Old Town record please


New Member
Could you dig up the build record on serial # 62864 17 please. It looks to be a 17 foot Otca and it has plugged seat/thwart bolts so maybe an AA? Looks to have had duckboards at one time. Family history would date it to about 1920. Also, I have what appears to be an 18 foot B.N. Morris serial#13642 model D? (by measurements) type 1 (by deckplates). Any info or direction to info on it would be great. Thanks in advance.
Hello from a geezer--

It seems the family history on your Old Town is fairly accurate. Old Town 62864 is a 17 foot CS grade ("common sense") Otca model, built between September of 1920 and March of 1921. Old Town didn't begin using the diamond-head bolts until around this time, as I recall from reading Benson's posts, so it may be of interest to know yours may be one of the last group to have plugs instead of diamond-head bolts.

This canoe has red Western cedar planking, open spruce gunwales, and 20" birch decks. It was fitted with a keel and floor rack and painted cream... then shipped off to a store (Wagon's something-store) in Gladwin, Michigan on April 11, 1921.

The canoe was shipped with two copper-tipped spruce paddles and a double-wide slatted back rest.

A scan of this record is attached below. This scan and several hundred thousand others 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/ot_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.php to renew.

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.

I'll poke around the catalog from 1921 and find a picture of the backrest.

And NOW, let's talk about your Morris:

Are you in Michigan? Is your Morris in Michigan? We (the gatherers of Morris info) are in the U.P. and we sometimes drive to examine Morris canoes. We now have about 200 canoes in the database, and small glimmers of light have begun to shine through the miasma of hearsay and speculation and old wives tales re these canoes.

The wood canoe identification guide at www.dragonflycanoe.com has good basic information on Morrises.

Back issues of "Wooden Canoe" have a lot of information and if all Morris information is read "in order" give a good account of the evolution of our knowledge about them. If you haven't read the articles on the Morris database which have appeared in the past couple years in "Wooden Canoe", I would be happy to send them to you. Email me at kathrynklos@gmail.com... I could attach stories to email, but if you can give me a snail mail address, I can send the magazines.

According to our current theory, a Morris with the serial number 13642 dates from approximately 1915.

I'll send this post and will reply again with a list of the information we'd like to get from Morris owners for our Morris Database.



  • OT62864.jpg
    407.9 KB · Views: 248

Hello again--

First, I've attached the image containing the backrest that originally went with your canoe--- does it still exist? Nice to have original accessories. Image courtesy "The Complete Old Town Canoe Company Catalog Collection 1901-1993" edited by Benson Gray and Daniel Miller and available through www.dragonflycanoe.com.

Re your Morris: Any information is greatly appreciated, because each Morris canoe added to the database says something and adds to what we know--- information that may shed light on the company itself and/or the canoes specifically. This information helps us understand many things: helps those bringing a canoe back to life to restore it accurately, if they choose to do so; sheds light on business practices in general and canoe-businesses and B.N. Morris Company business in particular; sheds light on the times in which these canoes were used and enjoyed, and the folks who paddled them.... and probably more.

While any Morris-- with or without a serial number-- can be plugged into the database, the more information we get, the greater the chance we'll discover something. You've doped out your canoe's model and type, and this helps a lot.

We like to know the following, if possible (this info is for ALL who may have or know of a Morris):

Length of canoe.

Model-- or measurements so we can, perhaps, figure it out. Most Morrises are model A, so it's interesting to find any of the others.

Serial number-- including location of serial number (on stem or inwale or elsewhere) and type of serial number plate (oval or rectangle with rounded corners, or anything else). A Morris in the 13-thousand series most-likely has a rectangular plate on the stem).

Deck style-- see the section of Forums titled "canoe photo index" for examples of known short-deck types. A short-decked Morris in the 13-thousand series most likely has the concave curved deck.

Wood species. Bert Morris liked mahogany trim-- for decks and seat frames. But other wood species are seen on both B.N. Morris canoes (birdseye maple for example) and on the "second grade" Veazie model.

Color of the canoe's interior--- if the canoe has been refinished, we may not know if the original stain was "light" or "dark". Interior stain-color is something we've only recently begun looking at, as a result of the database. It seems most Morris canoes were originally stained a dark mahogany to match the mahogany trim... but some are lighter. At first, it seemed the canoes with lighter interiors had high serial numbers, as though this was a change that happened late in Morris production. But we've recently had a couple of canoes dating to the first decade of the 20th Century which have light interiors.

Cant rib count. Cant ribs are those "half ribs" waaaaay up under the decks at each end, which are canted into the stem. The splayed stem of the Morris "bites into" the first full rib... and above that will either be two pairs of cants or three pairs--- early Morris canoes have two pairs. The change to three pairs appears to have happened in about 1905, or with canoes in the three thousand series.

