C.P. Nutting 16' Canoe

Warning: First timer posting


I recently started a restoration on a Nutting canoe. Not knowing much about this builder I started looking into him which quickly brought me to the WCHA discussion forum. After reading through this and picking up some helpful info I thought I'd share some details of the construction of my Nutting. Some of you may know this canoe because I did see a pic of the deck on one of the threads. The bow deck has the #32 on it.
1) Builders tag- C.P. NUTTING (no Co.) MAKER (with line design)WALTHAM MASS
2) No seriel number on stems
3) Rabbit at top of stems.
4) Feathered & tappered ribs
5) Thrawts mounted in dado cut on top of inwale, riveted through inwale with gunwale cap on top.. There are two thrawts plus (what I think) is a short thrawt at the bow. There are no thrawts in the canoe just the dados. there is a Robertson thrawt attached.
6) Inwales are riveted( two/end) at both ends where the inwale tips come together at the tip of the deck
7) Inwales angle in (not level).
8) Seat frames are notched & beveled to fit the angled inwale. Seats are mounted through the inwale with steel roundhead bolts.
9) Decks mounted with steel screws & nails
10) Planking is 2 1/2 " wide with only two nails/plank except for the sheer plank which is 5".
11) Planking joints are scarf joints
12)3/8' gap between inwale & sheer plank. Top of this plank is beveled.
13) Steel tacks used for the canvas ( seems like Nutting used steel whenever it wasn't visible).
14) Chamfered inwales. DSC_0773.JPG
So, I put this up in hopes of finding out some more info on Nutting like where did he learn to build canoes, how long did he build them and what might be the age of this canoe (it seems old). I would also like to know the dimensions of the thrawts and more info on the short thrawt at the bow. Ok, going to try to attach some pics, hopefully goes well. Thanks.DSC_0951.JPGDSC_0971.JPGDSC_0999.JPGDSC_1023.JPG
The "32" may or may not be a boat number assigned by a livery/rental outfit.

The short thwarts near the decks are generally referred to as "carry thwarts." The design intent was most likely to use these to carry the boat, rather than the decks.

Others may have more input...
My research shows that Nutting was a boat livery between 1886 and 1893. His primary business was the dance hall. Canoes were built by Nutting 1895- 1914. Odds are that the canoes were built by someone(s) coming from the Partelow or Robertson shops, as they were the only canoe builders to predate 1895 on the Charles.

James Burgin was listed as working for Nutting in 1901 - interesting because he would go on to be a principal in the Waltham Boat & Canoe Co. and Woerd Avenue Boat House.

A bow carry thwart was also typical of Carleton canoes.
Attached are two postcards showing the Nutting boathouse and dancehall. Postcards of canoeing on the Charles and the other boathouses along the river show up regularly on Ebay.
You have a very nice canoe.
Jim NuttingDanceHall.jpg Nutting.jpg
Hi Mark,
Great rare one you picked up. I'm glad this canoe found a good home. As you may have saw that I posted a pic or two of it when it was at Tom's in NH. I restored its twin a few years ago that is absolutely beautiful (pics posted). The only thing I noted different than mine was my front seat hangs on brass cleats that make the front seat removable. Not much info out there on these.. Only thing I can tell you it that is a very early Nutting as it does not have a serial number just like mine. Dan's livery dating above is the correct vintage of your canoe. Its certainly one of the earlier Charles River canoes. I remember seeing that the floor was in tough shape needing lots of planking. I have no problem giving you all the thwart dimensions, might take a couple months as I'm not sure I can get to it with the frost and snow. Don't forget that you will need some Chestnut to accurately create correct thwarts. The birdseye decks are a nice rare feature as well. Shoot me of a PM and Ill see what I can do.


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Wow! Thanks for all the responses. So I take it the consensus is that this canoe was built before 1895 by someone other than Nutting for his livery business? Zack, your canoe looks great. I did not know about the chestnut for the thrawts. I assumed they would be maple like the decks ( bow looks to be tiger maple, stern looks like birdseye). Also, I don't understand what "shoot me of a PM " means.
The only consensus which I've observed in this thread is that there isn't much information available to fix a definitive date on a Nutting canoe. A "PM" usually means a private message. You can click on anyone's username here and select the "Start a Conversation" to initiate a private discussion. This is the common way to exchange phone numbers, email addresses, or other details that you might not want to publish to the world. Good luck,

I found Charles P. Nutting’s obituary on Newspapers.com. It was carried in the Boston Globe, January 30, 1941, the same day he died. He was 85. He was the “builder and former proprietor of the well-known dance hall, Nutting’s on the Charles, who died this morning following a month’s sickness…interment will be at Mt. Feake Cemetery. Born in Groton, Mr Nutting resided in this city [Waltham] most of his life. A widower, he had conducted a boating business here since 1875. He ran the dance hall, which he erected in 1914, until he retired three years ago.”

