Canoe Identification Help


Recreational Sander
Hello all,

The attached are photos of a recent addition to the fold. Does anyone have any thoughts on a maker/general age of this canoe? The canoe came from a good friend and unfortunately did not come with any previous history. There is no evidence of a name plate (or nail holes) or decal and the stems don’t have any markings or at least I haven’t been able to find any evidence of a serial number. There is a thwart missing and the canoe does have a keel. The clamp appears not to be original… :)

Research I’ve done so far hints at possibly Kennebec. Planking pattern, decks and short rail caps look very similar to other photos I’ve seen. For example:

Very interested in the thoughts of the community on this one.



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You seem to have it nailed. Also consider the untapered ribs as an indicator.
It's in really nice shape.
There should be numbers on the stem. I've had had really good luck getting numbers to appear by doing a pencil rub on the back of a cash register receipt. You might try the same.
I thought about Skowhegan, did they have serial numbers? I thought I read that they have them as well. Any other way to tell the difference between a Skowhegan and Kennebec if I can’t find a serial number? If no serial number, any other thoughts?

I’m going to try the pencil rub tactic, thanks for the tip. I was not able to pick up any numbers visually.
I'd go with Skowhegan because of the curve of the ends. Here's one we did about 25 years ago. It still had the remains of a Skowhegan decal.

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Well, thanks for your help everyone. Based on your feedback I continued to narrow my search to Kennebec and Skowhegan.

I had an idea today. Noting that decals often leave a hint of themselves on the wood such as a different hue due to effects of sunlight exposure, and that the Kennebec and Skowhegan decals have different shapes, I thought of trying to photo the decks and then play with the tinting and lighting gradient on the computer to look for potential decal “shadows”. I should also note that so far I have been unable to find a serial number on the stems or anywhere else for that matter. I cleaned the stems and with a flashlight at different angles, haven’t been able to discern anything. Will keep trying.

Upon taking the photos of the decks, I noticed a very small remnant of a decal! I then compared the remnant to both the Kennebeck and Skowhegan and wouldn’t you know it…. It’s a Skowhegan. (see picture below ) Once the decal was identified, you can pick out remnants of other bits and pieces including the red boarder left on the deck.

I tried to triangulate a model type from the Skowhegan catalogs and the best I can tell is that it may be a “Camp Special” due to its spruce gunwales. There doesn’t seem to be too much difference between the “Skowhegan” and “Camp Special” other than the hardwood/mahogany vs spruce trim and I’m a little confused about Style I vs Style II as noted in the catalogs and how they relate to the two models. Maybe someone can straighten me out here.

Of note: the catalogs say the canoes are “copper fastened” throughout, this canoe seems to have brass. In addition, the ribs differ in dimensions: Catalog: 2 ¼” wide by 5/16” thick and spaced 1 ¼” apart; Canoe: 2” wide, 5/16” thick and 1 ¾” apart. Keel dimensions between the catalog and canoe are identical.

Bottom line, my current assessment is that the canoe is a Skowhegan, Style I, possible “Camp Special” model based on the decal remnant and materials.

Decal Remnant.jpg
Nice bit of detective work.

Type 1 for Skowhegan is open spruce gunwales with hardwood decks, thwarts, and seat frames. Type 2 will have mahogany rails, decks, thwarts, and seat frames.

So, as far as I can tell from studying some catalogs, the Camp Chief model is essentially the same, construction-wise as the regular model. If there is really a difference between the two models, it may boil down to either a) (perhaps subtle) differences in the lines or b) grade of materials used.