courting canoe

ghost paddler

Curious about Wooden Canoes
hi,would someone please explain what makes a canoe a courting canoe?is an otca with 30 in.decks and closed gunnels considered a courter? thanks. mike:confused:
Hi Mike,

You can court someone in any canoe, but the term "courting canoe" generally refers to the canoes used on the Charles River, and similar places, where canoes were once rented for the specific purpose of entertainment. Long decks create a cozy area-- made cozier with pillows. Courting canoes typically have extended (torpedo) stems and are painted with fancy designs.

Canoes built by the many builders along the Charles River are generally referred to as courting canoes. B.N. Morris made a courting canoe used on Belle Isle in Detroit, and other builders-- such as the Detroit Boat Company-- also made canoes for the courting scene.

Old Town made a canoe called the Charles River, but it isn't a courting canoe (although you could use it to court if you wanted to...). Old Town made a Molitor model in the 1920s that was based on the canoes B.N. Morris built for use in the Belle Isle courting scene... and Old Town refers to the later '60s version of the Molitor as a courting canoe... it resembles a short-decked canoe by a Charles River builder and has torpedo stems.

Is this confusing? It's late. And I guess the simple answer is that an Otca isn't a courting canoe, but go ahead and take her for a spin in it, with backrest and pillows and music and a picnic basket.

A courting canoe by definition is a canoe for a couple to court in as Kathy mentioned. This means that any canoe which can hold two people could qualify. (I suppose that a narcissist could court themself in a solo canoe but that would be a special case.)

The courting canoes in the early 1900s often included things like long decks, extended torpedo stems, high tips, lots of mahogany, fancy paint designs, closed gunwales, and other features. The analog today is to have a sports car or to 'pimp your ride' for cruising. There is no hard and fast rule that a courting canoe is required to have all or a specified number of these features so you will probably get as many answers as people you ask. An Otca typically has twenty inch decks with high tips and a nice round stem. I will go out on a limb and suggest that an Otca with unusually long thirty inch decks, in AA grade with all mahogany trim, closed gunwales, and a fancy paint job could be considered a courting canoe, especially if you add a fan back rest, pillows, a nice picnic lunch with suitable beverages, an attractive partner, on a relaxing summer afternoon, etc.

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Although, in full agreement with the above I would like to add that the most "essential" feature of a Courting Canoe is the lack of a central thwart...

A while back, I read an interesting article concerning the reason for that lack...for the life of me I cannot remember the reason why??? They say the second thing to go with age is the memory ;).
The center thwart on most Old Town canoes were secured by wing nuts so they could be easily removed. Many of them have bolts and no thwart today.


I believe it was Ken Kelly who said that the long decks and lack of a center thwart facilitated the suitor easy access to his intended sweetheart. She couldn't get far away and she had not thwart to er---uh----thwart him off.
Same goes for Morris canoes-- you are fortunate if your 18 foot Morris still has its center thwart! (The thwart could have been removed for fishing gear, however...)
Courting canoes

Being a new proud owner of a slightly beat-up courting canoe I have become an expert on canoe design and structure. My theory is that besides giving the opportunity for more contact with your lady than just playing footsie the canoes with the the 3'-4' decks don't need the center thwarts structurally. Hidden under the little side decks on my Robertson is a very thick inwale that only has to span unbraced between decks.

As many here probably already know, the "modern" ('60s-present) Old Town Molitor is thwartless... entirely thwart-free... unthwartable.