Double Ender ID Help Needed


LOVES Wooden Canoes
I could sure use some help identifying this boat I picked up! It was the seller’s parents’ Northern California lake house boat, and had been in the family a long time. Seller called it an “OT 1955 Voyager”.
It is 16 feet long and about 40 inches wide and 16 inches deep amidships. No serial number is stamped on the stems, which are 1 3/8” wide. It has outside stems and a keel. The inwales and outwales are not tapered.
Ribs are 5/16” thick and vary in width from 1 5/8”- 2 1/18”. Spacing between ribs also varies, but averages about 1 7/8”. Planking is 3 ¼” wide.
Original oar locks are galvanized and magnetic. I do not have the horns.
It was sailed by the family, but not everything seems original. The mast step is mounted to the floor rack, which does not fit between all the ribs in the boat. The seats are very crude (like 1970’s kitchen cabinetry) and I’m guessing are not original. The mast fits in a metal bracket attached to a seat.
Thanks in advance for your help!

Mike Wootton - Spokane, WA


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Well, I hit both stems with some stripper. I wish I would have worked a little slower, because I uncovered some penciled numbers, that I bet were part of the serial number. One stem had written 1235-16 or 1236-16. The "-16" went away as soon as I wiped it with my thumb. Any guesses as to the age of the boat? Thanks in advance.

Mike Wootton
Well, if it is indeed that for a serial number, you have a freakin' ancient Old Town, as in one of the oldest known boats. I'm sure Benson will chime in. Mine is a 1907, and the serial was 5ksomething. There are VERY few 4 digit Old Towns around, especially in as nice a condition as yours.
I figured it was a partial... Bummer I didn't see the writing before I hit it with the stripper. Does around 1955 sound about right to you?
I'm not sure if the scrolly seat supports give any indication of age or not, but I'm working on a early '30's OT Square Stern Paddling Canoe that has the scrolly seat supports and planked tops . I've seen a few double Enders and square stern's, but never with that style of seats....usually a single board plank, and the occasional caned seat in square sterns.
I was thinking that the one in my shop may have been altered at some point, but now I'm thinking it came that way from the factory.
Does around 1955 sound about right to you?

No, it may be more than fifty years older than that. The seats match Mark's as shown below. The lack of a serial number stamp is very odd, the only other known Old Town serial number in pencil that I've seen was in a four foot long model. I checked the serial numbers 11235, 11236, 111235, 111236, 12350-12369, and 112350-112369 but didn't find a double ended boat. There are no existing serial number records for numbers 1235 or 1236. The oldest known Old Town is arguably the canoe shown at with serial number 201. The very old double ended boats seem to be in better condition than most canoes of a similar age. It may be that their extra weight caused them to be used less frequently. Yours is likely to remain a mystery,



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anyone know when they quit using that style of seat?

Dave has one from the "early '30's" mentioned here and they were no longer used in the 1960s but that doesn't narrow it down much. The early catalogs always showed the seats as a single board and never at an angle where you could see the details of the seat supports. Others may be able to provide additional data points.

Thanks so much for trying! I'm excited to have an oldie in such good shape. Here is a photo of what remains on the stem. image.jpg
It seems to me that with open gunwales it is not as old as a four digit serial number would suggest. I always figured that after 1912 or so most of the canoes built by Old Town were open gunwale unless closed gunwales were requested by the customer.

Just my 2 cents and you may be over paying at that. Very nice boat by the way.

Hi Jim,

I believe the canoes were built closed, but since this isn't a canoe but rather a boat, open was the way they were built from the git-go.
1913 Old Town CS Grade

This is a 1913. Both end seats and one middle are single plank. This was a camp boat so it was probably equipped with those during it's camp life.

It is interesting that the decks are different in the two boats - this 1913 has decks shaped like Mark's. And the scroll work in all three appears to differ.


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This is a pic of mine, all done. The only woodwork I needed to do was the replacement of 2x 4" x 4" pieces of planking that were between two ribs. (directly opposite each other, on the center of the boat. Odd damage...)

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It does appear that open style gunwales appear more frequently on the early double ended boats than on canoes of the same age. It is interesting to note that the gunwales were identified as "Dbl." or double on the build record. The phrase "Open Gunwales" first appears in the 1906 catalog but many of the early build records use this 'double' notation. The early catalog pictures of the double ended boat all have closed gunwales and single plank seats as shown below.

The 1929 catalog was the last one to offer closed gunwales as an option on the Guide's Special model canoes. The database project neglected to record if a canoe had open or closed gunwales so I can't offer any estimates about the percentage of canoes that had them or how this changed over time.



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Doesn't "double" designate a different gunwale than either "open" or "closed? Are you saying double gunwales was an option on the early double enders?
Doesn't "double" designate a different gunwale than either "open" or "closed? Are you saying double gunwales was an option on the early double enders?

It is always risky to make a sweeping generalization based a single example but in this case it seems that "Spruce Dbl." was something that looked very much like what is called an open gunwale today. The "Mahogany Dbl." as shown at from the same period and described at is a completely different closed style gunwale. The early catalog pictures of these boats appear to show a more traditional closed gunwale with thin rail caps and narrow outside finish rails. I suspect that the factory would have built a double ended boat with nearly any style gunwales that someone was willing to pay for. Let me know if this doesn't answer your question.

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