Is It a Chestnut


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I've got a canoe that I bought in 1978 from a family who claimed it had been in the family since around 1900. To me, it looks like the Old Town Otca with the high ends. It is 16'L, 33"W, 11"D. The guy that just restored it says it's a Chestnut, but some people still think it is Old Town. It has these numbers: 18 8111 engraved on the strip of wood on the floor of the bow...sorry, my nomenclature needs polishing up! If anyone wants to see pics, I'll email them to you for better clarification. You can email me at Bob
Would be nice to see pictures of this canoe, if you are able to post them for all to see. You may email to (my computer isn't working) or to Benson-- who is particularly knowledgeable regarding Old Towns-- at To post pictures yourself, just scroll to the box below this one and click on "manage attachments", which gives you a browse box to upload pictures from your computer.

I have found a build record which might be your canoe, but it would be great to confirm by looking at pictures. Several of the old canoe builders had serial numbers that are similar in format to Old Town serial numbers.

If your canoe is 16 feet long, the number at the beginning of your serial number would be "16" and not "18". Check both stems and see if this is the case. Old Town hull number 8111 is a 16 foot AA grade Charles River model, finished between December of 1907 and March of 1908. It has red Western cedar planking, open mahogany gunwales, half ribs, and a keel. It was painted dark green and shipped March 13(? hard to read) 1908... and I can't read the location on my scan.

The Charles River has high, sweeping ends... but it may have Old Town's "traditional" short deck rather than the 20 inch decks with coaming that the Otca had. As I understand it, an early Chestnut would have had heart-shaped decks... but would also have had high, sweeping ends as they looked a lot like a Morris.

So... pictures would be good... but knowing the deck-style would help a lot in diagnosis. Does your canoe have half-ribs and open gunwales? Does the trim appear to be mahogany (AA grade indicates mahogany trim).

I'd attach the scan for this canoe but my computer is belly-up and Denis' computer apparently can't convert the file to something this website likes... so someone else will have to post the scan, which is #1118. Someone else's scan may be easier to read and we'd know where this canoe was shipped.

We'd love to see pictures of this interesting old canoe!

Ebay canoe?

If this is the red canoe on ebay right now, I think it may be the OT Charles River that Kathy found in the records.

Here are pictures and the local Craig's listing for the noted canoe. The owner say's that the local restorer (was glassed at one point) informed him that this is an old Chestnut. I'm not sure how it now became an OT? I asked for but never saw close ups of the decks or stems.

Now that I see the Ebay listing (price came down a bit -:) ) and can see the decks etc. it really does look like an OT.
If anyone is interested I would be willing to go and look at the canoe.
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Hard to see the deck style in those pictures, but it looks very Old Townish to me--- looking from waaaaay over here on the shore, without my binocs. The profile appears more Charles River than Morris-- if old Chestnuts are Morris-clones, there'd be a steeper climb to the peak at each end-- this canoe has more recurve. Also, Dan's Dragonfly canoe ID information states that the early Chestnuts that were the first-grade canoes were all closed gunwale... so an AA grade Chestnut wouldn't have open gunwales. And their second-grade canoe probably wouldn't have half-ribs. Did any Chestnuts have half-ribs?
Tried 8101, because there's a shadowy zeroish thingy in that serial number... this canoe is also a Charles River, but is CS grade-- trimmed in spruce-- no mention of open wales, though... shipped to Macy's in NYC 6/22/09. That was scan #1128-- sorry I can't post scans.

We need a better look at the s/n.

Do we know the wood species of the trim?
My guess is that this is the Old Town canoe with serial number 8111 as shown in the build record below. The shipping destination is not clear as Kathy mentioned but the "R" could be for Rochester. Good luck with the auction,



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Original Question: Is it a Chestnut?

Well, I got kinda busy and hadn't checked back here and see some discussion was going on about my canoe. I'm attaching a picture here and I'll pay closer attention to responses...appreciate the interest and help! First, Serial number correction: it is 16 8111....checked the opposite stem for clearer read on that. Still catching up on my terminology....what is a half rib? I know what a half rack OF ribs is at Applebee's, but I'm sure that doesn't help me much here....I'm on a diet, can't get food off my brain, sorry. I'll put photos up tomorrow, I've got to change their file size. Bob
Looking forward to pictures...

By the way, "half ribs" are just that: smaller ribs that fit between the larger ones. Because they fill the space between the structural ribs, more of a floor is formed on the bottom of the canoe, making a floor rack unnecessary.

Old Town Charles River it is!

Now that I know definitively, and I want to thank everyone for steering me in the right direction, I want to sell this beautiful canoe....can anyone give me a proper range of it's value? The work was done by Pat Smith of Naples, NY...West Hollow Boat Company. The "Glass" was removed, decks are new, front seat recaned, bow and stern ends of gunwales and inwales were spliced with new wood because boat had been stored in shed on ground..rotting tips, new canvas, paint, varnish, etc. NO keel, I asked that it be left off. The build sheet was even more interesting to me because this canoe was completed on March, I wasn't built in 1908, but still....! Any pricing suggestions? Thank you, Bob