English Canoes


Is there any possibility that WCHA will publish the English Canoe Company catalogs (as it has for Old Town, White and a number of others)? I know it has several catalogs, which are currently under lock and key with the WCHA Historians. Why all the secrecy? :confused:
My understanding is that the WCHA was reluctant to widely distribute their collection of catalog photocopies because of concerns about getting sued over copyright, trademark, or other issues. Most of these photocopies are exceptionally poor quality so I doubt that anyone would ever consider using them to publish a reprint. One option would be to contact Al Bratton about becoming a WCHA Historian with your own full set of the WCHA catalogs. Another option would be to send me an electronic mail message with your address and I will see if I can arrange to get you a copy of the 1903, 1909, and 1919 William English catalogs from the WCHA collection. I don't keep my set "under lock and key" nor do I believe that anyone currently seeks to keep this information secret.

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I don't know all the details, but this is the situation as I understand it...

The historian stuff is mostly photocopies, or photocopies of photocopies. I do not believe the WCHA owns any original catalogs of its own. As one of the historians, I was told on receipt of the material that we were not supposed to make copies, the reason, as Benson said, was something to do with fear of violating copyright issues. A non-issue in my opinion for most if it, but there you are. For more details about this I suggest you contact Al Bratton directly, as he is in charge of the Historian group and those materials. His contact information can be found in the masthead of the Journal.

The WCHA does own a collection of old canoeing books. These were originally held by the WCHA Librarian (the last one was Dave Baker). They were made easily available (along with a photocopier) to the membership at an assembly a few years ago, and subsequently deposited at the Adirondack Museum under special agreement. Not necessarily easy for all to get to, but they are available there. I do not recollect any original manufacturers catalogs being part of that collection.

As for the WCHA reprinting an English catalog, or any other for that matter, there has been no discussion of this recently. I spoke with Dave Baker a few years ago about this and we bantered about a few ideas of what would make a good addition to the reprint library. Nothing came of this before Dave passed away. If this is something the members want the board to consider, then the members should let the board know. Again, all the contact info is in every journal.

William English catalogs are not common at all. Apart from the poor quality photocopies in the Historian collection, I do not know of anyone possessing one. Not one has appeared on Ebay in the last five years. If one were to become available to me somehow, you can be assured it will appear on our Canadian CD.

The only other suggestions I can offer is to contact the Canadian Canoe Museum or Roger MacGregor. Given Roger's track record in reprinting Canadian company catalogs, he is probably the most likely to produce a reprint. Let him know you want one...

Copies of the WCHA's English catalogs were mailed to you on Friday with Al's permisson. I am very well aware of the problems that have existed in the past with access to WCHA's catalog collection. This is one of the issues that fueled my desire to create the catalog CDs with Dan.

I am not an attorney but my research shows that prior to 1962 the copyright protection existed for 28 years with the possibility of one 28 year renewal. These laws changed in 1978 giving everything covered by copyright at that time an automatic extension. This implies that something copyrighted in 1922 and extended in 1950 might still be covered today but that anything from 1921 and earlier would not be covered. These William English catalogs are clearly outside of copyright protection as I understand it.

My new avatar shows the Old Town Molitor that my wife and I gave each other as our first anniversary present. I freely admit to having a considerable bias in my small boat manufacturer preferences.

Your William English canoe sounds like a wonderful one. Let me know if you want anything else,

Here are a few. It is an 1890s English 20 that (according to anecdotal provenance) was owned by William English and his family for many years, and then sold to a family in CT in the 1920s. I acquired it from the great-grandson in California four years ago. It was revarnished in the 1970s, but at this point needs a complete resoration.


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Thank You for the photos.A very beautiful canoe.From the pictures it seems in remarkable condition. What needs to be done for a restoration?
Remove the 1970s varnish, which was applied with more enthusiasm than skill. Repair and fill some small areas around the decks and stems, and revarnish. Not all that much work, actually, but pretty messy.
Howdy Robert,that is a beauuuuutiful canoe - maybe you can put it on the all wood forum? I just e-mailed a friend of mine at the Clayton Antique Boat Museum in Clayton,N.Y. I'll let you know what i find out.lee...