Original Morris Paperwork

Kathryn Klos

squirrel whisperer
Currently on eBay is the receipt for B.N. Morris canoe serial number 1870, shipped in June of 1903. Whether or not I win this auction, this is an extremely valuable piece of information for our "Morris Files".

Thanks for the heads-up, Greg!


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actually, it's 1876...

The serial number appears to be 1876 when carefully scrutinized, sitting down (and not jumping up and down).
Now we have a new way to estimate Morris ship dates from serial numbers as shown in the chart below. This also seems to imply that he was not putting serial numbers on canoes much before 1900 (or his sales were exceptionally low). I hope that you can get this document.



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My (Unsubstaniated) Theory...

My theory regarding the Morris serial numbers is that the numbering system we commonly see (4 or 5 digits on an oval or rectangular brass plate) began when Morris began calling his canoes "Type A, Model 1" and so on, rather than "Indian" etc... in other words, in approximately 1902. So, the other sn theory--using the first digit or two of the serial number to date the canoe-- sort of worked, but it was coincidental: there was that thing about the factory fire in 1920 and the serial numbers being 17-series, which called this theory to question. However, if they didn't begin this system of numbering until 1902 (or so), it works.... because 1920 wasn't a true production year for the Morris factory, which burned in the first few days of 1920... so the 17-series boats most likely were built in 1919.

Eventually, other Morris boats may show up in our database to either substantiate what we are now seeing or give us a different perspective...

Anyway, this is cool cool cool. Thanks for the chart, Benson!
The problem is that in the absence of build records (or a more complete collection of sales receipts), it is all conjecture. One of the assumptions of Benson's chart is that production was constant over the years, but as you can see from the attached chart derived from a complete analysis of Kennebec and Carleton records, production varied widely in the teens...

I have no problem believing Morris only built 1800 canoes from his start in the 1890s, and that he may have started numbering them then... The number of surviving canoes from that time would appear to bear that out.

Remember, as you are trying to explain away these things, that Occam is your best friend...



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As yet, no one has submitted data on those older boats-- the pre-1900 Morrises-- which speaks to what you are saying about their rarity, Dan... despite what Bert Morris implies about his canoes in his catalogs!

Do these older Morris canoes look so unlike the boats we know that they aren't recognized as Morrises? Do pre-1900 Morris canoes have the splayed stem? Would be interesting to know when these features appeared.
The point you bring up is exactly why Kathy and I are trying to collect data from as many Morris/Veazie owners as possible. There is always hope that more paperwork will show up too. The more data we have, the more closely we can get to solving the dating mystery. Though realistically it will always have varients which create puzzelment.
So if any of you fellow Wcha members out there know of any Morrises /Veazies that are not in the data bank PLEASE ask the owners to help.
This post is actually from me. Kathy didn't log me off my computer this morning so her posts look like the came from me.
Peace, Denis :)
Interesting that the logo on the Morris receipt looks similar to the WCHA logo...

This image of the canoe or one like it was used for a long time by Morris, and it was "borrowed" development of the WCHA logo. The image was used by the WCHA since at least 1990- maybe a product of Bob Hicks when he became Editor and Published ot Wooden Canoe? So this is why the logo resembles the Morris cut- it's the same! Outstanding choice, by the way- to me, this is one of the best cuts of a canoe that exists; a beautiful image.


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Thanks for that info, Michael--- I've looked at that emblem again and again, and thought it was only my imagination-- driven by a particular "obsession"-- that made it appear to be a Morris!

In looking over the catalog collection on CD, it would be nice to find some catalogs (if not actual boats) to fill in the years between 1893 and 1901 and discover the evolution of the BN Morris canoe from the boat that sort-of resembles a birch bark in 1893 to one that's more familiar in 1901.


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Wrong Attachment...

I will try again to attach a picture of a canoe from the Morris catalogs that looks like the WCHA emblem.


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Yes, Kathy, that's the same image I posted above. The image in the current logo looks a bit different just because of the iteration it went through to make the current logo. But it's still from the same original, and the one that's been used for a long time- see black and white images from old issues of the journal. Even the painter ring is there, floor rack is similarly visible, ribs, etc. And of course the heart-shaped decks.
Chicago Fair-- The Columbian Exposition

Wanted to get back to this thread to say that in researching EH Gerrish in Maine this past fall, Denis Kallery found a source stating that Eve Gerrish displayed three of his canoes (14, 16, and 18 footers) at this fair, following success at a previous fair in New Orleans. He also displayed some paddles. Another source stated that Gerrish paddles were split-out-- or reaved-- and "as long as a tall man".
Dick Persson said:
and this is what :)
The Daily Whig & Courier reported in April of 1893;

“Among the exhibits at the World’s Fair will be six canvas boats and canoes from the shop of B.N. Morris of Veazie...”

The page attached below from the Historic CD describes these in more detail.



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We Won!

The B.N. Morris Club won the auction for the Morris receipt! Thanks to all club members who contributed to this outcome. This canoe's serial number has already been added to the WCHA Morris/Veazie database... would be nice to know the whereabouts of the boat too.
Morris Data base?

Hi Kathryn,

Where do we keep the WCHA Morris/Veazie database?

I may have some information to contribute.

I will be sending you some pics of my "key hole" Morris that I came accross and also wonder if I shouldn't scan all of my Morris documents and let you put it all together. I think I have already sent you a sample of what I have.

Good work and good luck,



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Hi Paul--

At this time, the Morris/Veazie database is in my computer... but maybe there's a way to have a page on this website that people could deposit information into. At the page heading, there could be a list of things we are looking for: canoe length, deck type and form, serial number and sn plate type, etc... and then there'd be a place where folks could look at all the information as it has been put into some kind of order... to see where their canoe fits into the scheme of things. With many eyes looking at the information, we may make better sense of the history of these canoes.

Thanks for posting a picture of your Veazie. It's also in the next issue of Wooden Canoe (along with your hand, holding the deck). Denis and I now have a similar canoe.

Your Morris documents are very interesting and I'd love to see more of them! (Did I mention the new puppy is named Bert?)

I've printed out the information people have sent me, just in case something happens to my computer...

Also, any Morris database information placed on line would be about the canoe, and not its owner.

Save a backup on a flash drive, that way you won't have to retype it.
And call your master "master" and the copies, yes, "copy". That way you always know which file is the most current.