He was born in 1856 and “conducted a boating business since 1875,” that means he was in business at age 19. Could this be correct? Seems a little young to me. Maybe he was in the business but just working for someone else?

On Nov. 27, 1888, at age 32, he married Lillian Adelle Wellington, 28. His listed occupation was “Boat letting.” I viewed a scan of the original marriage record in “Massachusetts Marriage Records 1840-1915” on Ancestry.com. Charles and Lillian never had children. Lillian died Sept. 16, 1924. They are both buried In Mt. Feake Cemetery, Waltham. Charles's father was Charles L. Nutting, a farmer in Groton, MA.

In the 1880 census of Waltham Charles is listed in the household of George W. Lewis. He is single with a listed occupation of "Baker." In the 1900 census of Waltham Nutting’s occupation is listed as “Boat Livery Man.” In 1910 he is listed as “Boat Builder.” In 1920 as “Proprietor Boathouse.” In the 1925 Waltham City Directory he is listed as “Treas. Nutting-Pillman Amusement Co.” In the 1930 census he is listed as “Treasurer Amusement Co.”

My take away from this minor research is that he was building boats from the mid to late 1880s through 1920 at the latest. That’s a 35 year window to date a Nutting canoe.

Attached is an article from the Boston Globe about the huge fire that destroyed the building in 1961.


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So……. I posted my Gerrish a while back. Came from the same collection the nutting did. But here is the interesting thing, both canoes appear to have similar style livery numbers on the decks as well as the same “torched” alligatored black varnish. Like they were stored in the same environment. I surmise that they were both in Nuttings livery. Speculation of course but thought provoking. Thoughts?

Can't wait to see it Chris as I know you will treat it right. Just started on another Gerrish restoration last week myself. Great time of the year to get some work done by the woodstove in the shop!
Zach, Marks 5th photo highlights the profile of the inside rails. They are chamfered right up to the location of the thwarts. Presumably the seat locations also got that treatment?
I have not seen this very often on canoes. Since you dabble in these older and more rare boats, what is your experience? Is it something that you have seen on your Gerrish boats? Is it common on Nuttings? Are there other builders who followed this practice? It seems like it might have been an aesthetic from a particular period.

Chris, it is possible to be in the right place at the right time. If I recall, your centerboard Old Town had a number on it when I bought it. So did several of the other canoes that were being sold. In that case, it was a sell off of the Prospect Point boats...you will find the same style of number on the deck of a canoe on display at the Adirondack Museum, one that has Navarac painted on the hull as it also was on your boat.
Point being, it is extremely possible that these Nutting and the Gerrish were stable mates at one point and that a lucky collector came along and brought them both home. As much as we cherish these old canoes, there was a time not all that long ago when they were considered to be obsolete, a burden to maintain and candidates for the burn pile or a good layer of fiberglass.
Yes, I saw 2 other Navarac boats at the museum with the same size and font numbers on the decks. Do you know the amazing part? Other than missing original thwarts and seats, the hull is in fantastic condition at least for a Gerrish. Not a single broken rib and although Gerrish wasn’t noted for his eye for using AA grade materials, the planking is pretty sound as well. And we all know how hard livery canoes got used/abused. I sure would like to go back in time!!! In more ways than one!!
Back to Nutting. Jim and I have done much of the same research, though my conclusions may differ a little. IMO, Nutting starting building canoes ca. 1895 - prior to that, he appears to have been a livery and dealer (as suggested by an ad from the 1886 Waltham City Directory). It also appears that canoe building may have ceased at Nuttings when it became Nutting Pillman Amusement Co in 1915.

Tags are know both without the "& Co." and with. Those with probably date to 1901-1915.
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Dan is likely right. My research is certainly not comprehensive. The Nutting Jean & I bought has the "& Co." on the tag. The serial number is 3274 (for what ever that's worth), 36" decks, 17 ft. length. Attached are a couple pictures.
Hey Mark, is this the Nutting you picked from me up in NH last year? I'm really glad someone is going to spend the time to bring it back to life. I would love to see what you do with it, hope you'll post pictures as you proceed, if you can. Thanks, Reed
YES, Jim is a lucky man to have the boat. I hope you adopt the " Gold is Great " theme for it. You can do it. I happen to have some Manetti roll gold just right for the job, Jim.
Have fun !