mystery canoe--help


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I've been put in charge of dispensing with a wooden canoe. It was my brother-in-law's grandfather's.

I have photos and discovered a brass tag on the bottom near one end that has the numbers 180 printed over the number 28.

Someone suggested that it was a Shell Lake canoe, but my research indicates they have a different serial numbering system.

The canoe does not have canvas attached. It appears to be in very good condition. Anyone wish to assist in identifying this before I post it?

If you post pictures, folks here will have a better idea what you're looking at. We like pictures!
mystery canoe photo

Maybe this will help with those great minds out there.


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Wondering if plank seats on a Shell Lake indicate it was built during WWII, as it does with Old Town (no cane available in wartime)...
Trust Dan

I'd trust Dan's assessment. but Also, if there is a threaded rod through the decks that hold the inwales together, then you got the Shell Lake. Washburn county hitorical society can look up the ser number for you.

If you have a metal strap under the decks holding the inwales then it's Thompson. Probably.
Definitely screams "Shell Lake". Not sure how you reconcile the numbers on the tag not matching the model number, which should be 116, 117 or 118 depending on length, as is typically seen.
Hey Dan,

Maybe the tag is a livory tag and not a manufacturer tag?

FWLIW, niether of my 2 Shell lakes have a S/N tag/plate or numbers stamped into the wood. One does still have the name plate on the deck.

And a bit off track, anybody know what Gov org used or id'ed their canoes PARKS? I've run across several Shell lakes with this marking and maybe a Thompson but I'm not sure about that.

no more mystery

Thanks to all.

The boat does have a threaded rod between inwhales.
And someone reported the numbers on the tag wrong. I personally checked and they do say 118 over 20.

So...Shell Lake 20 footer.

I'm curious about the WWII theory.

thanks all. We'll post it for sale.
As Dave mentioned, the Washburn County, WI, historical society has records for the Shell Lake Company and may be able to give you the build information. Would be interesting to know if it's a WWII-built canoe. Rod Ripley is the name of the person to contact. Please share any info you find out-- we're learning along with you!


Washburn CHS did not recognize Rod Ripley as someone in their employ. There is a Rod Ripley who is a surveyor in the county.
Do you have any contact info on him?
check this link

Anreas of Thompsonboatboy first mentioned, I believe that he saw the record book for Shell Lake Canoes sitting out on a table at the museum. I googled the museum and sent a couple regular letters. the above cite shows the page my canoe is found on. Also I scanned the letter from Mr. Ripley. I think he is a volunteer but not sure. At any rate, I was persistent and it paid off. they were very nice and I got a bit of history on my canoe.


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Shell Lake

Hi Janbi,
Browsing threads and noticed your Shell lake. I have a 17ftr. that I am restoring. All the trim wood is mahogany. I think minw is a quality boat, and will be water ready this spring. I had to replace the exposed stems on both ends w/laminations. Worked out ptetty good. Boat has a similarity to my penn yan. The seats are very unique, and much nicer than OT's. The only ident on my boat is a 17 stamped on inside keel. No idea as to age.
Anyone any ideas?:)