Is this a Chestnut canoe?

dave westworth

Curious about Wooden Canoes
About 10 years ago I bought an old wood and canvas canoe. The person who sold it to me had recently restored it and said it was a 1947 Chestnut Canoe. I located a serial number (914 or 814) but I understand that no records remain for Chestnuts. The canoe is 16 ft long, 32 1/2" wide beam, and 13" deep. The ribs are 1 1/2" and planks 3 3/4". Any ideas as to whether this is correct or not and if not, what else it could be?


  • canoe bottom.jpg
    canoe bottom.jpg
    799.3 KB · Views: 1,977
  • canoe full view.jpg
    canoe full view.jpg
    819.9 KB · Views: 2,700
  • canoe inside.jpg
    canoe inside.jpg
    821.1 KB · Views: 1,903
  • canoe serial number.jpg
    canoe serial number.jpg
    801.8 KB · Views: 1,812

ken mueller

Canton, Ohio
The shoe keel, decks, and deck hardware sure look like the ones on my Chestnut (pal). Square head screws in the gunwales also indicate a Canadian made canoe. Also on my canoe, the very first cant rib is very wide compared to the others (cant ribs).

dave westworth

Curious about Wooden Canoes
Thanks Ken and Dave,
I was pretty certain it was a Canadian canoe because it does have the square head screws and the deck shape also matches that described for a Chestnut. The first rib on mine is also much larger than the rest at 4 1/2". I don't know if matters but the seats are made of slats. Does that offer up any more information?
A 16' Prospector would be wider and deeper, and would have 2-1/4" tapered ribs and slat seats.

The dimensions you give, combined with narrow ribs suggest your canoe is a Pal (another Mason favorite). Only problem is the Pal usually had caned seats, but they may have been replaced.

On this site , the Pal appears in the 1957 Chestnut catalog, but is not in the 1950 one, so 1947 seems iffy.

You may find more information at Dan Miller's Canoe Identification Guide at or in the Canadian companies CD-ROM available at .

Hope this helps,



Wooden Canoes are in the Blood
In retrospect I have to agree with Martin. The Prospectors I've worked on were 14" deep but I did a 3rd. grade model with red cedar planks,the same seats and 1.5" ribs. The thinner, wide first cant ribs are standard in Chestnut and Peterborough.

dave westworth

Curious about Wooden Canoes
Even with all the help and references, I still seem to be having some trouble identifying this old canoe. It seems pretty certain that it's a Chestnut but I'd like to keep trying to get it to a model and if possible an approximate year. It's the measurements that I can't fit to any models. Maybe I'm taking the measurements incorrectly. What is the proper way to measure the width and depth?

Dick Persson

Canoe builder & restorer

Your canoe is likely a Chestnut but it could also have been built by the Canadian Canoe Co. If the thwarts and slat seats are original I would suspect your canoe was built sometime in the 1960's.

Width is measured to the hull exterior's widest point (not including the outside gunnels). As your canoe seems to have a tumblehome the widest point is about 5 to 6 inches below the gunnels. Depth is measured at the centre of the canoe from the top level of the gunnels to the bottom hull exterior, which includes the thickness of planking and canvas, but not the keel.

Dick Persson
Headwater Wooden Boat Shop
Last edited:

Dan Miller

cranky canoeist
Staff member
Assuming it is a pleasure model, Chestnut offered the Deer (the 16' pleasure model with narrow ribs) with slat seats, in 1966. That would be the only year it was specified thus in the catalogs, apparently.


New Member
you have a 17' Chestnut Prospector "Garry" Model, 14.5" deep, my friend - the workhorse of northern Canada..........have been restoring them for years........oh, don't bother trying to find the age with the serial number, its a wild goose chase, looks to be 50's to 60's. can't quite see the ribs but if they have a 45 degree bevel on one side its a grade "A" construction. if not, grade "B"......!! (have looked again at pics and if you can't squeak 14.5 deep out of it, then its a guide special - tho unmistakably a Chestnut)
Last edited: