Detroit Canoe Company

Kathryn Klos

squirrel whisperer
Pictured here and in the reply below are two examples of the Hudson River model, both (obviously) unrestored. The one needing considerable help is a 16 footer; the less-challenging example is a 15 footer.

Note that the deck-style could be mistaken for that of an Old Town. One of these canoes has a 4-digit serial number and one has a 5 digit, located on the stem. Someone could mistake a Detroit for an Old Town and be given an Old Town build record.

Our 15 foot Detroit is missing its seats, so I've included a pictures of the seats on the needier canoe for reference. The caning-pattern is "the canoe weave", but I don't know if it's original to the canoe. I think it may be, based on the fact that the other seat was re-woven with twine and the canoe, in general, hasn't had any decent work on it... just a 2X4 nailed to one side.

Brass medallions were affixed to the bow decks of these canoes. The 16 foot canoe is older, and its medallion has deeper embossing-- that of the more-recent 15 footer is a shallower embossing.

Denis and I examined a 16 foot Detroit Hudson River model in the collection of the Canadian Canoe Museum. It's a sponson canoe in original condition with a nice two-tone color scheme. I've put a video of this canoe on YouTube at:

I'll post pictures of the 16 footer separately.



  • Det medallions1.jpg
    Det medallions1.jpg
    15.5 KB · Views: 786
  • Detroit15 bow.JPG
    Detroit15 bow.JPG
    760.3 KB · Views: 840
  • Detroit15.jpg
    828.2 KB · Views: 880
  • Detroit 15deck n stem.jpg
    Detroit 15deck n stem.jpg
    17.9 KB · Views: 851
Detroit Canoe Company, continued

A few more...


  • Detroit16 bow seat.jpg
    Detroit16 bow seat.jpg
    743.7 KB · Views: 737
  • Detroit16 stern.jpg
    Detroit16 stern.jpg
    742.8 KB · Views: 708
  • Detroit 16stern seat.jpg
    Detroit 16stern seat.jpg
    785.4 KB · Views: 802
Yukon River Model

A couple pictures of a 17 foot Yukon River model Detroit canoe, in the collection of Ralph Frese. This model is long-decked and mahogany-trimmed. All Detroit Canoe Company canoes have closed gunwales.

Note placement of the medallion in the center of the bow coaming... and also note the medallion is the same as that on the Hudson River model, except for the name of the model-- "Yukon River".


  • Detroit Yukon River.jpg
    Detroit Yukon River.jpg
    322.6 KB · Views: 676
  • Detroit Yukon River2.jpg
    Detroit Yukon River2.jpg
    147.2 KB · Views: 685
One of these years we'll be able to try out our 15 footer! It's interesting that we don't seem to run into Detroits all that often, even here in Michigan-- yet the company advertised heavily.
Detroit vs Old Town

Kathy is correct to point out that the deck style and serial numbers are similar between Detriot and Old Towns. The striking difference is that the outwales of a Detroit extend beyond the stem. It is visible in the second photo of the #3 post above. It is not visible in the photos of posts #1 & #2 because the outwales are gone or the tips rotted. On Old Towns the outwales extended past the stem only on canoes built prior to 1906.

I wish I was able to visit Ralph's collection. It looks like you saw some cool stuff.