Newbie find a Canoe


Curious about Wooden Canoes
Hello All, I am new to well....all of this. However I found an Old Wooden Canoe and suddenly I fell in love....Why? I dont know exactly, I guess I am a sucker for fine craftsmanship....I saw the owner of this Canoe throwing it $30 later I brought her home. I gues shes in bad shape, but I dont think she deserved to be burned in a fire. The Brass tag reads Carleton Canoe Co... Can anyone tell me a bit about this? Is this canoe missing the bottom internal ribs that run longways or were they never there? SHe is about 17.5ft long and 35 inches at her widest. The serial number is either 66868 ...OR 89899? LOL every single number can be read the other way! But I think the first number to be correct.... What have I found here people....I just love this old thing and want to go paddling....thats all I know. Maybe I will get a composite canoe to paddle whilst I have this one torn apart to restore it? Any help would be greatly appreciated.


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Let me be the first-

Well, I think you just won the lottery. An Outstanding find. YOu will have great fun restoring it. WCHA is a great org and many people willing to help with questions as they arise. Brouse the site, get some books, create a plan welcome
Wow really? Thank you very much for your reply Dave. I did a little research but not much...I am still feeling her out. I have had this old Canoe in my yard for about a year and a half before I even really started looking at her with love in my eyes.... I re-read my post and it seems funny that I paid someone for something they were throwing away huh? Well, put it this neighbor is a religious man and he asked me if I wouldnt mind making a donation to the church for the Canoe....I said "Course Not" and gave him what was in my pocket at the time and brought it home. I had to stop a few friends from cutting her up with a chainsaw....they were trying to tell me that I didnt need an old rotten Canoe sitting in my yard and did NOT recognize the fine craftsmanship that I did.....I Said "NO WAY MAN" that Canoe is a work of art....there will be no chainsaw coming in contact with my Canoe! I am glad I stopped the foolishness. I am quickly learning about this Canoe....I hope to float her someday. It seems it had been hanging around a shop or home for some time due to the hangers screwed into the keel. The more I look the more I like on this old boat..... Like how did they make that intricate design out of wicker to make the seat base?! Unreal....I wish they were intact I cant imagine how to duplicate that weave. Anyway, I truly appreciate your reply and I will try to post a few more photos of her. I am bitten by the Canoe bug I think... :) and I think I like it
Appears to be a very nice Carleton in good shape... glad you were in the right place at the right time to save her!

My Carleton records only go up to 19500, so we have to figure out what your serial number might be. If you take a photo and post here, maybe we can figure it out together (many eyes being better than two!).

Wow -- you hit the lottery indeed. Everyone who reads your post and sees your pictures is going to be jealous. It is great that someone with the right instincts happened upon this boat before the chainsaw/funeral pyre crowd had their way. Not only did you get a basically free canoe, but you get brownie points for a charitable contribution and for preventing a canoe-acide.

From the photos, you have a canoe that will quite readily be restored, probably with a minimum of trouble. Its hard to evaluate all the wood from photos, but it looks in pretty good shape. One of the stems seems to need a little work, and the old varnish should be stripped and re-done. The canvas, of course, needs replacement, and then you will have the opportunity to paint it in the color(s) and design you wish. Poke around these forums -- you will see photos of all kinds of restored canoes -- with one-color elegance through baroque exuberance.

Again, from the photos, it is not clear that this canoe had floorboards (duckboards) -- boards running the length of the canoe. Such are not structural -- some people like them because the protect the wood and varnish of the interior from feet and baggage, and will help keep baggage (or picnic lunches, etc.) if (when) water gets in the canoe. Others think they are bothersome, burdensome appendages. If you want them, they are easy enough to make, even if your canoe never had them. As with finishing the canoe -- ya pays yer money, ya makes yer choice.

There are a couple of things to do just to start. First go to where you will find some basic information about Carlton Canoe and the relationship to Old Town Canoe.

Next, you should do some reading -- Before making any decision about how to repair or restore your canoe, you would do well also to get, or at least look at, "The Wood and Canvas Canoe: A Complete Guide to its History, Construction, Restoration, and Maintenance" by Rollin Thurlow and Jerry Stelmok, and/or "Building the Maine Guide Canoe" by Jerry Stelmok, and "The Old Town Canoe Company" by Susan Audette and David Baker.

The first is often called the "bible" of canoe repair, restoration, and maintenance; the second is an excellent study of the wooden/canvas canoe, and the third is a great history of the company and its canoes. These are available from the WCHA store, are often on eBay, or from Amazon. Sue Audette also sells her book directly ( ).

And as you are learning, the WCHA and these forums are a great resource -- don't be bashful about asking questions -- someone here will likely have the answer -- maybe even two or three different answers.

And very important, as you proceed with restoration -- photos. We all love photos, just because we all love wooden canoes, but also because most of us have things to learn, and photos of what other people do and how they approach a task are a great sources of information.

You clearly have been bitten by the bug -- the only thing you have to watch out for is to keep the resulting disease under control.
Wow...This makes me so happy

Thank you all for your replies, and on the advice on what to do next. I will certainly follow thru. I'm glad I did stop the nonsense before it happened...there is no mistaking the craftsmanship that went into this I wasnt about to let it go to waste. Also, I love to photo document projects, so stay tuned I will photo the hell out of it. Again, much obliged....I cant wait to paddle this canoe around in the Schulkill river....or other places? I simply want to paddle her around instead of stare at her. I will post some photos of that serial number again. All who have looked at it say the same thing....we can read the numbers in both directions! LOL....never had this issue before. I will keep you nice people posted on my progress. Thanks again.