Made for Abercrombie & Fitch by Old Towne Canoe Co.


Curious about Wooden Canoes
Hi all
A friend dropped off a canoe at my house, wanting to sell it on craigs list.
I took a look at it, and was surprised at the craftsmanship of the boat. Beautifully made. Made for Abercrombie & Fitch by Old Towne Canoe Co on the brass name plate. I looked for a serial number on the stem as mentioned in the forums, but can't find one. I attached some photographs. Since it's not my boat, I'm looking for an estimated value to sell it as is. It needs some carpentry work, and new canvas. The seats caning could use to be redone as well. I'm considering buying it myself for a project. Seems very solid for such an old boat. And it is a beauty to look at (at least the inside is).
Any idea of restored value?






restoring the boat

Any thoughts on the value of the boat in the condition it is in?
I need to decide if I want to buy it and restore it, or post it on craigs list.
I guess there is a pretty wide range for value, but a ballpark number would help. I'm not sure if I would ask $50, $500, or more.

The other half of my questions is - if I do decide to restore, what exactly am I getting myself into? I'm not a carpenter by any stretch, and I have a very minimal workshop. I wonder if I can make repairs to the boat without specialized tools. Just canvasing the boat looks like a pretty daunting job. At least one of the decks needs to be replaced. It also looks like 1 or 2 ribs might be cracked at the bow. To restore or not to restore, that is the question.
Looks like a typical project to me-- one handled by someone who hasn't done it before. Canvassing is accomplished more than one way, and is easier than you are probably imagining. If you live near a WCHA chapter or a member with a shop, you will get some in-person advice, but otherwise the book most folks are using is "The Wood and Canvas Canoe" by Stelmok and Thurlow. There are YouYube videos you can look at, to see if you think you can do the work.

My personal feeling regarding the replacement of decks is that IF they can be glued back together, that's nice because I think of all the eyes that were on that deck over the decades (like that one!). When you order new replacement-parts from Old Town, they are for the boats that are of more recent manufacture and it may not be the look you want. I don't know though-- things have changed since Jerry Stelmok began building the wood/canvas for Old Town and maybe you could get decks with the older shape. Someone else will probably jump in with a real answer there.

As to value: we pay $200-$500 for a canoe that needs work. It depends on how thrilled we are about the specific canoe. Well, I take that back-- we have been way-thrilled about a couple of canoes and have paid more for those. Would be nice to know the serial number of this one. It's post-1920 because the diamond-head bolts are there, and it appears to be CS grade. There's something going on under whatever is on the ends-- it's common, when people are only interested in keeping a boat afloat, to glass-up the problems on the ends. I'm trying to determine the model of this canoe, and I can say it isn't an Otca or Guide but could be HW (most likely) or Yankee or CR...

I suppose $300 for this canoe is reasonable. If you cannot find a serial number and therefore don't have a build record to work off of, and you decide to list this canoe on craigslist, remember to give the length of the canoe. Maybe someone else can nail the model better than my three thoughts. Cross off Yankee if the canoe isn't 16 feet. The length should be tamped into the stems too.

I really hope you decide to take-on the project, because you will be in touch with a great group of people, even if all you do is ask questions here in forums. People can walk you through the restoration process in this spot, if you provide pictures. We like pictures, especially the "after" ones!

Here is a canoe-canvassing video which was made by someone whose face shows up in these waters...
I did find the serial number after watching the video. I was looking in the wrong place.
It looks like 109677 to me. And 16 after the number, which I understand is the length, which I confirmed with a tape measure.
I attached some photos of the number, both front and back.

Thanks for all the help and suggestions. I'l check out the video, and look into getting the book if I decide to keep it.


I think this is it! This is always fun-- to find the record!

Old Town 109677 is a 16 foot CS (common sense or middle) grade HW (heavy water) model canoe that was finished December 1931- March 1932. It has red Western cedar planking, open spruce gunwales, oak decks, thwarts, and seat frames, and a keel. It originally had sponsons, which were removed at some point (a common thing to happen to sponsons). You may see evidence of screw holes under the gunwales where the sponsons were attached and evidence of carry thwarts at either end of the canoe which were usually placed on sponson models because of the extra weight. This canoe was originally bright green and was shipped to A&F in NYC on March 31, 1932. A copy of the record is attached-- click on it to get a larger image.

This scan and several hundred thousand others were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA) and others. A description of the project to preserve these records is available at if you want more details. I hope that you will join or renew your membership to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See to learn more about the WCHA and to join.

It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match your canoe. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions.



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It is very cool to be able to see the original build record for this boat. The description seems to fit the boat. The decks look like oak. It is almost 80 years old, pretty impressive. Thanks for posting that, if I decide to get into this further I will certainly be joining WCHA.
Being a novice here, I'm not familiar with what Common Sense means. Heavy Water I assume means suitable for rapids and white water.

