Chum or Doe - Help to confirm

Murat V

LOVES Wooden Canoes
Hi all. Relatively new member here hoping some of the experienced WCHAers out there can help me with some basic id. I'm negotiating a trade for this cedar canvas. Owner claims it is a Chestnut but cannot verify. I understand that chestnut serial numbers are pretty much useless anyway to ascertain age.

Canoe's stats are: 15ft long with a 33" width. Ash gunnels are starting to get some typical blackening. Original cane seats were torn and replaced with simple wooden boards.

What caught my attention with this model are the narrow 1 1/2 wide ribs with what looks to be narrow cedar planking. When I built a 14footer with Pam Wedd 2 summers ago, we used 3-1/2" to 4" wide planking for the bulk of the hull.

A cursory bit of research found that the length, width, and rib sizes are consistent with a Chestnut Chum or Doe. Of course I'm probably wrong but I'm wondering how common the narrow planking is in Chestnut boats and whether this feature is useful for ascertaining builders or age?

Also, a restoration attempt by a previous owner involved a spliced gunnels near the bow deck. Having never done a repair like this, I'm wondering if the angle of the scarf joint in the attached pic of the deck is too steep? Many scarf joints repairs I've seen involve a much more shallow angle and longer joint face. Does anyone think the scarf on this repair would compromise the canoe in some way? Sorry if this is a dumb question.

Many thanks to anyone who can offer some feedback.


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15' and single thwart almost certainly makes it a chum. Decks have been changed too, Steve Lapey can provide you some photos of the great job he did on the Chum he has.
Wouldn't a Doe also have a single thwart???? I understand all 15 fters built by Chestnut only had one thwart (including Peterborough Minetta). Wouldn't the difference between Doe and Chum be the narrowness of the ribs????

From Wood Canoe Identification,

Twozer (1st Grade) 15 x 33 x 11½ 60 lbs Twozer dropped circa 1960.
Gooseberry (2nd Grade) 15 x 33 x 12 (1956) 65 (1957) Gooseberry dropped 1959.

Introduced circa 1954-56
Chum 15 x 32 x 12 65 1½" Ribs
15 x 34 x 12½ (1967) 68 (1967) 2 3/8" ribs (1967)

Introduced 1966
Doe 15 x 34 x 12 65 1½" ribs
15 x 34 x 12½ (1967) 68 (1967) PVC coated canvas 1977-78.
The scarf joint does look rather steep. Maybe even appears to be a weak spot in my eyes. Optimal scarf joints in my opinion should be between 8"-12" in length, but even a 5 inch scarf here would have resulted in a stronger joint. If it ever breaks, you'll know what you need to do,... short of new inwales.
Obviously it won't hinder your paddling. Go enjoy your canoe!
The scarf is short. Should rather be at least 8:1, but the location near the deck means the structure won't likely be significantly weakened.
What Dave and Rob said - If you get it bring it over to Killbear and we'll throw a rigging deck on it, they sail wonderfully with a 30sq ft. Or faster yet with a 44sq ft aca rig. There are some shots of my old chum with a sail on it in an old Killbear thread somewhere on here.
Thanks everyone. Seems like an ideal first time restoration project to me with just a few items to fix up.
Here is a picture of Andre's Chum rigged to sail at Keuka in 2009 and another after it became my Chum in September, 2009.

Everyone needs a good Chum!


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Murat, did you ever get that Chum? Looking over those photos again I am not convinced its a Chestnut. I missed the one i sold to Steve so i picked up this one. Bleached and oiled today, paddling soon. The falls at Mary Lake look like we should shoot 'em, the Muskoka River is swollen nicely.:D


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Andre, I did end up getting it, although like you mentioned, a few more people chimed in on my website to mention it isn't a Chestnut. The narrow planking style is like a Richardson apparently, but I think I acquired a no name copy cat from an amateur builder / restorer. Probably better this way since I plan to abuse this sucker to practice some upriver poling this season. I'll likely put in new decks (one of the ash decks had split and was held together with a strategically placed screw), maybe carve a custom yoke...basic stuff like that. Your Chum is looking sweet, hope I can paddle it one day to say I've been in an actual chestnut. Paddling season is certainly early this year but "unfortunately" I'm off to Cuba to celebrate the wife's 40th next week instead of some early spring paddling. Anytime you're running the Muskoka river, I'm in. I've done part of the section from Port Sydney to High Falls as a leisurely day trip before.

You most likely have a canoe built by Rilco Industries in Lakefield, which built canoes and boats under the two trade names Richardson Aquacraft and Lakefield Boats. The canoe is either the Cree or Kiowa model. The forms that were used to build those canoes were forms from the defunct Peterborough and Canadian Canoe Co.

Dick Persson
Buckhorn Canoe Company
Thanks for the added confirmation Dick. One thing that I noticed about this canoe was that while it used narrow red cedar planking, they are not full length & tapered like other Richardson / Rilco canoes I've read about. There is a visible gore pattern along the bilge...not sure if this was part of the previous restoration which seems very amateurish. The seats are now covered with a plywood plank but the existing lacing hole pattern visible from underneath has a offset line of holes for the unique weaving pattern (like what was posted in this thread. Lots of space between the planks too...seems like it was a rush build or something. There aren't any exposed bolt heads for seats & thwarts either...they've been covered with bits of dowel cut flush to the inwales. Either way, I was happy to get this as part of trade while getting rid of unwanted stuff in the garage.


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I am told that Rilco, just before its closing in late 1967, produced a number of low quality canoes using up what ever material was on hand. Normally all Rilco canoes had tapered, narrow ship-lapped planking, not the narrow lath planking yours seem to have. However, it is of-course possible that your canoe was built by someone else.
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