hoping these will come out without screwing up the planking.

Removing the half ribs shouldn't be a problem. The previous owner of my 1936 Otca had added half ribs that I had to remove. You can see the extra nail holes in the planking if you look closely but they aren't obvious or distracting.

My 1923-1924 copy of the Maine Register lists "D. B. Neal, H. A. Packard" as the two manufacturers of "Canoes and Snowshoes" in Dover-Foxcroft. The one from 1914 is available online and only lists ""D. B. Neal" in Dover before the two towns merged. You may be able to find other copies of these books to narrow down the time when he was actively building. See http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?7166 for more information. The list of Maine Canoe Builders at http://wcha.org/legacypages/maine-list.htm shows him as being active from 1923 -1926.

It looks like you got a nice one. Please keep us posted on the restoration.

B and P

Interesting the use of quartersawn white oak for the decks, same as the seat and twarts? Fitz, possible to take some pics of the twarts? Probably no serial number in the canoe. Was the canoe open or closed gunnel? Copper tacks? Interesting canoe. Have fun with it!
Decks etc.

Hello Benson:

Thanks for the info and the encouragement over the half ribs. They look like they will come out okay, and the planking is wide and looks to be in good shape, so I remain hopeful. I like these old guide canoes with one stern seat etc. Very shapely and really fine entry at the stems too. This one has a much flatter bottom than Neal's whitewater model.


The decks are finely carved, have a neat crown that starts low and increases as it extends to the tips, and are contoured underneath to fit your hand nicely. It looks to me that part of the remuddling may have involved cutting the sheer down slightly in the stern when they replaced sections of the inwales - maybe to avoid steambending the replacement pieces. The deck tips and stem tips show no sign of rot. The stems look heavy to me, and there is a chance they are replacements, but I tend to think they are original, because I see no evidence of damage that would have required stem replacement. The stems have a rather unique shape. There are no numbers on the stems that I have found yet. I will shoot some detailed photos and post them.

I will scrutinize the thwarts and seat, but I believe they could be oak as well. The thwarts are finely carved and dainty. So, much so that I am a bit afraid to carry it on my shoulders, with the extra weight due to the added inwale repairs etc. I don't want to break the center thwart. I will shoot some closeups and post when I can. It is closed gunwale. I haven't looked at the tacks yet.

I could probably paddle it now. I may take it for a spin to see how she performs before doing too much with it. I have a number of projects to finish before I can get to this one.