Indian girl

fred capenos

Canoe Pilot
These questions apply to a 17 ft. short deck, closed gunnel, Rushton Indian Girl with two thwarts:

How long is the stern thwart? (distance between the bolts will suffice)
How far forward from the stern seat is the thwart located?
Who is our Indian Girl guru? I have lots of questions!

What year is your Indian Girl?

The early thwarts were different from the newer ones. The old ones were straight with no curve at all. The newer ones had the more shapely ones.

Early was prior to Henry's death in 1906.

I have an early 17' with the two straight thwarts and could measure it for you.

I have attached a picture of my canoe from way back, (black&white) showing the straight thwarts, I could not find the picture I had of the shaped thwarts.

Hope the helps,



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I found the other picture which I posted in a different thread a few months ago.

This is a newer style Indian Girl with the shaped thwart.



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Thanks for the fast reply. I don't know the age of our IG but agree that it is a later canoe. I will attach some photos. I haven't striped the inside yet so we don't know the numbers. Please do measure between the bolts holding the stern thwart. Our canoe is in very good condition as far as rot and broken wood goes, but has been molested. (lots of extra holes). That is why I'm unsure of the thwart location. I've seen pictures of canoes with both one and two thwarts. The only correct thwart that came with our canoe fits behind the bow seat. There was a thwart in the stern but it's oak and looks like an Old Town thwart. And to make matters worse, there are holes for a center thwart. The canoe had a home made mast step so some of the holes are no doubt from a home made sail rig.
Another issue I'm having to deal with is the beam. The Rushton book I have shows the beam for a 17 ft. IG at 33 in. If I measure out to out at the planking I have 34 inches.(thats out to out with the outwales off). And thats with the seat frames and bow thwart installed. Do you have any thoughts on this issue? Thanks, Fred
Hre are the pictures. I hope. Fred


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Hi Fred,

I have not been able to get to the 17' Indian Girl I have with the straight thwarts. The early ones did have two thwarts. After Henry died in 1906 his son took over and made a few changes. The 1910 catalog shows the shaped thwart and mentions that the canoe had "one shaped thwart only, at the center of canoe", but that was the Grade A with the large/wider outwales. The Grade B has less substantial outwales, but the catalog does not mention the number of thwarts in the Grade B.

I wouldn't worry much about the beam measurement as things can spread out with time. Did you find a serial number or the Rushton stamp on the stem? Do you have a wide top plank? the last plank just below the gunnel should be about 7 or 8 inches wide.

I hope to get things moved out of the way and get some pics and measurements.

Thanks again for your interest. I hope to strip the canoe tomorrow, so if there are numbers I'll let you know. The upper part of the stembands were gone when we purchased the canoe so any Rushton wording was gone for ever. The shear planking is narrow. ( 1 1/2" amid ships) The next plank down is four inches wide. Not too concerned about the beam length. I just thought it would help determine the length of the stern thwart if the seat was in and the beam was set at the correct length.
We really appreciate the help. This restoration will be the least demanding that I've done, but the one that has me the most concerned.
Hi Fred,

Well I made my way to the canoe and took a few pics and measurements. I was suprised to see that the canoe measured only 31.5 inches at the center; and that was at the outside edge of the large gunnel.

You can see from the pictures the ribs are rabbited into the inwale with a cap on the outside to come flush with the outside edge of the top cap of the inwale. The serial number on this boat is either 132 or 182 so I would think it was built in 1902 or 1903 which could explain why it measures narrower than the catalog mention of 33 inches. Because this canoe is narrower than yours, I'm not sure a length of the rear thwart would be worth much, but it is 26 3/4 long with the bolt holes at 25 1/2.

I have attached a picture of the "R.H. Rushton, Canton, NY" that is stamped on the stem top forward of the serial number. It is not as deep set as the serial number so it would be possible to sand away if not careful.

The Indian Girl is the top canoe in the pic with two canoes. The canoe under it is a 15' canvased Rushton Indian that was only built as 15' and only appeared in the early catalog. BTW this is the second canoe in the old picture I posted earlier. The people in the canoes are the Grand and Great-grandchildren of the author James Fennimore Cooper.

Good luck,



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Gunnel styles

I was looking closer at your canoe pics and it's easy to see you have the other style gunnels. They are like the gunnels on my 15' Indian that are two pieces. The inwale is rabbited for the stem tops and and then a single large outwale goes over that and is attached with screws from the inside of the inwale out to the outwale.

I have attached a picture showing some of the gunnel of my Indian.

I believe Rushton used both methods on canoes prior to and after 1906, but would have to check the catalog for the description of construction methods for those after 1906.

