My first Old Town Canoe

Shawn Briggs

Curious about Wooden Canoes
I am very excited to start my first canoe restoration. I've done wooden boats before, but the history of these canoes is unmatched. I find it very interesting. The canoe I have, I believe is a 16' Otca pre 1957. It has 20" mahogany decks with coaming. The serial number is a little difficult to read but I am sure it is 127149 16. I plan on restoring it to its original stae. Can you tell me what wood was used on this canoe and possibly any options it may have had. I think this is a fantastic resource. Thankyou to everyone who has helped me thus far. Thankyou Shawn P. Briggs
Welcome, Shawn

Old Town 127149 is a 16 foot CS ("common sense") grade Otca model canoe, finished between March of 1939 and March of 1940. It has open spruce gunwales and although the build record doesn't specify, it was possibly originally trimmed (thwarts, seat frames and decks) in ash. Mahogany was used on AA grade canoes, although later restorations may change things... or this could be the record for a different canoe, and we need to keep looking for the right one. This canoe was fitted with a keel and painted design number 47-- then shipped to The Newman-Stern Company in Cleveland, Ohio on March 14, 1940.

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 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 renew.

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

I'll look up design 47 and post that too--



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Kathy, thankyou so much. I think it is unbelievable that this info has been preserved. Thankyou Shawn Briggs
Hi again, Shawn--

I've attached an image of design 47-- any traces remaining on your canoe?

Click on the links above to see how these records were preserved.

We LOVE pictures-- especially before-and-afters... with several "in the middle"!



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Hi Kathy, your amazing!!!!! There is about a one foot square piece of canvas still attached under the brass stem band and keel. The green paint on the outside is flaking off, revealing the deep red underneath. I will definately use the original paint scheme, its beautiful! Thankyou again and I will post some pics, Shawn Briggs
As I said I'm new to the "canoe restoring" and I just ordered a deck decal from WCHA and I would like to ask if I place it on top the varnish or do I varnish over it. Appreciate any advise. Thanks Shawn Briggs

I put two or three coats varnish and then the decal, and then another coat or two of varnish. Not sure what the factory does.
Dave, thankyou for the advise. It's gonna be awhile till that day comes, but I just like having all my ducks in a row whenever I start something. Thankyou again Shawn
O.K. note made to self,"Self no more Idioms, you'll get picked on." Please no questions about ducks, I really have no answers for them. But I will have more questions about canoes very soon. So thanks for everyones help. Picking up all the ash for the Otca, hope to get some pictures soon posted. Shawn