history and restoration help


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I would like some help about identifing an old conoe I have. It is an 18' wood and canvas canoe. It has a plate on it that says Thompson Bros. Boat MFg Com. Peshtigo Wis. The canoe has been in my family since the early 60's when my dad bought it at auction. Originally it had a fan back seat that went up against the cross arms but it is long gone. I am going to try and recanvas it. The wood is in ok shape some of the ribs are cracked. I would like to find out about the history of who built it and if they are still around if they have some ribs or if their is someone in the Virginia area that makes them. Thanks
Thompson Brothers had a plant in Peshtigo Wi, and also (for a while) in Cortland NY. The company had gone out of business and back in business several times, but I believe is gone again.

You can look at the following link at Dan Miller's site, which may help you identify it. http://dragonflycanoe.com/id/index.html

Dan also sells a CD with historic Thompson Catalogs, which is fun to look at if you are into Thompson boats and canoes.

Thompson Brothers Boat company built a variety of canoes, but their most popular wood and canvas canoes seem to have been the Indian, Hiawatha and Ranger models. These canoes changed shape, and it seems, names over the years, but in general, the Indian had a long nose profile, and no half ribs, the Hiawatha had the same shape as the Indian, but with full size half ribs, and the Ranger had a more traditional stem profile, and lower sheer line. The Ranger was available in 15 to 17 foot lengths, the Indain 15 to 18 ft, and the Hiawatha 16 to 18 ft lengths. I have one of the original Thompson forms for the 18 foot Hiawatha model, you can check out my website to see if your canoe matches this model at:

Some other Thompson related links are:


Best of luck with the canoe
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Thanks for the info. My canoe has the brass plate but I don't have a clue to the type of wood. From the pictures your canoe looks like mine. The shape is the same and the size also the weights are close.. What is a half rib? Would the ribs you all make fit in my canoe? Do you have the planking to replace damaged ones? It is really great to find something out about this canoe. I never have been able to find out much about them. The story that came from the auction as I recall it was that this fellow had several canoes and these big ones he would rent out as work canoes on the river around Fredericksburg. also these big ones were rented so fellows could take there girl friends out and that was what the fan seat was for. He said there were very stable which for Dad was very important as he did not wish to lose any of us youngsters!! At any rate the fellow who owned all the canoes had passed away in the fifties and his family just could not decide what to do and had finally decided to auction everything off that would have been in like 63 or 64. I believe my Dad paid $52.00 for the canoe,paddles,portage wagon and the fan seat. Thanks John
Sounds like your father got a really good deal with the canoe and accesories.
The half ribs are the short ribs along the bottom of the canoe. If your canoe has the two longitudinal stringers that run along the bilge covering the ends of the half ribs, there is a reasonably good chance you have the Hiawatha model. See the picture attached. These canoes typically had northern white cedar ribs, and western red cedar planking. The ribs are difficult to replace on these canoes due to the stringers, which prevents just putting a new rib in from the inside. If you canoe lacks the stringers, then replacing ribs would be much easier. If the ribs are just cracked they may or may need replacing, it is something you will have to judge.
If you do not have a copy already, you should try to obtain a copy of the "Wood and Canvas Canoe" by Jerry Stelmok and Rollin Thurlow, it will give you the basics of building and repairing, and some snippets of Thompson history.


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Yes taht is a picture of the inside of my canoe. One piece runs from the top of one side to the top of the other and the next just covers the bottom. It also has the two stringers that you speak of. In that section of the canoe most everything is ok. Afew hairline splits in the wood. But just behind the rear seat there is a rib that is broken out and there is a plywood patch there with some interesting wood work holding it all together.I'll look for that book and once agin thanks for the help.