I'm located in Western Massachusetts, Berkshire County. Any other wood canoe buffs in the area?
In addition to the canvassing video for which Kathy has provided a link above, you might look at a thread in the WoodenBoat magazine forums where Fitz has photos and explanation about canvassing another canoe, as well as showing some other aspects of restoration:

As to the meaning of H.W. -- from the 1935 OT catalog:

"Instead of having a perfectly flat floor the H.W. Model tends toward the shape of the well-known salt water yawl boat below the water line. This shape gives more draft and hence greater steadiness in windy waters. It is a general utility model, somewhat faster under the paddle than the Otca Model, sturdy and handsome in appearance -- the kind of canoe that is always ready for any use.
"Extra fullness at bow and stern enables this model to ride over large waves instead of cutting through them as in the case of a canoe with sharp ends. For cruising, carrying heavy leads, for use on large rivers, lakes, ponds and salt water, this is an excellent canoe. The lines are speedy and graceful and the ends curve with that nicety given by the Indians to their bark canoes. It's a good sailer."

An H.W. canoe would generally not be the first choice for a paddler who primarily canoes on white water -- it is not as agile a boat as a specialized white water canoe should be -- but it can be taken through the occasional rip or rapid.

The "common sense" grade is the OT standard grade -- no mahogany trim, no special steps make the canoe either light weight (like the 50 pounder) or extra durable (the G.S. or guide grade).

Your photos show a canoe that is eminently restorable, and is a reminder of the days when Abercrombie and Fitch was a real outdoors outfitting store where New York City sports went to get the best in outdoor gear, and not merely another purveyor of fashionable clothing. That brass ID plate is a nice little feature, not something you will see coming and going.

You could get in touch with members of the Massachusetts local chapter of the WCHA, the Norumbega chapter, by contacting: Steve Lapey, 9 Doris St., Groveland, MA 01834, 978-374-1104. And the Salmon Falls Canoe, Dylan and Emily Schoelzel, are not too far from you, in Shelburne, MA.
Alrighty then, the enthusiasm of you folks have convinced me that this is a worthy project. I'm in.
The boat is going on the saw horses tonight, and the old canvas is coming off. Then I can see what I am up against for repair. I did spot one rib that was cracked at the bow. so need to see what else is going on under the canvas. Will post photographs of problem areas. Is this the best place to do that, maybe start a new thread?
Any cautions, or words of advice for this first stage of the project? I'll be joining WCHA, and buying the book that was recommended.
Welcome -- we're all glad you're in!

The main advice I would give at this stage is to be careful when removing things, and be slow to decide to discard things. Damaged items may be readily repairable, and within reason, it is a good thing to retain as much as possible of the original fabric of the boat.

For example, your decks are split -- but they look as though they could be readily restored to nearly new condition, once carefully removed. IMO they are worth saving -- the grain is quite nice.

For another example, your outside rails (gunwales) certainly need some work -- one photo shows a pretty good crack near the bow on one side, and all four ends appear to be shortened, either cracked or rotted off. Splicing short lengths of wood on to create new ends and make them the proper length is a fairly easy task. However, repairing the crack properly could be more difficult. There are a couple of ways of approaching that problem -- most likely, you would splice in a longer new section of rail from behind the crack all the way to the bow -- and the replaced old rail section might provide the material for splicing onto the three other rail ends. But you may decide that replacing the whole rail is warranted, especially if there are other problems that don't show in these photos. Or you may decide that you just want the look of new rails.

For a further example, the aluminum bang strips wrapping around the outside of the front and rear stems are probably re-usable. But -- they are probably not original, and may be replacements from when some earlier work was done. The originals were almost certainly brass, which I think looks better, and if it were my canoe, I would replace with new brass.

(For the record, among other canoes I have a 17' H.W., 1928 vintage, also missing it's sponsons, awaiting restoration.)

Another bit of advice I would give is -- get the Stelmok/Thurlow book before doing much more than removing the canvas -- it will let you know and evaluate just what is involved (material, time, skill) in anything you might contemplate doing.

And the final bit of advice I would give is -- don't be bashful about asking for help/advice/instruction here on the forums, but when you do -- pictures!! First, we love to see pictures; second, they help explain any problem that you might have; and third, they show how you have successfully dealt with the problem.

When you are done, you will have a beautiful canoe, the more beautiful for the work you will have done on it.
I removed the canvas yesterday, and took some photos of problem areas.
The outer gunwales are in pretty rough shape, and all look like they should be replaced. There is one hole in the hull, several cracked ribs, both decks are cracked. Someone used some sort of filler to patch low areas on a previous repair.
But really, for 80 years old, not bad shape. I'll be picking up the book and doing some reading before I go any further.










Hi all
I'm unable to shake any time free for this repair project in the foreseeable future, so have decided to sell the canoe. If interested send me an Pm or email me at oboylephoto at
I'm going to post in the classifieds as well.
If the canoe is still available...
1) What's the length?
2) Where are you/it?
3) How much?
Wooden canoe buff in Western Ma

It is very cool to be able to see the original build record for this boat. The description seems to fit the boat. The decks look like oak. It is almost 80 years old, pretty impressive. Thanks for posting that, if I decide to get into this further I will certainly be joining WCHA.
Being a novice here, I'm not familiar with what Common Sense means. Heavy Water I assume means suitable for rapids and white water.

I'm located in Western Massachusetts, Berkshire County. Any other wood canoe buffs in the area?

Looks like the A and F canoe is going to be a great project. I got the wood canoe bug a year ago and now I have 4 to be restored! You can't have to many! I can't wait to see pics as the project progresses. I'm from Hamden county, Western MA