George Stephenson

chris pearson

Michigan Canoe Nut
This was in the warehouse at the Canadian Canoe Museum. Great lines, anyone know more about the builder?


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Here's some background that Dick was good enough to supply a while back. Dick is a great resource and a real credit to w/c enthuisiasts.

"Canoe builder George R. Stephenson (l865 - 1945) was born in Peterborough, Ontario. He was the second son to pioneer canoe builder and inventor John S. Stephenson and grew up helping out in his fathers shop. He left Peterborough in 1885 against his father's wishes, to work in Auburndale, Massachusetts for the canoe builder J.R. Robertson Canoe Co. A couple of years later the firm H.V. Partelov & Co also in Auburndale, Massachusetts, offered George better wages. During his period with both these companies it was advertised that they now built and sold "modified Peterborough wide board canoes".

In 1890 on advice from his friends, George set up his own business in the old Newton Boat Club's vacated premises on the Charles River. In the early 1890's, George came near death during a typhoid epidemic. He fled the city and the river and came to the Lovell area in Maine to recuperate.

George liked the area and moved his business from Auburndale to a Norway, Maine. He rented the 2nd floor of a big three story building (100ft x 40 ft) behind the Opera House in Norway. A fire destroyed the building, George's tools and inventory in May of 1894. George never gave up but started anew and remained in the Lovell area for the rest of his life where he apperently produced more than 1000 boats and canoes.

During the slow times during the war (WW1) as well as later he also worked at Brown’s Camps in Center Lovell (later the Severance Lodge) as a guide. He died April 4th 1945 after suffering a stroke.

George Stephenson primarily built canvas covered canoes and small row boats. A trademark of his earlier canoes is the small drop shaped decks with extended side reinforcements, the nicely carved and shaped thwarts and the uniquely assembled and crafted closed gunwales. George is remembered as a man who loved simple things, whether in matters of personal habits or in his craft. His reputation as a skillful workman is well and widely known. The boat and canoe building industry lost a master builder when he passed away.

After his death in 1945, one of his employees, Byron (Floyd) Whitehouse took over the business. The business changed name a couple of times and seem to have closed sometime mid to late 1950’s.

PS. Please note that his birth date was August 9th, 1865 not 1856 as it says on his tombstone and in some literature.


Dick Persson

Headwater Canoe Company

Buckhorn, Ontario, Canada

Phone: 705-657-2601"