HB Arnold Courting Canoe

Paul Miller

Canoe Nut
After a long dry spell, I have added a new member to the canoe family.

With the help of this wonderful site I think I have ID the canoe as a H.B. Arnold Courting Canoe. I have attached a number of pics. The serial number appears to be 370 17 and stamped in numbers that are the same style as another serial number on a stem posted on this site positively ID's as an Arnold canoe built in 1916.

Bad news, someone had fiberglassed it quite a while ago, but I have been able to remove some without much difficulty or damage to the planking.

The canoe appears to have original decks on one end and replacements on the other. The decks are 48" and the original needs repair and the other is in good shape, but are made of 4 pieces which can not be correct. The combing has all been replaced with Oak and I would assume it should be Mahogany just like the decks.

One ID feature my be the brackets for the rudder are attached to the outwale with Rivets and not screws.

It came with a mast, spars and sail along with the rudder, but no leeboards or leeboard thwart.

I would like to confirm proper construction detail of the decks etc. for the restoration.




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Hi Paul,

I was talking with Peter M. this morning and he told me you snapped this one up quick! Good for you; it's a pretty canoe. I can't believe it was still out there, though. I saw this one a long time ago, and assumed it was sold by now. In any case, glad you're happy with it and that the fiberglass is coming off nicely. And a 17' canoe... by far my favorite length in a courting canoe.

I've seen several of these courting canoes set up for sailing, and all looked like aftermarket jobs. Do you think this is true with this canoe? At least some of the builders offered sailing equipment, but the few courting canoes with sailing rigs just didn't seem to have the quality that you'd expect (or they appeared to use Old Town parts). Just curious about this canoe.

I'm trying to polish off a couple of courting canoe restorations this summer... a 16' unknown, and a 17' Robertson or Waltham... fun work. Have fun with your restoration!

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Paul Miller said:
One ID feature my be the brackets for the rudder are attached to the outwale with Rivets and not screws.

These gudgeons appear to be the same type as Old Town used and they also frequently used rivets not screws. It looks like a nice one and good luck with the restoration.

Plank patern and decks

The first answer to Michael would be that the hole in the deck appears to be after market and not original.

I have attached a few pictures of the planking pattern which matches the pattern of a second courting canoe I have with short decks.

We use planking pattern to ID other brands of canoe and I was wondering if all of the Charles River area builders used the same pattern. I have never seen any plank pattern pictures associated with know canoes.

The pattern on what I believe are Arnold canoes has the first three planks from the bottom run up to the stem much like a Thompson. The following three planks run to points as they meet the plank beneath it.(picture attached) The other strange thing I have never seen on any other canoes is the cut, or Gore on the top three planks that runs through 80% of the plank with one tack at the bottom and two pairs up the gore.(picture attached)

I'm wondering if other have seen this method of cutting the plank or the planking pattern on the other Charles River builders.

I have also attached a picture of my deck from what could be an Arnold canoe which is not like any of the known decks in the other picture also attached.

This may have been covered elsewhere but I can't find anything.

Thanks for any help.



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Planking pattern

Hi Paul:

Here is the planking pattern on a likely short deck Robertson. This is the canoe that your Robertson short deck photo came from. It is stamped Robertson on the thwart, but some folks suggest that may be a livery stamp.

Note the planking pattern and WIDE plank.

I have another Robertson with a name plate. I will shoot the planking on that canoe when I get a chance.

PS: Just so there is no confusion here, I am not suggesting that Paul's canoe is a Robertson. He asked if other CR builders used similar planking patterns and I had a photo handy indicating other CR builders did use similar planking patterns.


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One of ours is very much like your new canoe. Our "DOT" has the same kind of planking pattern, with bottom 4 (in yours 3) planks running all the way to the stem and the rest horizontal and gored along a common diagonal line (see photo below). In addition, DOT has the 80% or so gores at every other rib, presumably to help the planking lie flat near the sheer in this canoe with considerable tumblehome.

One more point- DOT's serial number is in the same unusual font- what I call "frilly"- as is yours. However, the ends of the stems are not chamfered as yours are (chamfered along the length, but not at the ends).

A canoe we have that perfectly fits Waltham and Robertson catalog descriptions does NOT share the features that yours and DOT share.

While DOT seems "Arnold-ish" to me, I am extremely hesitant to throw names at boats unless I really have some reasonable indication that that maker really made the canoe. My feelings about this being Arnold are solely from the rumors I've listened to (rumors with no facts to back them up). I have no good evidence that DOT is an Arnold, but I don't believe it is Robertson or Waltham, at least not the kinds of Robertsons and Walthams I am awre of.



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Thanks Michael you bring up another point of comparison.

The Kingsbury short deck canoe of mine is the canoe that has three straight planks and three that are gored along the horizontal line. Only the stem tip has a rabbet or chamfered and not the entire outside edge of the gunnel.

The long decked canoe I think may be an Arnold, has four narrower planks on the bottom that all run to the stem and then all plank above it are gored to the horizontal line of the plank below it. On this canoe only the tip of the stem is cut to have the plank fit flush to the stem tip. So your DOT and my canoe are similar except the distinct difference of how the plank was attached to the gunnel.

I saw this technique for the first time on my 15' Rushton Indian where he notched the inwale for the rib top like Morris, but then cut the rabbet in the outside edge to fit the plank flush instead of tapering the plank as Morris did.

I think we are creating a good list of characteristics to help distinguish canoes, provided the same builder did not change his method after finding something he liked better.

I would like someone with a proven Arnold to step in and provide some pictures or details of construction of gunnels, planking pattern etc.

Thanks all,

Hi Paul,

Here is a photo of the planking pattern of my two Charles River canoes.

The 16 ft has a nickel plated brass tag on the coaming identifying it as a J. R. Robertson.

The 17 ft is with 99% certainty a Robertson as well. It is missing its coaming tag, but the screw holes and tag imprint fit is exactly as the other.

The 80% relief cut of the planking is actually quite common with many manufacturers. I've seen it on Old Towns, Peterboroughs and Chestnuts.

Dick Persson
Headwater Wooden Boat Shop


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………and for all curious out there, below is a picture of the relief cut of the planking on my “probable” :) 17 ft Robertson.

Dick Persson
Headwater Wooden Boat Shop


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Thanks Dick,

It does appear that all of the Charles River builders did the same thing to the plank because of the tumblehome of that style of canoe. I will say that of the 40+ canoes I have, only the three Charles River built canoe have that feature.

I have attached two pictures I pulled from a prior post that shows the serial number of a known Arnold and a known Robertson. They are very different and my help you Dick in an ID of your canoe.

The first picture is the Roberston and the second is the Arnold.




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