New member needs Huron advice


New Member
I need some advice from the old salts who have done this before! Just picked up this canvas carcass for $250, and will be spending some time this winter refurbishing it. I did a bit of internet search and it looks like I’ve got a Village Huron, Que. Boat. Bastien Bros? Not sure what year it would have been made. Doesn’t look like it was ever keeled. Original canvas was green. It’s been stored in a garage since 1971. The wood is extremely dry. Would you mind commenting on my plans below. Tell me if it’s a bad idea, etc. I don’t really need to do a full authentic restoration. I just want something I can enjoy paddling, and maybe use on my trapline.
Planning on ripping some white cedar boards down to match existing plank thickness. Replace two small sections of board on the bottom of the hull. I bought ¾” copper canoe nails, to match the existing ones that were originally used. How do you treat the exposed nail tip on the inside of the rib? Peen it down, or nip it off? Add epoxy to attach to rib, or just nail?
The rotted stern – about 3 inches of the original spruce stem is rotted away. Cut back to sound wood, then just add a new piece with scarf joint and West epoxy ?. Or better to steam bend and replace the entire stem piece?
Rotted top planks – replace the entire plank? Or just cut back to sound wood at the last rib and replace a smaller section?
Tips of rotted ribs – cut cut them flush in sound wood, or scarf them and epoxy new pieces on for the missing ½-3/4” of rib tip?
Gunwhale strips – look like they are both spruce, with caps of ash. The inner strip is pretty good, asides from rot at the tips. Would you replace the entire strip, or just scarf and epoxy in the missing pieces? Completely remove the spruce inner and replace it with ash? Would you replace outer with ash or use spruce again? Local lumber supplier has “5/4 white ash gunnel stock” Does this have to be steam-bent to apply, or is it flexible enough follow the gunwhale contour as you apply screws.
Inner hull – furniture stripper to bare wood – light sand – vacume – maybe bleach wood – tack cloth – two coats boiled linseed oil mixed with varsol – wait 2 weeks - two coats of white shellac – 3 coats spar varnish . Any thoughts on coating entire inside in epoxy resin, rather than spar?
Outer hull – tap in all existing nails. Replace any loose ones (reuse old hole or nail beside?) Sand – should I do the linseed oil coats before epoxy and glass? Planning on then glassing outer hull in 6OZ 60” cloth with 105 west epoxy and 207 hardener. Then 3 coats of spar varnish. Have a book on order for redoing canvass, but it looks intimidating when reading about the procedure online.
If I decide to glass and epoxy – would you advise filling in the spaces between the planks ? Could use west epoxy, thickened with filler. Could do this from the inside, after I’ve glassed the outside of the boat.
Keel advice – would you add? What thickness and material?
Thanks for any feedback that you can provide.


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I recommend the canoe restorers Bible - The Wood and Canvas Canoe, by Stelmok and Thurlow. It will help you out a great deal.

1. The tacks are clinched over using a clinching iron. You hold the iron against the rib and drive the tack through the planking into the rib. The tack hits the iron and bends over securing the planking to the rib.

2. There are many photos on here showing stem splices. You can go that route or build a form and steam bend or laminate new stems.

3. Replacing planking is pretty easily and quickly done. Cut out the rotted and damaged sections and put in a new piece with your tacks and iron.

4. Rib ends - scarfing and adding a new piece works great. There are some photos on this forum showing various jigs to assist in cutting the scarf.

5. Ash is fine for gunwales, but heavy. You may find nice clear spruce at your home center. Replacing inwales takes time, but can be done if you don't have luck scarfing them.

6. Your hull treatment sounds fine. Stick with varnish. I would not coat the hull interior with epoxy.

7. Lightly sand the outer hull. I would really consider canvas, canoe filler, paint for the hull. Canvassing is the easiest part of this project. You can do it in a couple of hours and it is better for the life of the boat. You may even end up with a lighter canoe. There is all kinds of help here, and a member or two may live near you and could assist.

The other thing about epoxy and glass is that it is not easily undone. Whereas canvas is easily replaced periodically. It makes the canoe very renewable.

Don't fill the gaps between planks. They will take up some with moisture and humidity.

I would leave the keel off, it is a preference thing.

Good luck. Keep us posted.

Yep, what Fitz said.

I've done a few Hurons. In fact I'm about to canvas a 16 footer.

I love those boats. My favorite solo canoe is a 14'6'' Huron that is the best ride one would want on a sunny day. They are not often the prettiest boat but they are a dream to paddle.

I'd totally scrap the glass/epoxy idea. You will miss out on the best part of what a cedar/canvas canoe is all about. They have a unique flex, sound and smell as they move along. They feel as though they are part of the water rather than "parting" the water as glass boats do. It's an experience that you cannot get anywhere else. Except in a Bark or skin on frame canoe. Fiberglass and epoxy will just kill that.

The canvasing is easier to do than it appears and is actually much easier to do than glass/epoxy. It's much less toxic as well which is a big plus in my books.

I too leave the keels off my Hurons. They paddle just fine without one and it's one less place for water to enter.

Keep us posted and be sure to ask any questions you might have. I think there's a couple thousand years of accumulated experience here that you can tap into.