Hope that helps,



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The gunnels on our IG are like you describe above. The canoe is now stripped and we have a number on both stems along with the words " J H Rushton and Canton NY.The number is 4385. Also, when we got our IG the bow seat was hung from the inwales like Old Town does. Now that it is striped I see shadows where cleats were screwed to the sides. Then I found six steel screws per side that have been cut off on the inside that held the cleats in place. Looks like the seat frame has been cut down to fit.

What does the number tell us?

I have been told that the J.H. Rushton, Canton, NY stamp will tell you the canoe was built prior to the death of Henry.

I'm not sure when they went to the shaped thwarts, but your canoe has them plus the Rushton stamp.

I think we'd have to look up the production numbers if available to determan how many canoes he made in which years to be able to nail down the year it was built, but we know it was between 1902 and 1906 if the J.H. Rushton stamp holds true.

I do have a 16' with shaped thwarts and a serial number that does not have the "Rushton" stamp, so I assume it was built after 1906.

I'm supprised no one else has said anything. I know there are people out there that know more than I do.

Good luck with the restore.

You may be forcing me to really push my envelope and climb the ladder in the barn, to the second floor where our IG is. I know it is "a late one" and has a serial number that I spent some time yesterday trying to find written-down somewhere... and I know everything on the canoe is stamped with however everything was stamped in the later period. I know our IG has a single shaped thwart that says "Indian Girl" on it.

Denis is working, and offered to check the canoe last night but I didn't think that was fair as he'd been laboring hard all day and I'd been in front of the computer.

If I chicken out and can't climb the ladder without someone holding it, we'll check the canoe when Denis gets home.
To keep this thread hopping I will post the pictures I can find of our IG, which I think were posted before, when we discussed the oar locks. Denis is soaking his foot and will hopefully be better enough in the morning to hold the ladder for me.

Our Indian Girl originally belonged to Ken Kelly. It's 18 feet long and has a rowing-seat in addition to the two regular seats, and two sets of oar locks. It is the A-grade, with cherry trim and the ribs are pocketed like a Morris. I recall the s/n was four digits. Oral history has the canoe coming directly from the factory in Canton in the last years of production. Everything is stamped with the name, but we have to check again what that was exactly... in the Rushton catalog (the 1915 one, in the catalog collection on CD) it is stated that other canoe companies were using the Indian Girl name, so Rushton stamped his name all over his canoe--- this would be the son, not the dad.

As I look at the catalogs again, one thing that never matched our particular canoe is the cherry trim--- which is the usual A-grade for the canoe as stated in the earlier catalog, and the later catalog (1915) has the A grade canoe trimmed in mahogany. But our IG was a custom-job with the extra seat, so I have assumed they may have asked for the cherry. Or maybe it was sometimes used for A grade as well as mahogany, in 1915.

The 1907 catalog shows an IG with the straight thwarts, and the 1915 shows an IG with shaped thwarts. Hope this provides some help.



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I have been told that the J.H. Rushton, Canton, NY stamp will tell you the canoe was built prior to the death of Henry.

It's not the presence or absence of a stamp that helps date the canoe, rather it is whether the stamp (or medallion) includes "Inc.". The company was incorporated right after J.H. died, and the canoes built from that point forward were marked "J.H. Rushton, Inc." The deckplate used for J.H. Rushton, Inc. was shield shaped, so the shadow of a missing plate in this shape can also be a useful clue.
Thank's Paul, Dan ,Dennis and Kathy. And Kathy both of you stay out of the barn. Seriously, it's not worth the risk. I have a bunch of questions to ask but I'll just ask two at a time.

Can someone post the dimensions For the cleat that the bow seat sits on and would it be made of cherry?

Does anyone know of a way to enhance the contrast of the stamped letters and numbers on our IG? They are very very faint.

I found the other picture which I posted in a different thread a few months ago.

This is a newer style Indian Girl with the shaped thwart.


Dear Paul, Where is my photo credit. Rushton offered shaped thwarts on his canvas canoes right from the start. Check out the 1902 Catalog.


Robert P. Ross
Ross Bros.
PO Box 60277
Florence, MA 01062


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Thanks Dan,

I knew there was something about the name that changed, but forgot it was simply the addition of "inc."

Robert, I got that picture off of eBay when the canoe was up for auction. I will admit that Peter Mueller informed me that you purchased the canoe. The first time I posted the picture I mentioned were I got it. I'll try and do better in the future.

I don't have a 1902 catalog, but in the 1903 catalog the only Indian Girl pictured has straight thwarts. Robert, you posted the picture of the Canvas Indian, which is different from the Indian Girl and was only made in one size, 15'. I have a canvas Indian and yes it has a shaped thwart.

Does anyone out their have a Rushton non-Inc. canoe with shaped thwarts?

My 17 footer does. I'm pretty sure it's an earlier one. My 16 footer also does but it is an "inc" (decal on the deck etc.).
I am sorry that I have not chimed in with dimensions. I do not have my 17 stored here. I can measure it up during Thanksgiving week if this information is still needed.