Could use some confirmation

Douglas Ingram

Red River Canoe & Paddle
I'm pretty sure of that this canoe is an Old Town, probably an OTCA. As they don't hang out in these parts, this is the first one to come to the shop, and is the first one I've seen here ever. So, I'm putting up these photo hoping that you more versed in all things Old Town could confirm.

Apparently, it dates from the '30's.

The serial number, while probably present, is covered with thick, dark, old, varnish, so it is not available as info at present. There is no sign of a decal or other branding

The trim looks to be Mahogany, but is dark and weathered. I haven't gone investigating yet. The decks have a coaming, the ends of which are let into the gunnels to sit flush with the interior face.

The thwarts are nicely carved, being shaped on the bottom as well as the top. Bolted in with Hex nuts, but the these could be replacements. They are installed such that there is no center thwart, just one back of the bow seat, and one in the stern quarter.

The seats have been recaned, but with nylon string rather than cane. Better that than a slab of plywood!

There are some floorboards, which are three slats per side. Whatever would have been used to install them has long been gone, so they are loose.

Overall, its in pretty good shape. Lots to do, including a midship gunnel break, but mostly its just old and tired.


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HI Douglas,

It certainly looks like an Otca, and '30s seems like a reasonable timeframe. You should be able to see the impression of diamond-headed bolts in the gunwales. Two thwarts would be standard for a 16' model, which this appears to be. The floor rack appears to be standard Old Town from this era, but you should be able to find screw holes along the midline where the attachment buttons were once mounted. Some Otcas had higher ends and more upward curve to the sheer in the ends, but I've seen ones with lower profile like this one.

The only odd thing is the coamings- they appear to be very low with respect to the decks. A typical Otca coaming would be raised above the decks in the center, and then merge with the gunwale such that the upper edges of the coaming and the inwale are flush with each other. Perhaps someone re-mountd the coamings too low, or maybe they were cut down for some reason.

In any case, it does look like and Otca.



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Thanks, Michael.

The coamings look to be replacements. The didn't look right to my eye, either. They are parallel with no rise in the center, the bottom does not line flush with the bottom of the gunnels, and there are only 4 screws on the bow coaming, 5 on the stern, and not very well spaced. They also don't fit the edge of the deck as well as I would expect of original Old town fittings.

I had checked for the diamond shape impression, but can't find any evidence. That could have been eliminated by any number of events. Were hex nuts ever used?

From the looks of things, I'm going to have to use slot head screws. D***.

I haven't looked closely for the floor boards yet. It will be quite awhile before I can get around to this one, lots of work already booked in. I'm still waiting for the work survey to be approved. The owner is elderly. We'll see...
I agree with both of you that it looks like an Otca from the 1930s and mahogany trim would indicate an AA grade canoe. I have never seen hex bolts used through the gunwale from the factory like this although they did transition from square nuts to hex nuts on the bottoms of the bolts. The coamings, sheer curve, and several other things look a bit unusual but overall it still looks more like an Old Town than anything else. The serial number should answer this question when you get around to it. Is there any indication that this canoe spent enough time in salt water that all of the large bronze parts required replacement at some point?

Thanks Benson,

The closest saltwater is in Churchill, only 1004 km north, so not likely. From what I understand, its been kept at and used at a family cottage on or near Lake of the Woods.