Canots Mattawin

Louis Michaud

LOVES Wooden Canoes
Here is some information on a small canoe company: Canots Mattawin. It was located in Saint-Michel des Saints province of Quebec. I got the information from the retired owner: Robert Racine.

The company was started in the 1920s by Willie Racine. They made canoes, flat bottom skiffs ("verchere" in French), paddles, oars and portage yokes. Robert started working with his father around 1948. They had several canoe forms ranging from a 16' double ender to a 18' freighter. Robert took over the company in 1960 and added a few forms: a 13' trapper and a 15' double ender.

The seats were babiche in the traditional weave until 1960. After they used rope weaved in a square pattern. In the 1950s they started replacing the canvas/filler with fiberglass (polyester resin) leaving it clear on the hull. Early on the rails and keel were mahogany, it was more easily available in long lenght. From the early 1970s to 1980 the inner and outer rails could be spruce, BC fir or mahogany, from 1980 white ash was used.

Ribs are 1 7/8" or 2" wide, edges beveled but no taper, spaced 1 3/4" to 1 7/8". Planking can vary but usually was 3 1/4". Sometimes a serial number can be found on the inside of the forward stem. The label seen in the first picture was used from 1960 to 1968 only. Decks are usually 11" long but this can vary. Often, they had "U" bolt on the decks. The are usually the same thickness as the inner rail.

Robert Racine closed the company in 1985 and retired.

These canoes could be mistaken for Hurons at first glance. Here are some differences I noticed, but I have only seen two 16' Mattawin and own a 13'...
The stem profil does not have a lot of recurve like the Hurons. It looks a lot like the Traveler. Hull looks plumb sided, almost no tumblehome. No rail caps. Finer entry and exit lines with a pronounced hollow in the quarters. The thwart is well shaped. The planking has a tight fit. In general Mattawin canoes have a higher level of finish than the Hurons.

The owner of the canoe in the first picture is not convinced it is a 15' Mattawin... It sure looks like one to me, down to the "U" bolts and the stem profil. The deck and stem pictures are from a 13 footer.

If you recognise your canoe, please feel free to add information.

Louis Michaud
Rimouski, Quebec


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Hi Mr Michaud,
im thinking of purchasing a Mattawin 14.5 foot canoe. it has rope seats square weave. The owner told me its a " Mohawk" model....?
When you talked to Mr Racine, did he tell you what he based his molds on?
I wonder where those molds are today?
They are really nice canoes. They seem faster then the Huron canoes maybe because they have finer entries and quarters. They are very good paddlers even with less tumblhome than the Hurons or Chestnuts. They are similar in hull form to the Tremblay canoes. I don't remember Mr Racine mentionning model names. He said his father developped the hull shapes himself. Robert developped the hulls for the 2 shorter models by using the existing sections of the longer canoes. He said the hull section was the best for heavy waters, a claim also made by the Tremblay canoes. I've seen only one Chestnut Cruiser canoe and should have taken pictures and notes... It paddled great, sleek and fast. It would be great to have 3 16 footers: Chestnut Cruiser, Tremblay and Mattawin side by side to compare hull shapes. On my Mattawin I wanted a traditional canvas and filler so I peeled off the fiberglass/polyester resin with a heat gun. It went well but stil is a b... to do.
The forms are probably still in the family. Some time after the post, Robert's son emailed me he had just finished a new canoe on the original form.

For the canoeing I do I would go anytime for a Tremblay, Mattawin or Cruiser canoe. The others I leave for those who turn the paddle and pry against the rail at the end of the J stroke (Flame suit on....)