Carleton canoe serial # search

W Isgett

Curious about Wooden Canoes
I am new to the WCHA forums, and own two modern canoes, but recently bought an old Carleton wood/canvas canoe at an auction. The serial number is struck in the keel on both ends and is fairly legible, even through layers of varnish. The serial number is 15163 18 or possibly 15168 18. If I were to strip off the old finish, I could probably tell for sure. The canoe is definitely 18feet long and is a Carleton, not Old Towne. It retains the original Carleton brass label and also has the typical grab handle at the bow that I have seen in photos of other Carletons. The Old Town factory gave me some info on the serial number(s) that I provided them, and I told them I had a Carleton, but I believe the info they gave me could be for an an Old Towne. The information they sent me shows it to be a 1911 model. I don't believe that my canoe is quite that old.

Could someone please help me with identifying this canoe? It is in very good shape, and really only seems to need cosmetic restoration. The wood and canvas are excellent in my opinion. Thank you very much.
There is a gap in the archived records for Carleton canoes between 15133 and 15193. Unfortunately 15163 and 15168 fall within that range. I will check further but it doesn't look good at this point. - Al
I'm sorry for the long delay in answering this request but it has been a busy summer. The Carleton canoe with serial number 15163 is an 18 foot long, CS (Common Sense or the middle) grade, Carleton model with red Western cedar planking, open spruce gunwales, birch decks, birch trim, and a keel. It was built between June and July, 1920. The original exterior paint color was dark red. It shipped on June 24th, 1921 to Fairlee, Vermont. The Carleton canoe with serial number 15168 is also an 18 foot long, regular (middle) grade, Carleton model that was shipped as a Guide's model. It had red Western cedar planking, open spruce gunwales, birch decks, birch trim, and a keel. It was built between June and July, 1920. The original exterior paint color was dark blue. It shipped on June 30th, 1921 to New York City. Scans of these build records can be found by following the links under the thumbnail images attached below.

These scans and several hundred thousand others were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA) and others. A description of the project to preserve these records is available at if you want more details. I hope that you will join the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See to learn more about the WCHA and to join.

It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if these descriptions don't match your canoe. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions. Good luck with your restoration,



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Benson, thank you so very much. I am thrilled that you were able to find my serial numbers. I still haven't stripped the old finish at each end where the serial numbers are to find out my exact number, busy summer too. I am quite sure, however, that mine is one of these two canoes. The last number is the only one I can't make out for sure, whether it is a "3" or an "8". When I find out for sure, I'll let you know.

Do you know of any physical differences in these two canoes that I might see that would determine which one I have? Is there a difference in the "Guide" canoe?

Also, can you tell me how I might duplicate the original colors on these two canoes and what is the best type of paint to use?

I have already purchased a few items from the WCHA. Thank you for all that you do.

These two build records appear to describe identical canoes except for the original color. You may want to try some paint archeology or light sanding on the canvas to see if there are any signs of an original dark red or dark blue paint. The "as Guide" reference usually means that the dealer ordered a Guide's model but the factory didn't have one in stock at the time so they substituted this Carleton model instead. I would encourage you to paint it with a color that you like since no one will probably ever know what it really looked like originally. You may find some paint under the rails or some other place that was never exposed to the sun to help if you are lucky. Paints have been a popular topic here with suggestions of everything from Kirby's to tractor paint. Any good marine enamel will probably work fine. Thank you for your support of the WCHA and please keep us posted as your restoration progresses,