Old Town/Carleton? #17278-16

John M. Kimpel

Curious about Wooden Canoes
WCHA Forum;
I met a fellow canoist yesterday that had a beautiful 16' Canoe. He said that it had a brass Old Town tag on it about 50 years ago but he took it off. The canoe was sent to Rollin Thurlow for restoration and he said it was a Carleton. Anyway I told him I would contact you and try to get the build history for him and figure out the Old Town/Carleton connection. If the brass tag was an original, are they still available? His grandfather purchased the canoe new and has always been kept inside. Thanks for your help and the great stuff you do and provide at WCHA.
John Kimpel
Hello John,

I tried both Old Town and Carleton records and it looks like Rollin is correct - that number in the Carleton series is assigned to a 16' Indian Princess with open Mahogany rails, seats, decks and thwarts. It was delivered to Cromwell Indiana? in May of 1923. It's original color is was dark red. Copy of build record is attached. The Old Town boat of that number was a 17' HW (also attached)

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/catalogs/old-town/records/ if you want more details. Please join WCHA or make a tax deductable contribution so that services like this can continue. See http://www.wcha.org/wcha/ to learn more about the WCHA and http://www.wcha.org/join.html to join. If you are already a WCHA member, THANK YOU!

It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match your canoe. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions.


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Thanks for the reponse and information and build record. My friend does have the Carleton since his grandfather was from the Cromwell area. I have forwarded the information to him and encouraged him to join WCHA so he to can enjoy the WCHA site, information, canoe history and the fellowship of fellow canoists. Also, where could I find information regarding the relationship of Carleton Canoes with Old Town Canoes, if there was any? Thanks again and smooth paddleing.
According to Susan Audettes very complete book "The Old Town Canoe Company - Our First Hundred Years". Carleton was a seperate company until acquired by Old Town's Sam Gray in 1910. The following year, (May 17, 1911) the Carleton factory burned. Carleton production was moved to a larger Old Town factory. Rather than absorb Carleton into Old Town, Sam continued the Carleton line offering the consumer more choice. "It could also sell to rival retailers by offering two different lines. In New York City two large department stores offered canoes: Macy's bought Old Town and Gimbels, the Carleton line".

During the 1930's with erratic sales and the effects of the depression, Carleton was consolidated under the Old Town name, although OT continued to issue a separate Carleton catalog for a while.

I'm sure some of the other, more knowledgible forum members will fill in what I may have missed.

Thanks for the canoe history lesson. You have been a great help with my questions. Now I see why it is a separate canoe and not just a model of Old Town. I thought I had purchased the "Old Town Canoe Company, the First Hundred Years", but I cannot seem to locate it. I guess I will have to order one from the WCHA book store. Thanks again, keep up the good work and have a great summer!
One of the main reasons that Old Town acquired Carleton was that Carleton was in possession of timbering rights and a sawmill. When the Carleton factory burned down, it was no big deal as production was simply moved to the Old Town factory.
Great Info

Thanks for more insight on my question. It is rather neat learning about the history that goes into a canoe that was built 85 years ago, especially one that is still owned by the original purchasing family. I do appreciate the help and info that you fellows and ladies provide. Have a great summer and smooth paddling.