Penn Yan ID


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I have a canoe I picked up locally that looks like a Penn Yan. Any help would be appreciated. The only markings on the stems are ONS66
DSC_0024.jpgDSC_0017.jpgDSC_0023.jpg Thank you, Reid
You have a Penn Yan Owasco with spruce trim built between 1933 and 1947 and based on the "66" it was most likely early in the run like 1933 or 1934.

Hello Reid,

None of PennYan's records exist-- I believe they were burned. However, PennYan put a code of sorts into their serial numbers, so ONS66 designates an Owasco model canoe with spruce trim, dating from 1933-1947. This information can be found at by scrolling to PennYan on the left. Others here may have additional information more specific to your canoe. It appears to be a great project.

You may find some historical information about PennYans by using the "search" function above and to the right. The WCHA Assembly has been held at a college in the finger lakes region of New York that isn't far from the town of PennYan, and it was interesting visiting that town and the site of the factory, which is apparently affected by toxic waste from boat building.

PennYan canoes have a good reputation, so you have a nice find there.


I have ONS 62, welcome to the Penn Yan "club".

Based on a chat with a Penn Yan rep, my best guess is a built in year of 1931 or ’32, not later than 1934 – Penn Yan rep said ’31 was 1st year for the 16’ Owasco, and that in the 1st half of a decade they dropped part of the S/N code.

Did you get or take any pics of the canoe before stripping it??
The pic of your deck shows a shadow of a oval decal that could be similar or the same as mine, and I haven't yet found a good enough image to replicate it. Years ago when i contacted Dan Sutherland , he claimed to have also seen this style decal but he also haven't seen one good enough to replicate.

Attached is a pic of my "decal".


I forgot, did you get it from a Penn Yan collector in (I think NY)? I talked to a guy there who, amoung a bunch of Penn Yan boats, he had a number of canoes, including ONS 65,66,67 ?? He had (I think) 3 S/N 's in a row, just after mine.

Penn Yan ONC 62 Decal.jpg
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Are we sure Penn Yan numbered sequentially? I used to have a Rainbow with the SN RNS46145 - if we accept the working theory that the 46 is the year, than is 145 the 145th canoe of all time, or just of that year? I tend to believe the latter.

There are at least three decals known - the one Dan shows above, the smaller black oval, and the rectangular blue one with the sailboat. The latter is the latest. The black oval appears in the earliest PY catalogs.
At one time, Doug Nichols had the black oval decals. I might even still have one around. For some reason, the year 1935 comes to mind as the year PY went to the rectangular blue decal.
Paul, Thanks for the info and especially the date range. Kathy, Thanks for the company history. I hope to see a little more of that area (other than the toxic waste).... Dan, thanks for welcoming me to the club and the other Dan, thanks for giving me something to ponder.
I got the boat from Bryan Wilhelm and he had already stripped it. He had not checked out its lineage. It still had blue paint on the rails and decks which I delicately removed. I've been a painter all my life and I couldn't find any remnants of the decal, only the oval shadow. The boat was also glassed before and the resin seemed to give up easily. She sure has a nice shape. Almost three inches of tumblehome on each side. I love the curves.
Dan, Bryan may have gotten the boat from that NY collector. I hope to get her in shape this winter. I'm gathering some materials and thinking of slicing the rails, decks and stems to maintain originality. There are some interesting bevels in those rails. Planking and ribs are in good shape.

Thanks Again, Everyone.

I look forward to meeting you all and seeing all the wonderful canoes. So many of you have such special finds.


I have no idea if the PY S/N are consecutive total or by year, but I agree, by year seems to match better and make more sense. Not sure how that fits with the "year" only being in the last half of a decade though.

And for either Dan or Gil, do either of you have or know of an image of that 1st style decal that you might be able to pass along.
I best I've ever seen of it is the image I attached. When I got the canoe, it was painted over with several coats of paint, which i carefully removed to expose what is in the image.

And Reid, yes, the PY has very pretty lines, and this one, is it the PY that Bryan was trying to sell for the past year or so? I called him on it, but he couldn't give me much info and I was looking for a Rainbow to go with my Owasco so I passed. (That and arranging the logistics to get it to MN just didn't work out. )

Hey Dan,

So if I understand correctly. Your thoughts are that each year the number sequence may begin a new. Which would mean that number 66 could be the 66th boat of 1931 and then there would be a 66th boat of 32 and 33 and so on. If that is the case than the decals and the style of decal helps determine the year. As I stripped that deck I found very faint black remnants. I assumed that the black was a backing or foundation of the decal and therefore really couldn't or didn't represent the front side of the decal. I've seen water transfered decals where the underside was the first or major color laid down and all the other pigment is on top. I would be interested in any decals you guys come up with and I'll try to find some images for PY as well.

I did buy the boat from the listing on WCHA. It was easy as I'm an hour from Bryan.

I don't have a photo of the actual black oval decal, but it would look something like the design attached below...


  • pennyan decal design from early catalog.gif
    pennyan decal design from early catalog.gif
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DSC_0033.JPGThank you very much Dan Miller,

My outline certainly seems to match Mr. Linbergs' decal. I guess that makes sense given the closeness of the numbers. Sister ships maybe?