Old Town Charles River ser #2959 17 info


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I have been told an old wooden canoe I found was most likely an Old Town Charles River model from @ 1904 with ser# 2959 17...and further possible info anyone may have on this canoe? I have attached some pix if it to assist. THANX!!!


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Unfortunately the early build records down in this range are incomplete. In checking, the records skip from #2952 to #2977. - Al Sienkiewicz
What was the year of build?

If you dont mind me asking, what was the year ( maybe month or whatever else you might have also) of build in the records you did find ( above and below mine? I woud be VERY interested in knowing that! Thank you SO much for that info, if that was all you could locate.
The Old Town canoe with serial number 2952 shipped on February 22nd, 1906 and the one with number 2977 shipped on May 10th, 1906. Scans of these build records can be found by following the links at the attached thumbnail images below.

These scans were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA) and others. A description of the project to preserve these records is available at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/records/ if you want more details. I hope that you will join or renew your membership to the WCHA 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.

It is also possible that your canoe could have been built by another manufacturer. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions.



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Couple thoughts -
1- I'm not sure those photos look like a CR profile
2- The extended rails look like this boat had OS stems - the build records don't mention OS stems.
What is OS? I have no idea if it is a Charles River, It's what i was TOLD. If you believe it's a differnt brand or model, I would love to know what you think! ANY and ALL help is SO greatly apprecited!!! My sincere thanx to the both of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
OS stems are "Outside Stems" strips of wood bent around the outside profile of the boat. The rails or gunwales extending past the profile might indicate that there were originally OS Stems.

Regarding the profile, I was looking at the sweep of the bow & stern. Your boat does not seem to have the same amount of upsweep as the 1923 Charles River in the attached photo. Of course, models did change over the years, maybe someone else more familiar with the early years will jump in.

I misread Benson's post and thought he was giving you the build record for the boat you requested, but he was just giving you the closest numbers to yours. As Al mentioned, the early records are incomplete.

In any event, you have a very nice boat - keep plugging at it and keep participating in these forums, you will find a ton of expertise here.


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The picture at http://forums.wcha.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=2272&d=1163120312 shows an outside stem being replaced on a Morris. However, very early Old Town canoes had the outside rails extend beyond the inside stem in this style as show at the bottom of the page at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/models.html and below in the Charles River model page from the 1905 catalog. If your canoe originally did not have outside stems then the end of the canoe would be only slightly wider than the stem band. This is difficult to explain but easy to see if you attach a detailed picture of the leading and trailing edges of the canoe.

The deck shape is also consistent with an early Old Town but the serial number format is not. They almost always put the length on the end of the stem closest to the middle of the canoe.

Is there any indication of a deck decal? It would look like the image at http://forums.wcha.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=391&d=1115179683 or the second image below.



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I'm not exactly sure what you mean, but I'll attach several pix in case these are what you are talking about?


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My guess is that your canoe did not originally have outside stems based on the images that you have attached. The rail and deck styles are consistent with some that Old Town used in the early 1900s but that does not guarantee that you have an Old Town from that time. It does look like a nice old canoe though. Let us know if you find anything else to help establish the history and origin.


The build records that you posted included the line for 'tips'. The first record was blank and the second looked like 'no'.

Do you know what 'tips' referred to?

smallboatshop said:
Do you know what 'tips' referred to?

No, I had not noticed this line before and I am not sure what 'tips' are in this context. The first few hundred records have many 'yes' entries on this line but there are also some that say 'no' or are just blank. The frequency of the 'yes' entires on the 'tips' line decreases over time. This line was removed from the cards completely in early 1907 when the serial numbers had reached the upper 6000s. There does not appear to be any mention of this term in the early catalogs either.

My guess is that this may have indicated canoes that had the rail tips extended past the stem. I own a canoe from this era without the extended tips and the 'tips' line is blank on the build record.

Does anyone else have any other information or theories to share?

Your stems are interesting- do they have chamfered edges as it appears in the photo? And the fact that the stem ends ON the rib is unusual. I just made a quick survey of Old Towns from the early teens through the 40s and all stems end BETWEEN ribs. This and chamfered stem edges may point to a maker other than Old Town.

And about the possibility of outside stems- if the canoe hasn't been worked on too many times, you should be able to find screw holes where outside stems were attached (if they were). These screw holes should be larger in diameter than those from attachment of stem bands because larger screws would have been used to hold the outside stems in place. It is possible that a canoe with narrow-faced inside stems also had outside stems. Some canoe builders made outside stems that were oval in cross section, with the inner and the outer faces about the same width. Thus, the narrow outer face of the inside stem would mate with the narrow inner face of the outside stem... uhhh... maybe now even I am confused...

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If you think it may NOT be an Old Town, what other manfg. could it be? Who else used serial number orders like this one? same shape/ build etc...? I am SOOOOOOO lost here! LOL.I can provide any pic you might need, but haven't hardly a clue about alot of what ya'll are talking about when you use some of those techinal terms...LOL. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE FOR ALL THE ASSISTANCE!!!!! You guys are the GREATEST!!!!