Old Town (?) #17751-17


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I'd love any information about an old family canoe I recently discovered. It has no brand marking, but from reading other posts and looking at pictures, I'm pretty sure it's an Old Town. The serial number is 17751-17. Thanks!
Hi Carol, and welcome.

You may want to re-check the serial number or length number of your canoe. Old Town 17751 is an 18 foot CS (common sense) grade Otca model canoe. It has open spruce gunwales and ash decks/seats/thwarts and was fitted with a keel. Painted New Haven green, it was shipped to Minneapolis, MN on what appears to be May 31, 1911.

There's enough information about the boat on the build record for you to determine if it fits your canoe. Otcas of this period had a longer deck with coaming and not the "usual" Old Town deck. Does your old canoe have open gunwales? Is the trim ash or mahogany or something else? Feel free to post pictures, if you need help... and check the serial number at each end-- sometimes one end is clearer than the other.

If this isn't your canoe, we need to keep looking!

The scan for this canoe is attached below. Scans of approximately 210,000 records were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA) and others. Additional information about the project to preserve these records is available at http://www.wcha.org/ot_records/ if you want more details.

Please join WCHA or make a tax deductible contribution so that services like this can continue. See http://www.wcha.org/wcha/ to learn more about the WCHA, http://www.wcha.org/wcha_video.php to watch a 10 minute video about WCHA and our programs and http://www.wcha.org/join.php to join. If you are already a WCHA member, THANK YOU!



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Could your canoe be a Carleton? The build record for Carleton 17751 shows a 17 foot canoe in "regular" grade (like CS in Old Town) and the model is "as CR" which I'll have to look up... "CR" in Old Town lingo is "Charles River", and maybe that's what they mean.

This Carleton canoe has red Western cedar planking, open spruce gunwales, and birch decks/seats/thwarts. It was painted dark green and shipped to the Forest Lake Company in Ware [I think] MA on June 19, 1923.

Check out "Carleton" on the dragonfly site to see if this might be your canoe.


I hope you'll be able to say, "bingo!"... but you can also post pictures.



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Thanks, Kathy! Yes, that Carleton looks very promising. It does have the diamond head bolts, it is 17', and the wood seems right. The Massachusetts delivery makes more sense as well. Here are a few detail photos. See what you think.



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What year did Old Town buy Carleton, do you know?

Just answered my own question! The Carleton story is discussed in the thread following John Kimpel's post from June 2007.
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Yes, you have a Carleton--- the heart-shaped deck and carry thwart are a give-away! Nice canoe... and even nicer, because it's been in your family!

You may want to read Sue Audette's book on the Old Town Company... it's available on this website and on eBay and at the library, etc. A very thorough history that should give you even greater appreciation of your canoe.

Thanks again, Kathy. I thought you'd like to know that my 99-year old aunt says she remembers the canoe well. Her memories are (understandably!) a bit fuzzy, but told about taking the canoe to the White Mountains and smashing it on some rocks. That would account for the cracked ribs!

Working with the elderly, I've come to understand the importance of letting them get their stories out... and having old canoes, I understand the importance of getting down the canoe's history and keeping it with the boat. Unlike mere humans, an old canoe can be restored to "like new" (maybe better-than-new, with modern paints, etc.), and begin life again, creating new memories for another generation of paddlers.

Part of what I love about old canoes is that they are filled with memories-- mostly pleasant ones. Paddling a canoe that was once enjoyed by a family member offers a poetic connection to that person's life.

It must be a joy for your aunt, knowing you appreciate the old canoe.

Kathryn Klos said:
the model is "as CR" which I'll have to look up... "CR" in Old Town lingo is "Charles River",

This usually means that they were in a rush to fill an order for a Charles River model from Old Town but didn't have one ready to ship. Their solution was to take a Carleton canoe and ship it as an Old Town but leave a record in case the customer complained or brought it in for repairs later.