Kennebec Canoe serial #

Bill Thurlow

Curious about Wooden Canoes
I just purchased a Kennebec canoe, 17' serial appears to be 50118, any help would be great. Also, this canoe was sold as a B.N. Morris, it does have a Morris deck and decal, any ideas? Everything else about it says Kennebec.
Congratulations, the Kennebec records show that serial number 50118 was assigned to a 16-foot-long canoe so that isn’t a good match. My guess is that you may have number 50148 based on the picture below that you emailed to the webmaster account. This is a 17-foot-long Morris model type B as shown on page 156 of volume three in the Kennebec ledgers. It had mahogany gunwales and was planked by Roy on April 12th, 1924. The canvas covering was applied by Tuttle on May 17th, 1924. The first filler coat was applied by Leonard on the same day. Tuttle applied the second filler coat on March 21st, 1925. The rest of that line is blank on the facing page, so it is not clear when or where it was shipped. The scans of these build records are attached below. These original Kennebec records are reproduced through the courtesy of the Maine State Museum.

The microfilms and scans of these records were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA). I hope that you will donate, join, or renew your membership to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See to learn more about the WCHA and to donate or join.

It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match your canoe. My understanding is that Kennebec made Morris canoes under contract with Morris after his factory in Veazie, Maine burned in December, 1919. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions. Good luck with the restoration,




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This canoe was sold as a B.N. Morris, has a Morris decal on the deck, but everything else says it's a Kennebec. Sent pictures to Rollin Thurlow and he thinks it's a Kennebec.
It is a canoe that was built by Kennebec at Waterville, Maine in the style of a Morris under a contract with Morris. The advertisement below is for these Kennebec/Morris canoes from 1926. See pages 177, 188, and 216 at for more details. This is similar to the early Old Town Molitor models that were built in the style of a Morris but it is not known if there was any contract with Morris for those.


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"The peer of them all!"

Methinks this copywriter was weak on marketing vocabulary. Why would I be motivated to buy a Morris that is merely equal to all the rest? I think he meant to say "peerless".

So Kennebec made Morris canoes on Morris forms (?) after the Morris factory burned down.
Methinks this copywriter was weak on marketing vocabulary. ... So Kennebec made Morris canoes on Morris forms (?) after the Morris factory burned down.

This is clearly not the best canoe advertisement ever written. It is possible that some Morris forms were not lost in the fire. The factory burned with $90,100 of insurance but Morris accepted a settlement offer of only $50,000 which may indicate that a few valuable things survived. It seems more likely that Kennebec modified some existing forms or simply made new forms from the lines of old Morris canoes.

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As been said it is not clear which forms Kennebec built their Morris-series canoes in 1924-1925.

We do know they listed 291 of these canoes in a serial number range different from their other canoes (50,000-50,289 + 1 unnumbered). They were built in three lengths, so that would be considerable work to build three molds for a short run of canoes. If this is the case, perhaps they expected to build more than these.

On the other hand the simplest answer is usually the best, and that is that some of the original Morris forms survived the fire. Modification of Kennebec forms is also possible - it was done by both Old Town and Chestnut, at the least.

I do note that the OPs canoe has a straight stem, rather than the splayed stem typical of Morris. To further confuse things, Kennebec was known to build canoes with splayed stems that weren't related to Morris.

Fun stuff!
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I'm not so sure that the "copywriter was weak on marketing vocabulary." The word "peer" has multiple meanings, including nobility. In today's American usage, peer usually refers to someone of the same rank or status, but perhaps back in 1926 this writer was using the word to mean that Morris canoes are the aristocrats among canoes, those with the most outstanding qualities.