Discontinued Canoe Resources


Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
I have scoured the internet hand for some reason cannot find any pictures of the Mansfield made by Stowe Canoe Company. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Also, I found a serial number that partially reads something like this:
SW533851??413?? stamped / pressed into the bow. Partially illegible due to age.

Where could I maybe find more info on this Canoe?
Does anyone here own one or has anyone refurbished one and have any pics?
A Tale of Two Canoe (Companies)

Actually, there where to canoe companies, often confused. Merrimack Canoes was started in 1954 in Merrimack, NH and made wood ribbed FG canoes. They operated in NH until 1972 when they moved to Tennessee. About 1994, they again moved, this time to Florida where they continue to build and sell boats, very much like the orginals.

Stowe Canoes was originally Tubbs Snowshoes, founded in Maine 1906. My understanding is sometime in the late 70s or early 80s, the company was looking to expand their market and maybe, bouyed by the success of nearby Mad River Canoe company decided to produce a fiberglass canoe with wood ribs to mimic the classic wood canvas canoe of the region. I was told by someone from that area that legal sword rattling followed but Merrimack Canoes felt confident they could compete with the newcomers. Stowe produced the Mansfield (....Merrimack... confusing!) and continued to produce snowshoes including the new fangled aluminium framed snowshoe that was very popular among mountain climbers. All though the Merrick and Mansfield canoes looked much alike, the quality of the Merrimack was far superior. I restored on Mansfield canoe and found carpet trim strip nails holding the stem bands in place. Stowe/Tubbs was bought by an investor in the early 90s, sunk a bunch of money in it, then lost everything. Tubbs Snowshoes is now owned by K2 (ski-fame) and is based in Seattle. Stowe canoes died quietly.

At least, that's what I heard.
Thanks Roger...
Do you have any pictures of your Mansfield restore? May I ask what would be the best way to restore the interior? The wood ribs are intact, but a lot of the (I think) varnish has come off. Should I just Scotchbrite everything down and apply some new varnish? What would you recommend?

Hay Steve,
I used a random orbit sander with 120 to cut through what was left of the varnish and to clean up the darkened areas without varnish. You have to use a light hand and be very careful not to cut through the edges of the 1/16" veneer ribs-keep the sander flat and moving. I started in the middle of the boat until a got the "feel." I made some effort to scuff sand the resin between ribs a bit, mostly by hand and coated the entire interior with spar varnish. I started out only wanting to do the ribs but the nice pretty varnished ribs looked awful next to the cruddy resin of the hull, hence the varnish everywhere! I had a bit of trouble matching the varying shades of the ribs, some very light, some very dark. I used stain on the worst offenders ,but the customer was not looking for a museum piece so I left most of it alone. There where a couple ribs that had either gaping splits or deterioration and I scarfed a new piece of veneer into them, sanded, shaped and varnished.

Of course, taking before and after photos would require forethought and planning....ya, right!

Good luck with the project.
"bouyed by the success of nearby Mad River Canoe company"

Vermont Tubbs actually had some sort of connection to Mad River at one point. Back in the early 1970s I owned one of the very early Mad River Malecite canoes and they were being distributed at that time by Tubbs. It had the typical big Mad River Canoe labels along the sides just under the gunwale, but it said something like "Mad River Canoe by Vermont Tubbs. The Henrys were making really good fiberglass hulls and had pioneered the idea of wooden gunwales and trim on a fiberglass hull. Simple as it seems, it was quite revolutionary at the time and did a lot to dress up a glass boat. Tubbs had access to lots of really good white ash for gunwales and trim and could make the babiche seats that the boats came with. It was a really nice little canoe. As far as I know, the association didn't last long and they soon split and went their own directions, but Tubbs always seemed to be looking for non-winter products (other than just making rocking chairs) to expand their line. Maybe that's why they picked up another canoe company.
Hi Todd,
I hope you still have that Malecite. The Malecite is my favorite Mad River, ahhhkkkmmm, as far as plastic canoes go, of course. I got involved with MRC in '86 and there was no mention of Tubbs. Thanks for filling in the gaps.
Unfortunately not. Back when I first found them, I was working at a shop that sold canoes in my spare time when I wasn't playing music with the band. I told my boss that he should try them. He called them and they said the initial order would be 12 boats. He didn't want to take the risk.

Not long afterwards, I happened to be talking to a guy I knew who owned another backpacking shop in town that didn't do much with boats, mostly just climbing and backpacking stuff. I mentioned them and that I thought the wood trim/fiberglass hull thing had potential. He decided to call them up, they said 12 boats, he said "How about 2 boats?" and they said OK. The first two were my Malecite and his TW Special. That guy, by the way, was Charlie Wilson, later to become Charlie Wilson the freestyle canoeist.

I eventually bought part of the shop that I was working at and at that point it wasn't terribly cool to be paddling the competition's brand of canoes, so the Malecite got sold. I had also just picked up a dealership for the Hazen-designed strippers from Wilderness Boats, which are among my all-time favorite canoes. About 20 years later, I was working for a Mad River dealer and always meant to pick up another Malecite, but just never got around to it. I don't know what all they're building these days, but the stuff I see at shows and in shops looks extremely plastic and frankly, rather crappy. In many ways, I could say the same thing about most of the offerings I see from Old Town. I guess we've come to the point where you can't afford to be be a big, production canoe company unless you can squirt them out like candy corn or garbage cans (although We-No-Nah still does a pretty good job with their composite line). I might have to start a "Fiberglass Canoe Heritage Association".....
CCHA- Composite Canoe Heritage Association, that would include all Kevlar, Spectra and Carbon boats also.
I was the paddlesports buyer during MRC's decline. I had a customer cut there hand open when they reached up under the deck and a sharp edge caught them. Kay Henry really didn't care..... That was just before she sold to Wilderness Systems. The real plunge happened when they moved to NC. Andy Zimmerman tried to uphold the MRC reputation but he sold out to the Atlanta investment group and that was that. If it's not rotomolded, Dick's SG can't sell it since they are incapable of explaining more than what's written on the hang tag (often-not even that!).

I've always like Wenonah, they build a nice boat and run a nice company. It took them forever to design a boat that would turn within a 100yd radius and appeal the Eastern paddlers, but finely came around....

Interesting story about Charlie. I meet him when he was GRADE V (or 6, I forget). He and I went through the ACA Instructor Certification class together, the first non-whitewater cert class ACA ever held. (The instructor trainer could not understand why we where not spinning 180 degrees when we performed a sweep. As she grow more frustrated with us "flatwater paddlers" my wife intervened and offered she teach from her Sawyer Classic instead of her MRC ME. The afternoon class went much better!) Harry Roberts was also in that class. He was a neat guy.

Actually, it should be the CCKHA- Composite Canoe and Kayak Association. Then we can include the wonderful designs of Wilderness System and the Greenland boats built in Michigan who's name escapes me.......