Our First Old Town

Kathryn Klos

squirrel whisperer
The price was right (her owner only wanted the ol' boat to have a good home)... so we loaded up the 17 foot AA grade HW with sponsons and brought her to the barn. Serial number 21807 indicates the canoe was shipped in 1912 to Portland, Maine :).

Build record and pictures below. Can anyone decipher the notation at the bottom "transfer OH (??) P.G.C."?

Twelve ribs broken for sure... some rodent-chew on the gunwales. Beautiful thwarts and carry thwarts too... intact cane on seats. It was worked on at some time... a bit of "improvement" to be re-done.



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Nice freebie! Stuff like that never happens to me.
Are you guys leaving the sponsons on or ditching them? Any sign of the rowing seat or oarlocks?
I think I see where the oarlocks used to be... but there's no rowing seat!

If anyone (Benson?) knows what the "Indian cross" looks like, it might be fun to replicate.

If all we had was this one canoe, I might think of leaving off the sponsons... but since we have so many, I think it would be nice to restore this canoe with the sponsons on it... they aren't big, clunky sponsons, and I think the HW with sponsons is a nice looking canoe, with the mahogany trim piece along the edge of the sponsons. The canoe has outside stems, too... even though the build record doesn't state it. All-in-all, quite a surprise that such a nice canoe came walking through our door.

Denis says he'd like to try to replicate the picture from the 1912 OT catalog of the kids trying to sink the sponson canoe. (Image courtesy of The Complete Old Town Canoe Catalog Collection, edited by Dan Miller and Benson Gray, published by Dragonfly Canoe Works and available at www.dragonflycanoe.com.)

When looking through the 1912 catalog for information on Our New Canoe, I noticed that the canoe chair Andre asked about in this thread: http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?t=3821&highlight=canoe+chair
and the backrest Dave Osborn got with his Morris are both pictured. So, that confirms it for me: the backrest is an Old Town accessory-- not a Morris!



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Your First Old Town

Kathy and Denis,

Well, good for you guys and such an interesting OT for you first one.
Terrific that the previous owner wanted to see it go to a good home and I cannot think of a better home than yours (unless of course it was mine ! !)

Of course you need as sponson canoe, what was I thinking?

Hurry up and finish it so you can bring it on down to QWS in March.;)
Kathryn Klos said:
If anyone (Benson?) knows what the "Indian cross" looks like, it might be fun to replicate.

I believe that the "Indian cross" is shown at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/designs/ud-25-ic/ so you may want to consider the other implications of an accurate replication. The T.B. Davis Arms Company where it was shipped is shown at http://www.mainememory.net/bin/Detail?ln=5526 but this business appears to have been replaced by a parking garage.

It is not clear what the "transfer" comment means. This could be a water slide decal that was applied or a shipping instruction. It is less likely to be for shipping because these were usually placed on the "Via" line. This line clearly states that it was to be carried by the Maine Central Rail Road.

The picture replication project sounds like fun. I'm glad that you finally found an Old Town!

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Thanks, Benson... and we'll go with a different decoration on the boat. The house I grew up in had a tiled entry-way with the reverse swastika on the corner tiles-- for "good luck". Maybe a star in a circle would be a better bet!

We were just talking about this at dinner at Ma Dieter's in Luzerne, MI last night! I opined that this was probably the rarest OT decoration today, and that though a pre WWII image had no evil implications, today you wouldn't be able to take the boat outside the barn.:(
Congrats on joining the OT society! Does that boat have outside stems? Neither OS or the grab thwarts are mentioned in the record.
Yes-- outside stems and carry thwarts!

It was sooo cool, recognizing what it was (an AA grade HW) and knowing it was "an older Old Town" because it didn't have diamond head bolts, but has bolts that are counter-sunk and plugged. It now sits in the canoe loft, awaiting its turn to be restored... and in the meantime, I'll re-read Sue Audette's book!

That house with the reverse swastika arms, was it a Frank Lloyd Wright design or somebody from his school of architecture?
This design was, of course, an Indian design (Apache?). A friend lived in a house built by a fellow who was a Wright protege and used decorative floor tile with that reversed swastika tile interspersed with other designs.
Sorry if I hijacked this thread.

You're refreshing my memory, Howard. I believe my dad's house was a Purcell and Elmslie. Didn't realize tiles like that were typical of this school of design! Very cool to know that-- and so much for "hijacking"-- we're here to learn!

My parents' house was loaded with the charm of prairie school/mission architecture, and I think it strongly influenced my need for cool old things, like wooden canoes.

Can't say for sure that my parents' house was "for sure" a Purcell & Elmslie--- that was sort of a "family decision", based on what the old fellow my dad bought the house from told us... which was, "the architect I used studied with Frank Lloyd Wright." I think at some point my dad decided that he must have meant P&E, as they were the Prairie School firm working in Minneapolis at the time the house was built. I always planned to do more research on the house, but it was sold before I got around to it.

There's a house on the historic register in Mpls. that is a P&E, but until it was donated to the historical society everyone in that neighborhood referred to it as "the Frank Lloyd Wright house". So... my dad's house may have been a P&E... or of somebody else, who really was a student of Wright's.
When I was a deputy Sheriff in Arizona, there were ancient carvings on the stones that predated the Apache. Among these WERE the reverse Swatiska. Thought I would throw it in!...
Well, ignoring the decoration,

Kathy, be very carefull with that OT, and don't let it get too close to other canoes, as OT's seem to mysteriously self-propagate when your not looking, and shortly you'll have a bunch in your barn.

I worried that the Morris canoes might be able to breed with other canoes, thus creating the Kennebec-Morris hybrids... but then I realized all our canoes are female.

Thanks for the warning about the OT--- I'll keep my eye on that one!
Hmmmm!.....was gonna take a look at a Morris for sale cheap and in good condition but now you have me thinking of how to built a fence big enuf to keep out the OT's and those darn Chestnuts :D