Canoe ID?


New Member

First-time poster here, hoping (someday) to get fully into the world of wooden canoes.

I have inherited a banged-up old boat with no identifying marks other than the serial number CL769 on the stems. The canvas has what looks like an original red finish and I'm guessing the canoe is about 15'. Any ideas what I've got here?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.


From Dan's Dragonfly Site,

Penn Yan
CL = Hunter 15 x 35 x 12½ Spruce rails 1933-1960

Pics would also help confirm/reject this ID.

HI Nick

I have a Hunter. Nearly finished. Paddled it the other day. It is very stable. It is going to be my hunting and fly fishing beater. These canoes I think are from Alex Comb, I can't recall. Check out his website.


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I am starting a restoration project on an old wooden canoe and I need to identify it. I was told it was possibly a Detroit Boat Company or maybe a Robertson. I do not know a whole lot about canoes. I was wondering if anybody had any good pictures of canoes from these two builders that would help me identify the one I have. The daughter of the original owner gave me the canoe and she said it came from Belle Isle Michigan but was not sure.



You might want to start this as a new thread rather than tacking this discussion onto an existing one. That way, you and others who find this of interest can keep track more easily.

There are many photos available of Detroit and Robertson canoes, but it would be MUCH easier for you to get an accurate identification if you post photos of your canoe on these forums. Be sure to show the ribs (whether they taper from bottom to top), the stems (wooden pieces that follow the inside circumference at each end), decks, thwarts, and any other details you think might be relevant. The parts mentioned are very important in distinguishing different builders. Also, look on the upper face of the stems where they end in the bottom of the canoe- you might find a serial number stamped into the wood. The number and its style can be a big help.

Posting photos is easy. When you post a message scroll down to the "manage attachments" button, and follow the directions there.

Belle Isle hosted canoes of many types in the early 20th Century. We have one that was built by B.N. Morris. Rather than others posting pictures of all the possibilities, could you post pictures of the canoe?

For identification, it's good to provide a picture the canoe's profile, a picture of the decks, a picture showing the inside with seat/thwart (if present), and a picture of the stem on the floor of the canoe, up under the deck (either bow or stern). Also, if it's a long-deck canoe, measure the decks and provide that data, as well as the overall length of the canoe.

To post pictures, scroll down to the box below this one that you're typing into and click on "manage attachments" to get a browse box that will permit you to find pictures in your computer.

If you don't have a digital camera, simply do your best to carefully describe the canoe. You may have what's called "a courting canoe", and they can appear very similar, so the best way to figure it out is to post the data and get opinions.

Attached is a picture of Belle Isle Today (well... last fall actually) and one of the canoe canals and cool buildings taken a century ago. The buildings are still there but some need restoration. We'll eventually participate in a cool event to draw attention to this historical place-- when our Belle Isle Morris is completed, we plan to take it to Belle Isle and paddle it around (providing it isn't Winter), along with a fellow Denis met from the historical society in Detroit. We'll alert WCHA members to this event, in case anyone else wants to show up... the more, the better for drumming up publicity that might help draw create more interest in the spot and generate funds for restoring the boat house (I believe that was the building needing the most help).

Gil-- I'm still working on C.J. Molitor: The Canoe Man of Belle Isle for (perhaps) a Fall issue of Wooden Canoe. He'll also be a chapter in "the book".



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