Crusty old bugger

Wade Smith

Curious about Wooden Canoes
In an all-Old Town canoe restoration class, we got one outlier: a 16' W/C canoe, that the owner bought "from a summer camp in Maine". Very flat sheer, skinny (32" beam), built of a hodge-podge of red oak, mahogany, and almost all steel fastenings.

But, a canoe at a summer camp probably got 60 years worth of maintenance and repair from.... well, all sorts.

Tonight I got the stern stem out, and soaked the heel (where a number might be) with acetone - it too is red oak, and a faint number in odd, large, loopy font emerged: looks like "800323 16".

Doesn't seem to match the OT numbering system, nor does the boat seem like an OT. But it must be commercially made.

Any ideas what she may be?
My guess is that you have the Kennebec canoe with number 800323. This is a 16 foot long Camp Chief model as shown on page 374 and 375 of volume five in the Kennebec ledgers. It was planked by Mansell on November 2nd, 1940. The canvas covering and first filler coat were applied by Thib. on the same day. He applied the second filler coat on November 9th, 1940. It was railed by Mansell on November 16th, 1940. The "F 22" (Function number 22 or the keel?) was completed by Thib. on the same day. The "F24" (Function number 24 or the thwarts?) were completed by Thib. on November 23rd, 1940. The original color was green and with "B. S. of A. Hartford" lettered on the outside. It shipped to location 41-16 on November 20th, 1940. This location is probably an order number but we don't currently have enough information to identify it. The last two dates appear to be out of order but that is what the record shows.

The scans of these build records can be found by following the links at the attached thumbnail images below. These original Kennebec records are reproduced through the courtesy of the Maine State Museum.

k-800323-a.jpg k-800323-b.jpg

The microfilms and scans of these records were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA). I hope that you will join or renew your membership to 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 this description doesn't match your canoe. More information about Kennebec is available at in the Historic Wood Canoe and Boat Company Catalog Collection. The information at describes a similar canoe. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions,