Is this an Old town Canoe


Wisconsin Boat Builder
I recently acquired this canoe as a restoration project. I am not very concerned with the providence of the boat but I am curious.

The decks appear to be similar to those found on some Old Town canoes. In addition, many of the construction techniques used appear similar to photos that I have found on this site.

The boat is 17' long and purchased in the south Wisconsin area.

Once I removed the canvas (an easy job since it peeled off like a banana skin) I found hand written text on the planking. I have included a photo of part of this text. I was wondering if anyone could help me decode what it says. The original is no easier to read then the photo. There is also a hand draw picture of (what appears to be) a dog. Plus several names (I think) are written on the plank. The dog and names are not included in the attached photos.

At some point in time a somewhat skilled carpenter make repairs to the hull. Unfortunately, carpentry skills and boat building skills only partially overlap. This is a good example of why iron should not be used in boat fasteners. I am wondering if the text was written by the person who repaired the boat. It does not really look like what you would expect if it were put there at the factory.

It appears as if both in/out whales and the keel were replaced with shorter pieces of wood that have since come unscarfed. I have noticed that the Old town canoes with similar decks also had rail caps. I can see no indication of there having been a cap. But since the whales have been replaced that is not surprising.

Any suggestions on the origins of this boat would be appreciated.


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The former owner sent me some other photos a couple of weeks ago. My original thought was that the decks and inwales were repairs done on an Old Town. Now after looking at the pictures again, the ribs don't look like Old Town, nor do the seat bolts.......I dunno!
You have yourself a nice project. I'm just up the road if you need help.


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I would like to thank you for your responses.

This boat does seem to have aspects of at least two different makes of canoes. Perhaps it is a "FrankenCanoe" built/repaired with parts of two existing boats.

I just spent a few minutes viewing the data available on the Dragonfly website. I had not looked at the Penobscot model before. It does look like a close fit. It would be nice to see additional images of this type of canoe.

I can see why given the absence of concrete identifying information, it can be hard to pin point the maker of a canoe. It seems like half of the company founders listed in Dragonfly worked for Old Town. I am sure that these people then carried their construction/design knowledge (if not the actual hull lines) to their new companies.
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You got the hacked up part right. As far as I can tell there have been two major repairs done to it. The first repair probably involved re-canvasing it.

This project is a good example of forensic canoe restoration.
One thing to keep in mind is that wood/canvas canoes were meant to be recanvassed every few years... and, over the years, they received whatever repairs were necessary to keep them serviceable. It's the folks who were "handy" that kept these boats with us (instead of in the dump)... and now we can actually "restore" (if we choose) instead of simply "fixing 'er up"!

I'll attach some images of the Penobscot (Pecaco) canoe from the 1920 catalog that's part of the "Historic Wood Canoe and Boat Catalog Collection" edited by Dan Miller and Benson Gray, available through or the WCHA store.

Two canoe models are shown in these images... the Notacrack and the Regular.

The Penobscot is an interesting canoe because it's midway between what Alfred Wickett built at Old Town and what he eventually built in St. Louis. And I hope everyone recalls that records for some St. Louis Meramec canoes exist, so if a s/n is found on a possible Meramec, the St. Louis Chapter folks may be able to supply original build info.


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