Pictures-- profile of canoe. Morris canoe profile changed over time... and in the later years of production "special ends" were offered as an option--- this was a "torpedo" look. A 13-thousand series canoe could have the traditional ends, which had less recurve-- or the torpedoed "special ends". We hope to learn when changes in the profile happened, which would help date those canoes where the serial number plate is missing.

Picture-- the stem. Morris canoes have a very unusual stem.

Picture-- serial number plate. If no plate, picture of bow stem clearly showing presence or absence of four holes that would indicate presence or absence of rectangular s/n plate... and picture of inwale on the left side, at the bow-end, just above the first full rib-- showing presence or absence of two holes which would have held the oval s/n plate.

Picture-- decks. With long-decked canoes, indicate length of each deck.

Picture-- interior shot, showing seats and thwarts. On an 18 footer, the center thwart is attached with wing-nuts so it could be removed easily and it often went missing for that reason.... so, having a middle thwart "is a gift".

Pictures or descriptions of anything unusual or which seem "extra"... a decal, flag sockets, fancy outwales, half-ribs or a floor rack, oar locks, spotlights... any accessories, such as back rests or paddles.

History-- where it was paddled, and by whom.

Thanks for any info-- from anyone reading this. We appreciate greatly getting any scraps of information, even if it isn't your canoe. Members have emailed us about canoes seen in museums or in a neighbor's garage... and it all helps, even if it's just a verbal description-- a deck style with a serial number is a big help.



  • page-27.gif
    131.8 KB · Views: 263
thank you very much

Thank you very much for your fast response. I have owned these two canoes for about twenty years now, and it is in just the last couple of days that I have learned anything concrete about them. They were purchased through an outfitter in Ely, Minn that my wife and I had used in the previous ten years (and on our honeymoon, seemed a natural as most of our dates were in my Grumman). We were living in Texas at the time, no wood and canvas canoes there, so we asked him to find one for us. Finally located two for us that could be rebuilt. Having built several canoes in my fathers shop from plans in Boys Life in my youth, I looked forward to the process. Fast forward twenty-plus years, Two kids finally raised and gone, I'm retired and find my hands not as able as they once were. I'm struggling with the possibilty of parting with the unfinished and much anticipated projects. I have gone as far as to list them on craigslist. May have to rethink that now that I have more information on them, hate to think I've moved them all over the country all these years to give up now.
Enough about that. The Old Town build sheet is a dead match, Thanks. The remaining canvas is even cream/whiteish under the now blue topcoat. The floor rack and seat back are sadly gone as are two of the original thwarts. The Morris is an 18 footer and using the chart at dragonflycanoe on hull dimensions I'm matching it to a model D. The serial number is a round cornered rectangular plate on the base of the bow stem. It is mounted long axis parallel to the keel. The deck plates are equal in length and of the heart shape. The gunnel/chine caps are not present on the decks. (they may have been left off in a long ago rebuild no telltail holes though). The decks/seats and gunnels are mahogany (trust me I have been working wood for over 50 years) The interior has been stained dark, which is readily apparent even under the many coats of varnish when compared to the few ribs that were replaced in that rebuild I mentioned. The replaced ribs match so well that I've often wandered if the factory hadn't done it. It has three cant ribs. The seats are covered with an oilcloth type material, I can feel the empty holes for the caneing on the underside. The center thwart is present and matches, but just doesn't "feel" as gracefully "smooth" to my hands and I've always suspected a replacement. The canoe currently sports aluminum angles on the stern gunnels to support a motor bracket? Certainly not a Morris option!? A " insulated wire" type wrapping is on the gunnels just ahead of the stern seat, not sure of what it is/was meant to protect (part of the motor mount?). I haven't figured out how to post pictures here yet but will e-mail them to you. Thanks again and let me know if you need more info for your project. It might be a bit of a drive to meet the Morris in person, I'm in Dayton, Ohio, but I'd be more than happy to help out if I can. Tim
Posting Your Pics

Thanks for the pictures and other great information, Tim. Here's an example of an interesting (for me) aspect of this Morris canoe: The rectangular s/n plate on the stem is most-commonly oriented with the longer side parallel with the wide end of the splayed stem. But it seems somebody occasionally attached them with this orientation-- with the longer edge parallel with the keel. Looking at the canoes in the database, there are these little groups of numbers close-together, which have s/n plates with this "opposite" orientation. Somebody's "signature"? -- the personal stamp of some bored factory-worker? It's an interesting difference, at any rate.

The heart-deck on a 13-thousand series canoe is an interesting factor too-- at that point in the serial numbers, the short decks seem to be evenly divided between heart or curve... with the curve becoming more common toward the end of Morris' production.

I'll get those issues of Wooden Canoe in the mail. Thanks again for the great contribution to our database!



  • 001.JPG
    140.2 KB · Views: 262
  • 002.JPG
    141.4 KB · Views: 277
  • 003.JPG
    147.6 KB · Views: 250
  • 005.JPG
    153.6 KB · Views: 269
  • 006.JPG
    140 KB · Views: 257
  • 007.JPG
    149.3 KB · Views: 267