No Seats in Sailing Canoe?

Max Peterson

LOVES Wooden Canoes
Did Old Town make a canoe in the 1940's for sailing that had no seats? One sold at an auction yesterday (I didn't buy it, was outbid) that looked like an Old Town and what looked like an Old Town number, but there were only stern and center thwarts and a forward one which was a mast partner. I'm not at all sure that any of these were original, but there were no extra holes in the inwales where there should be double sets for seat bolts. I wish I had paid more attention to it, taken some pictures, and copied down the serial number. It was 16' with diamond head bolts. I did come home with the mast, boom, spar, and cotton sail, as well as the leeboards. The new owner wasn't interested in them. The sail rig is right out of the Old Town catalogs, but many makers used these I think.
 
You could certainly order a canoe from Old Town with no seats. Lots were sold to scout groups and scout camps without seats. I recently restored an 11' 50 Pound model that was delivered as per order without seats- the canoe was actually built WITH seats, but then the seats were removed and gunwales left with sawn-off diamond-head bolts in place to fill the holes. See attached photos.
 

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As I remember, some of the old catalogs used to list a 16' Guide available in a special Boy Scout configuration which had thwarts instead of seats and came painted (get this) aluminum!

Back when I got my canoeing merit badge in the early 1960's we were never allowed to sit on the seats of any canoe, so they might as well have just had thwarts instead.
 
No Seats

I was just wondering whether Old Town offered "Thwarts Only" specifically for any of the sailing canoes. I assume, from your remarks, that the sailing rig must have been a customer accessory added and installed by the owner. Does that sound correct? The mast partner did look like a home-made piece but the mast step seemed to be from Old Town. This is only a matter of curiosity for me. I don't have the reference sources or catalogs to check for myself.

Michael and Todd, it is great to be able to draw so freely upon your expertise and that of others like you! Thank you.

I too fondly remember those Boy Scout camp days, a bit before your time I afraid, when sitting on seats of a canoe was forbidden. I still prefer to paddle kneeling most of the time. The canoes at the camp I attended, and the ones we owned at home were mostly aluminum with one exception, an 18' W&C that was kept waterlogged all season long. It was rather nice to paddle as I recall, but water soaked, weighed what seemed like a ton for even two boys to carry.
 
Max Peterson said:
I was just wondering whether Old Town offered "Thwarts Only" specifically for any of the sailing canoes. I assume, from your remarks, that the sailing rig must have been a customer accessory added and installed by the owner. Does that sound correct?

Given the time of year, it is a good time to remember the immortal words of Arlo Guthrie: "You can get anything you want..." In other words, Old Town (as well as any of the other canoe manufacturers) would entertain special customer requests. If a customer contacted them and wanted a canoe with thwarts only, set up for sailing, Old Town would do so. If they did, it would be noted on the build record. On a "standard" canoe set up for sailing, OT would note on the record that it had a mast seat and mast step. These would have been factory installed.

It is also true that lots of folks modified their canoes well after they left the factory (we still do!). Sailing canoe parts could be ordered from OT for self-installation, or be home-made. If there is no evidence the seats were removed, then some possibilities are that it was built with thwarts (and we know they did this on occasion), or that the gunwales were replaced. It could also be that the seat holes were plugged and the plugs can't seen under old paint or varnish.

So, lots of possible explanations...
 
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