Need help!


Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
I need help on an ID on my first vintage canoe purchase. The seller is 80 and he said his Dad bought it new in 1920. Just began work on a full restoration. Long decks, straight planking.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


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Can you confirm that the ribs are not tapered at the top?

Do you have any square drive screws in that boat?

Have you checked under the deck to see if there may be a short deck under that long deck? Send us a picture of the support work for the long deck, (the underside of the deck).

Do you think those stems are original? They are very wide and not very common. I've seen big stems like that in Rushtons, but I don't think you have a Rushton.

It does look like a very nice canoe.

Good luck,



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Hi Gil,

I was going to guess Racine too.

That's why I asked about the short deck under that long deck.

Any picture out there Lex?

Just looked at some video footage I took last year of a Racine (Wis) Seneca, and it looks like a pretty good match. Is there a serial number in the rib-- four digits with the length underneath it? I couldn't see the thwart on your canoe very well... Racine canoes have shapely thwarts.


Thanks for the response! I'll post a pic of the short decks tomorrow. I removed one as it was a replacement.

Pictures... seat on a Racine Chippewa and s/n location.


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Thanks Kathy,

I'm storing a (believed) Thompson Ranger that has a S/N stamped a little like that, only the numbers are larger. I don't have any elec pics of it though.

I'm posting some pics for Lex. The first is deck on, second is deck off. Note:

- un-tapered ribs
- wide stem
- square seat frames
- "under deck" is really just a block, not really as deck (I don't think)
- caning is more dense than the seat shown by Kathy. Her seat has 9 x 14 holes; Lex's bow and stern ar 14 x 18 and 14 x 20 holes respectively, if I can count them correctly... in any case, much more dense pattern.


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The digits are larger on the Racine Seneca (long deck) that I have on video. I could upload that to YouTube, "for posterity". The canoe wasn't ours, but we transported it for another member.
more pics

Here are a few more pics, still stripping green paint in hopes of finding serial numbers.
Thanks again for the info!


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Lex asked me to post a few more photos for him because of troubles getting some to upload. Here they are. Hopefully someone will recognize some of the details in this canoe- a nice looking boat well worth restoring.

Lex has lots of sincere interest and genuine enthusiasm- nothing new around here, but always nice to see. He's very excited about learning who may have made this canoe. I still think one of the Racine companies is a good bet, but I'm not very familiar with them. Two interesting (characteristic?) features of this canoe are the wide stem and the narrow kingplank. Thoughts?

I did point Lex to the series of Racine articles published in Wooden Canoe- very thorough material.



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Can you tell if the gunwales are/were riveted on? Our two Racine Wis' both had the gunwales riveted on, as are those of another U.P.chapter members unrestored Racine - Wis. That was typical.
I don't recall seeing any rivets, however I will look closely this afternoon.

A few years ago, there was an excellent discussion of Racine and Thompson. The thread inluded lots of photos of a canoe that has many features that are NOT like yours. This thread also discusses chamfering of rib tops in canoes from Racine and Thompson, but yours doesn't appear to have this feature.

I cannot see any rivets in the photos we've sent back and forth, but they could be hidden under the paint. In person, though, you should easily see them in the gunwales if they are there. (they are shown in the thread cited below)

In any case, here's the thread:

No rivets

16x34x13 dimensions, the deck is 30" to the coamings, 36" at the longest distance, 14x17 webbing

We have discussed possibly a Racine or a Thompson. Does the lack of rivets eliminate Racine? Also does the planking eliminate Thompson? Or were there other variations of these canoes?

I don't about other variations, and there are other builders who have seen many more samples then I but,

to me, those ribs don't look like Thompson, at least any I've seen, narrow, untapered and unchamfered. And the deck and deck trim don't look like the T I have. Or the stren either.

Hi Lex,

Your canoe is an enigma, but it seems reasonable that it might be in the Racine family. Here's some brief info:

- Racine Hardware Mfg. Co., Racine, WI (1879-1893). Failed financially.

- Racine Boat Mfg. Co. (1893-1916). Formed by Fred Martin from Racine Hardware Mfg. Co. Martin left in 1894 because of disagreement over company's direction. Company moved to Muskegon, MI, after a massive fire. Financial problems forced bankruptcy.

- Racine Yacht and Boat Works (1895-1899). Formed by Fred Martin, but failed because of competition from Racine Boat Mfg. Co.

- Racine Boat Co. (1906-1928). Formed by workers moving back to Racine WI. Filed because of changing canoe market.

There still seems to be a lot of confusion about which company made a particular canoe, and some Racines are still mistaken for Thompsons as well as Rushtons. Many features of your canoe point to Racine, but as you can see from above, this company had a very convoluted history. In addition, there may have been even more small and/or short-lived splinter companies (unknown today) that formed off of this already complicated group. Finally, your canoe could have been built during one of the transition periods, which could have held some confusion with respect to the features of the new company's products.

One thing simplifies this a bit... RHMC never made wood-canvas canoes, as far as is known. Neither did RYBW, to my knowledge. This leaves only RBMC and RBC. Here is a summary of what I gleaned from a variety of sources:

RBC (canvas canoes called "RacineWis"):
- stems recurved, much like Old Town
- bow seat suspended from inwales, as in Old Town
- ribs nailed directly to inwales, as in Old Town
- outwales rabbeted to form a lip that covers the planking (as is yours?)
- outwales riveted on, not nailed or screwed
- serial numbers: stamped into rib; written on outside planking in wax pencil
- no small carry thwarts
- no short deck under the long decks

- stems nearly vertical, or at least much less recurved
- bow seat mounted on cleats (as is yours)
- nails through planking and ribs and then into inwales
- outwales do not have a lip to cover planking; planking visible at top
- outwales nailed to ribs and inwales at each rib
- serial numbers: none?
- small carry thwarts at ends, even under decks of long-decked canoes
- actual heart-shaped decks under the long decks

So, how does your canoe fit into this set of features? Outwales appear to be nailed on from outside at every rib (like RBMC). However, they do appear to be rabbeted (like RBC). There are no carry thwarts (like RBC) and there are no short decks under the long decks (like RBC)- only a triangular support block. Your bow seat is not mounted to a cleat, but rather suspended from inwales (like RBC); the blocks between inwale and seat may have been added later. Finally, your canoe has a pretty nice recurve to the stems (like RBC).

So, if I’ve kept all these details straight, not made any mistakes here, your canoe matches RBC in most respects, but the nailing (rather than riveting) of the outwales, is an oddity- more like RBMC. Check to see if the ribs are nailed directly to the inwales, or whether the nails holding ribs to inwales pass through the planking and then the rib.

While you want to know who built the canoe, it’s interesting to have a mystery to solve. Hopefully there will be a solution. Steve Wheeler, a serious Racine historian, wrote the detailed series on the Racine companies and their small boats in Wooden Canoe. Is a book forthcoming? Jack McGreivey is also a great source of info, builds a replica of an RBMC canoe and wrote an excellent article in Wooden Canoe (no. 116) on the details of Racine wood-canvas canoes.

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Some quick comments:

I have several photos of RacineWis canoes and they all show stems of the usual proportions. Be careful using the comparison chart for Racine canoes in issue 116, as a number of points are have since been shown to be inconsistent.

While this canoe has several features that are suggestive of both Racine and Thompson (and Racine was my initial thought), I don't believe it to be either. Haven't yet come up with a better idea yet, though...