Kennebec Sponson...Need Help/Advice


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I just purchased a Kennebec wood/canvas canoe with sponsons this week and am very excited to do some research on it. My family has a summer home in the Les Cheneaux Islands of the UP of Mich. I had admired this canoe my entire life as it hung upside down in the neighbors boat house for the past 40+ years. The past 3 owners of the cottage automatically inherited it with their purchase of the cottage. Local historians have told me it may be from the early 1920's but one thinks it's much older and feels I got my hands on a treasure. Some feel it may have belonged to the Elliot House which is the hotel that was located next to our cottage and was built in the late 1800's. I don't think it's colors (John Deere green and yellow) are original but don't know for sure. One neighbor remembers his uncle, who was the previous owner and his grandfather taking it home to Ohio to redo the canvas. That restoration was nearly 40 years ago.

I am NEW, NEW, NEW to all of this and have been reading up in this forum about serial numbers but all I have found is a model number on the brass plate which is 3365. Would a serial number be elsewhere and where would I look for it? Thanks in advance. I will try to post pics.



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Lex Cheneaux,
First- Welcome to the WCHA! Please be aware that we have a U.P. chapter.
Pictures of the stem and decks would help. The number you give is probably not an Old Town number. Could you please take a photo of that plate and it's location. That too would help id your canoe.
I am co- chapter head along with Kathryn Klos. We can be contacted at 906-249-4409 or 101 Co.Rd. BX, Marquette Mi 49855.
My email address
If you get to Marquette please look us up. We hope to get to the boat show in Cedarville this year.
Thanks again, Denis, for taking so much time on the phone with me. Here are a couple more pictures but I don't think they will help much. One does get you a little closer to the end of the boat. Both ends have a brass fixture which appears to have been put there for flags, however, with it being a lake canoe I'm wondering if they weren't for a sail for running with. Also on the floor, you'll see a backrest. The straps are missing from it and would have come forward to connect on the two eye hooks which are covered up by the styrofoam in that picture. These pictures were all taken in the previous owners storage before I purchased it.

I will take more pictures this weekend when I return to the UP.


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Looks like your canoe is in great shape! The thwart appears to be tiger maple.

You can find some information on Kennebec at on the canoe i.d. page of the Dragonfly Canoe site: scroll to Kennebec on the left.

Checking the archives of this site may give you some general information as well-- go to "search" above and type in "Kennebec" (or whatever you're interested in).

The serial number may be found on the stem, on the floor of the canoe, as well as a metal plate. Your canoe appears to be in such good shape, the numbers should be easy to find... but sometimes wetting the area will make them clearer... a digital camera can be helpful too-- brings the numbers out, and when loaded into the computer, you can enlarge them. The serial number may very well be 3365-- if you find that number on the stem too, I think it's your serial number.

My Kennebec has 5 numbers and dates to 1927. I believe Kennebec was in business from 1910 until the early 1940s... so, yours may date from the early years. At the present time, I think Benson is the only one with access to the Kennebec records-- unlike Old Town's, which are on CD and available for purchase by anyone through the WCHA store.

Kennebec's records are in a ledger-- if you find some old Kennebec serial number posts, you'll see what I mean. Only recently has the museum that holds the records permitted electronic duplication, so if you look at the more recent s/n requests, you'll see what the scans look like. It's a different system from Old Town's, but you'll get similar build information, including the canoe's model, original color, and ship date.

Welcome to the WCHA and to the wonderful world of wooden canoes! I look forward to meeting you in-person!


Ok, I have these wonderful pictures I want to post, however, I'm at the public library in Cedarville on a computer that has no program for me to shrink these little devils down small enough to post. Ugh...

My husband and I searched high and low for a serial number other than the one I've found on the plate and we struck out. I just don't know if I'm missing something or if it's been varnished over.

Just in case Benson Magic Fingers is out there reading this I thought I'd suggest this until I can post pictures Monday: Is is possible that my Kennebec has a four digit serial number? On the oval plate it says "Kennebec Model" across the top curve, 3365 stamped underneath that and then it says "Manufactured by Kennebec Boat and Canoe Company, Watervelle, ME."

