Curious about Wooden Canoes
Help!!! I've become the owner of an 18' Old Town H.W. open gunwales. Much work is needed but I have every confidence I can save this old baby. The help I need is serial number info. The serial number has been worked over but looks like 105281 or maybe 106781, or 10105281 or 106731-----I could go on forever. The person that sold us this boat said his dad bought it in a garage sale in Lansing Michigan many years ago. I currently have taken up residence in Ralph Kohns shop and he promises to keep me on track. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
105281 is a 17 foot CS grade HW. I'll keep looking, but wanted to post progress so others won't have to look up the same thing. I have to leave the house soon, but rest assured I or someone else will continue the search.

It can be helpful to take a digital picture of a serial number.

Keep working on that number--- compare both stem-numbers--- and I'll keep trying different possibilities too. OT serial numbers are 5-6 digits, with a space and the canoe's length.

106781 is a 20 foot GS grade guide model
106731 is a 16 foot CS grade HW
105781 is a 16 foot CS grade square stern

These boats were shipped in 1930, so that'll give you an approximate age.

The number was pretty well worked over + only on one stem. The stems have had some work on them, so maybe they aren't original.
Definatly no space followed by length. You have to boats for 106731 try all numbers with 2 replacing 7

Thank you for all your work
That should be 106281 as a 9 foot dingy.

106231 isn't your canoe, but sounds so cool I am posting the build record. It's a 16 foot all-wood sea model with 74" decks and outside stems, sent to Portland ME. (Benson-- is it still there?)

105231 is an 18' GS grade guide model, with open gunwales, shipped to Maine
106787-- 17' CS grade HW
106232-- 17' AA grade Otca
105237-- 16' AA grade all wood sea

Can you get a digital picture and post it here... many eyes may narrow it down more...


  • OT106231.jpg
    444.6 KB · Views: 214
Last edited:
Wetting the area can make numbers stand out... and a clear picture of whatever is there can help a lot, even if the numbers are hard to read with the naked eye.
after remeasuring it appears to be 17' and the best guest on s?n is 105231,
105781 or 105281. I'm trying to send pictures but need to resize
Last edited:
105231 is an 18 foot GS Guide model shipped to Maine
105781 is a 16 foot CS grade square stern shipped to Maine

105281 is a 17 footer, and if the other details match, this may be the one.

105281 is a 17 foot CS (common sense, or middle grade) HW model canoe completed during March and April of 1930. It has red Western cedar planking, open spruce gunwales, a keel and a floor rack and was originally painted dark green. Wood species of decks, thwarts, and seat frames isn't specified but is commonly ash, birch or maple on CS grade HW canoes. The canoe was shipped to Detroit, MI, on April 25, 1930.

The scan of this record is attached below-- 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 http://www.wcha.org/ot_records/ if you want more details. I hope that you and anyone else reading this will join or renew membership in the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See http://www.wcha.org/wcha/ to learn more about the WCHA and http://www.wcha.org/join.php to renew.

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.

I hope we found it!



  • ot105281.jpg
    280.8 KB · Views: 215
Everything else seems to match--floor rack, keel and color..Now all I have to do is find some info on Co. it was shiped to.

Thank Yoy very much for all your work. Will send pictures on progress
I don't see as good as I once did, but the third digit looks more like a 9 to me than a 5, and the fourth looks more like a 7 than a 2.

I may be all wet, but the number looks like 109781 to me.
It would be good to have a picture of the whole canoe. 109781 is apparently the correct length (17'), but is a mahogany trimmed Otca and would have the long Otca decks with coaming... I'll post the information on this canoe, so you can compare:

Old Town 109781 is a 17 foot AA (top) grade Otca model canoe, finished April-December of 1931. It has red Western cedar planking, open mahogany gunwales and mahogany decks, thwarts, and seat frames. It also has a keel, outside stems, and a floor rack. It was originally painted design #34 and had the name "Thebob" in white on the right side of bow and stern (at least I think that's what the notation means). Shipped December 21, 1931, to LeRoy, New York.

I'll attach this build record so you can compare with what you have... this canoe would be considerably different from the HW model, especially with outside stems... this was maybe a tricked-out Christmas present for some lucky person during the Great Depression. The canoe was shipped with paddles.

Note where the canoes were shipped and if that makes any sense when considering where you found it.

I'm attaching images of the Old Town designs from the 1931 catalog from "The Complete Old Town Canoe Company Catalog Collection, 1901- 1993", available on CD from http://www.wcha.org/catalog/ and http://www.dragonflycanoe.com/cdrom.htm on the web.

Design #34 is in the lower right corner-- the red canoe with white stripe. If the canvas on your canoe is original, some archeology may tell you if this is the right record.

NOTE: The attachments won't attach--- some web-problem I assume, but I'll send this now and attach them later.

Message I Got...

This is the message I get when trying to attach things-- if anyone else gets it too, don't worry... it isn't YOU, it's something Roger will fix:

Database error.

The WCHA Forums database has encountered a problem.

Please try the following:

* Load the page again by clicking the Refresh button in your web browser.
* Open the forums.wcha.org home page, then try to open another page.
* Click the Back button to try another link.

The forums.wcha.org forum technical staff have been notified of the error, though you may contact them if the problem persists.

We apologize for any inconvenience.
Not an otca. I'm staying with 105281, everything matches and it was delivered to Crawleys in Detroit which gets it in the neighborhood.
I was getting the same error message last night and had to reduce the size of the picture
Glad 105281 seems to fit.

I'm still getting an error message when trying to upload images... and for the build records, I'm already reducing them from TIFF files to jpg and it's worked in the past... but I'll experiment and see if it's something I can fix at my end.
Well, cutting the image in half appears to work for the image of the OT designs, but I can't get a build record to attach unless I reduce it to 1/4 size! Very strange. And that makes the build record really teeny-tiny. Got a magnifying glass?


  • ot designs half size.jpg
    ot designs half size.jpg
    37.6 KB · Views: 204
  • ot109781 quarter size.jpg
    ot109781 quarter size.jpg
    16.3 KB · Views: 201