Canoe Identification


Curious about Wooden Canoes
Purchased an old 16 foot cedar canvas canoe in Fredericton NB recently. Boat was symmetrical. It has good lines - no obvious warping -but has had all cross members: yoke, seats, and thwarts removed. It has apparently been sitting as such fo 5+ years. The owner said it was a Chestnut but when inspecting the decal I discovered that the canoe was made by the "Competition Canoe Company, Fredericton, New Brunswick. The boat currently has a beam of 40 1/2 ", but when we put the seats (they were loose in the boat) in and squeezed the hull to accomodate, the beam measured closer to 38." The depth, before squeezing, was 12 1/2."I would be intested in detemining the model of this boat in the hopes of getting some specs. to help in restoration. The owner placed the boat from the 1950's - but I am not sure if this is reliable. Also, has anybody ever restored a canoe that has slightly lost the width (as described above?) Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Competition Canoes

Chestnut did indeed build canoes that they marketed using the name "Competition Canoes" sometime prior to at least 1951. These canoes usually had narrow ribs and from what I've been able to determine were built on the Prospector forms.
Competition Canoes came about so Chestnut could use wood that they could'nt utilize in their regular line of canoes so they were probably built along the lines of a "Camp Grade," or No.3 Canoe as far as materials were concerned. They used the different name for marketing so they, Chestnut, would'nt get a reputation for shoddy canoes.
That would come some time later............

I just restored a 16' "Competition" prospector which was as Jack described . One further note is that this one has ferrous [ iron ] clinching tacks . How about yours ? If I can help with any further information or pictures let me know . Something I couldn't find was any record of a deck decal to buy or copy . I would love to see one if you can post a picture .
competition canoe

Thanks for the replies. I will post decal picture as soon as I can. Also will check on tacks. Would love to see pictures.

DS , I won't be available for a couple of weeks but will try to get some pic.s to you after that if I can figure out how to do it on this site .
In 1920 Chestnut introduced the Grade 3 canoe. Over time the narrow rib became very popular and soon was used in grade 1 and 2 Pleasure canoes as well.

This is what Chestnut had to say in the 1920 year catalogue:

…………..We are so particular about selecting the materials for our canoes that there is more or less stock left over for making canoes of average quality. This we build into No. 3 Canoes, which are splendid value at the prices asked. These crafts have light ribs, bars instead of cane seats, and light canvas which is not filled with our guaranteed special “Chestnut” filler. They are oiled inside, painted outside and have double open gunwales. They are brass or copper fastened and while they do not bear our name and are not “Chestnut” canoes, they will please anyone looking for a serviceable canoe at a low price.
As they are built with stock that we do not put in our standard goods, the number we have to sell is necessarily limited. We can build them to order on any model or on any length but at present only stock them in a 16ft length……………………………………

Cheers :)
Dick Persson
Headwater Wooden Boat Shop
Competition Canoe ID

Thanks. This makes me more suspicious of the seats that were included with the purchase. The Seats were drilled for caning ( no caning was left ) and were roughly finished - the edges are sharp. Also, there is a discrepancy with the type of fastener as I am pretty sure that the tacks are ferrous. Still, I am very excited as it is obviously of Chestnut pedigree. Would it be a safe assumption that it came from a Prospector mold? Does Anyone have any advice on how to proceed when restoring the boat to its original beam width?

Thanks again for all your replies

Douglas S
Another Chestnut Competition Version

This is from the 1969 Chestnut Price List but I'm pretty sure these versions were marketed as Chestnut's proper.........

I was told at one time by a fellow who had been a builder at Chestnut for almost 7 years that the later Competition Canoes were covered with PVC instead of canvas but I would'nt say that was the case without a little more information. I do know that later on, in the 70's, that Chestnut only offered PVC on some of their models but they kind of went back & forth between the two coverings for a few years..........



  • 1969 Chestnut price list.jpg
    1969 Chestnut price list.jpg
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Hello All
I have one of these.I purchased this canoe off the original owner Deer model 16 feet Looks to have been built on a Pal form,narrow cop ribs ,PVC covering ,cane seats and the long Chestnut decal that is usually placed mid centre thwart was placed at the bow.
When 18 I attended a Sportsman show 1973. There was a rep from Chestnut there at the show with a few canoes expounding the virtues of the PVC covering-he told me that it was being introduced on that years models.
This canoe is at a friends who frequents these boards maybe he will pipe in as to the quality of the planking.

Okay Dan B. , here goes . The total construction of your 16' Chestnut Deer with shoe keel [ serial # 16487 ] is far superior to the 1970 Chestnut Pal or the Competition I have done . Your planking is tight and knot free , 1.5" ribs at 3" centers , width 35" , depth 13.5" , rise 21" but the shape is that of a Chestnut prospector with a rounded bottom . The Pal had a flatter bottom . Your outwale edges are very nicely rounded . My 1970 Chestnut serial # was 16657 which is close to yours but what a difference in quality ?????? Hope this helps .
The canoe, as we found it, had been covered with fibreglass. Did Chestnut put serial #s on the Competitions. If so, where are they found?

Tahnks for the replies

Competition canoe

Maybe they made two different competition canoes.
I have seen Doug's canoe. It has the 1.1/2" ribs and the clean planks that you described in Dan's boat. It appears that this boat was covered with canvas at one time. The panks are 1/4" X 3 3/4 wide and look to be made of westen cedar.

Q. Does anyone know the best way to bring the beam width back to its original shape so that the seats can fit back into its original holes.
I did this once to a 14 Huron canoe.When the canoe was just a bare hull after stripped bleached and soaken wet I used tie down straps in a coulpe locations around the hull.I tightened them carefully until I had the original shape back.Too much and the bottom rounds out and once the thwarts get past level you will not be able to reattach the thwarts flush with the inwale were they meet. I then let it dry.worked OK