After looking at the dragonfly site I see that there was an actual model named Kennebec so maybe I was mistaken thinking that the 3365 was a model number after all? Maybe my model is Kennebec and the serial is 3365??

P.S. My husband now thinks I'm nuts...I'm obsessed.
L. C.
I checked Kathy's Kennebec tonight. The SN is the same on the stems as it is on the plate. The SN on both stems is located at the first cant rib.
Attached is an excerpt from the Kennebec Canoe Company ledger showing the entry for the Kennebec Model canoe with the SN 3365. Notice that the record does not indicate sponsons...

These scans were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA) and others as described at in more detail. If you are not already a member, we hope that you will join or contribute to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See and for more information.


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Very Cool...

Thank you Dan! And thanks again to you Kathryn for helping me on the phone Saturday afternoon. I never did find the numbers on the stem but I'm quite confindent that we've figured this out...please confirm/deny according to my plate picture below. I still have additional questions for anyone to answer:

1. Kathryn thought the year was 1927, however, I'm still not seeing a year anywhere on the scan. I'm wondering if the whole thing isn't coming through for me?

2. Since the build record is not showing sponsons, how likely is it that they were added later or as previously suggested by someone, it was just an oversite by not recording it?

3. I spent some time in the local museums (in Cedarville) over the weekend trying to find out who this "Kiffe" is that it was delivered to. Since two more of the canoes in the ledger above mine were also delivered to them, I figured it was more likely that it was an outfitter rather than an individual. The museum curator and I played on the internet together thinking maybe this could have even been a town. Anyone have any ideas?

I am currently trying to track down one of it's past owner's family members to find out anything else they may know. Told you...I'm obsessed. Is this normal? :) How soon til my first issue of Wooden Canoe comes!!?


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Sorry about the date - the year it was built was 1910. What you have is one of the so-called "Morris Kennebecs" - one of a number of hulls built by B.N. Morris, and finished by and sold as a Kennebec. We are still not certain how this business relationship between Kennebec and Morris worked, but there are a number of these canoes out there, none of which are acknowledge in the Kennebec ledgers as having come from Morris...
Even Cooler..

Awesome! I was really feeling it was older than 1920's. I don't know where to begin. I need to determine whether or not to just start by getting the paint back to original or bite the bullet and recanvas/paint. I will have someone local help determine which is necessary at this point. I've decided that no matter how many books I would read I will never have the experience needed to tackle such an important job...I'm hiring it out.

Another question: How do I go about getting it back to original color? I know I just can't go to the store and ask for Kennebec's 1910 "Med. Green" :)
Dan Miller said:
Kiffe probably refers to Hermann H. Kiffe Sporting Goods in Brooklyn, NY.

Dan, has anyone ever told you, YOU ROCK!?

Such a plethora of information up there in that head of yours...;)
LesCheneaux said:
Dan, has anyone ever told you, YOU ROCK!?

Such a plethora of information up there in that head of yours...;)

No, I've just made good friends with Google...
Inspection of Kennebec-Morris Hybrid

Last weekend, Denis and I had the pleasure of meeting LesCheneaux and her family, friends, island cottage, and canoe.

Pictures are attached. We took our Veazie-Morris for comparison (the green canoe in the pics). The only discernible Morris trait in the Kennebec is the splayed stem. The profile of the Kennebec isn't a Morris profile. The ribs aren't pocketed. It appears Morris provided Kennebec with the hull, and Kennebec finished it to look as a Kennebec canoe would, profile and all.

Very interesting canoe... and a very nice time, overall!



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Morris - Kennebec

This is indeed a Morris/Kennebec, not only the splayed stem,but the
sponsons are Morris. A Kennebec would have Invisable sponsons.
A very nice canoe !!!
Later Dave
Greg's mention of the birdseye reminded me that the build record for this canoe states it has mahogany trim, but in fact the gunwales appeared to be spruce, and the decks/seat frames/thwarts are maple.... some tiger along with the birdseye.

Another interesting feature is the folding seat, which resembles one that appears in the Morris 1893 catalog.

Looking at the section of the Kennebec records posted in this thread, the canoes listed all have cedar stems... as though a group of hulls came from Morris.