Peterborough Dart

Michael Grace

Lifetime Member
Does anyone own a Peterborough Dart? Have any thoughts on this canoe? Apologies up front, but I've never been able to get very excited about many Canadian wood-canvas canoes. But this canoe- one that appears to be a Dart- looks pretty interesting. It has seats that convert from typical horizontal seat to a vertical backrest, long peaked bow deck, locker under bow deck, etc.

I remember a bit of a discussion about the Dart once before, but I can find very little else about the canoe. Of course I've found it in Peterborough catalogs, but that's all. I'd enjoy hearing from anyone who has personal experience with a Dart.

I've got one hanging in my storage area waiting to be worked on. And as there is no money in it, (its for me) it will probably have to wait for awhile. Its in pretty rough shape, but still restorable.

What did you want to know? Are you looking for one? Can't have mine...

Its a lot like a Sunnyside Cruiser as far as shape of hull and stem is concerned, even the way the decks are set up. It really is a cool canoe.

Apologies accepted, Michael. I've never been able to get very excited about many American wood & canvas canoes.
Funny how we are drawn to what we are accustomed to... I have a friend in Poland who spent a couple of years in the US as a grad student back before the iron curtain came down. When his visa required him to return home I felt sorry for him, but he told me he was happy to be going back. He smiled and said "Home is home!" I realized then how much we cherish what is comfortable, what we known and understand.

Okay, okay, back to canoes...

No, I'm not looking for a Dart, but rather have found one... at least it fits the Dart description and images from old catalogs, so I think that's what it is. Has the peaked bow deck, locker, etc. It's in remarkably good condition, and seems to be a pretty nice canoe. I'm just curious about how it would feel on the water. I can glean some things from the hull shape, sheer, setup, etc., but I've never paddled one of these or its close relatives.

Michael, you said you were done buying canoes! Maybe we should form WCA. (wooden canoes anonymous) ( Hi, my name is Mark Adams and it has has been 1 hour since I bought my last canoe)

The Pete sounds like a cool canoe. I myself just committed to a 25' war canoe. I need it like I need a hole in the head, but it was too good a deal to pass up. I actually have room for it in storage (I think). Now all I have to do is sell stuff on eBay to finance the deal. I shuffle my hobby funds around!
Yeah, Mark and I commiserate frequently... "This is the last one." "I can't afford another one." "I don't have any more space." And on and on...

It's really a disease, isn't it, Mark? There's the last one, the very last one... and then another interesting one pops up! They're lost puppies, you know- how can we say no?

About this one, I'm more curious than anything, because I didn't really know the Dart. It really looks like an interesting canoe, and might be a lot of fun on the water. But whatever the case, don't let on to Tanya that I've got the shakes again!

Mine is hardly in paddling condition, but I built a Sunnyside Cruiser few years back, so I'm quite familiar with the hull shape and its character.

In essence, the Dart is a low volume canoe with narrow beam, rounded mid shape, long waterlines, and minimal rocker. It is quick, not very stable, and doesn't like to turn. Its great in quiet water. Easy paddling when solo, but if going tandem take only good paddlers.

Its ideal if the partner is a pretty girl in a summer frock sitting on a low canoe seat. It would be great it the canoe had backrests at the seats so they can sit low...Wait! it does! How about that?
Two Questions: I have the Canadian Wood Canoe Catalog Collection CD. Can anyone tell me which catalog will have the most detail on the Dart? Secondly, how does the swing seat work? Are there any detailed drawings or photos? I can look through each catalog, but I thought maybe one of you folks had the info. right off the top of your head. I don't have or need a Dart. I'm just curious about the mechanics of the seat, the cabinet, and the hull and deck shape.


I'll try to get some photos, but for now, the CD I have shows the Dart in all catalogs included between 1927 and 1943 (when in "peterborough", click "Model Index", and the click on "Sport Model Canoes (Dart, Comet)".

The seats are each attached to a turned central support beam via brass brackets. I'll try to get some photos to post here.


Another canoe, how big is the collection now?:)

I have paddled and repaired a couple of “Darts” over the years and I agree with Douglas assessment to 100%. This is a fair weather canoe.

This style of canoe originated with Walter Dean in Toronto and became very popular. It was of course quickly copied and built by many of the Canadian builders. Most of them built the model only in all-wood construction and to my knowledge only Peterborough built a canvas covered version.

Peterborough Canoe Co introduced their canvas covered version in 1921, model # 644. In 1925 or 1926 this first version was replaced by the Dart model with a few small moderations. The Dart was produced until the mid 1940’s.

Dick Persson
Headwater Wooden Boat Shop
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I have a 1955 catalog with both the Dart and the Comet still listed.

The Comet is the all wood version and has a rounded bow deck available. the Dart has only the long peaked deck like the Dean Sunnyside Cruiser.

Both have the same stem profile as the Sunnyside cruiser.

My Dart doesn't have any locker, and the seats may have been modified through some ill considered repair attempt, they don't currently have the swivel feature. Dick, there is a circular bracket at the peak of the bow deck, there are pictures of it in the catalog. I can't tell if mine is the original or not as its pretty lightly built. Do you know if it was intended for a mast or just a parasol?

In response to the question about how that seat works, there is a dowel across the middle of the seat around which it rotates, and a riser/bracket the secures the seat in the horizontal position.

I suspect that the catalog you have and refer to is the reprint by R. MacGregor.
That reprint contains material from both 1929 and 1956 catalogs. The page with the Dart and Comet is from the 1929 catalog.

I have seen that little bracket as well as a more substantial cross member with a mast hole (see pic below).
I always believed that the small bracket was intended for a parasol.



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Thank you all for the info. The catalogs are not very detailed. I can understand the pivot of the seat, but I will look forward to seeing a picture of the bracket that keeps it in horizontal position. From the catalog pics it looks like it would flip you on the floor if you moved toward the front of the seat. That could be useful when unexpectedly approaching white water.:rolleyes:
Hi Max,

Here is a picture of the seat. The arrow in the picture points to a small wood piece that you turn to lock the seat in position.



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I just checked the catalog this morning, which is an original, and it appears that I was mistaken. It's NOT in the 1955 catalog.

Thanks for the seat photo, Dick. Are those metal corner brackets original? I've never seen them used, perhaps part of somebody's repair work?

I am sure the metal corner brackets were a repair; the brackets had been added on top as well as below the frame. The seat frame was in pretty bad condition with broken dowels.

If you check the first page in the Peterborough catalogs, you will find a two digit catalog number; that number is the last two digits of the year the catalog came out.

By the way, nice blog you started.

Dick Persson

Thanks for looking! And thanks for the catalog info. Though in this case its not really needed as it has 1955 in big numbers right on the cover!
Photos of the Dart

I'm finally getting back to this Dart discussion. Here are some photos for consideration. The canoe appears to have the bow decking replaced- it is in multiple pieces instead of a single board on each side. The bow has a storage locker, but the door is missing. Otherwise th canoe is in very good condition.



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Although I am of the Canadian persuasion, I have to say, that peaked deck is UGLY. Really, what is the attraction to this canoe model? Well, it sure is distinctive.
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Rob, The Dart had the big peaked deck in the bow and the smaller deck in the stern. It's aesthetic may be up for discussion, but it is what was used. I think that it is a direct nod, or effort to copy, the Dean Sunnyside Cruiser. The Dart/Comet really seems to be Peterborough's response to the Dean canoe.

Whatever happened to Dean Canoes? Did it get swallowed up by Peterborough? That could explain the Dart?Comet.

The deck in the photo appears to be higer peaked than the original, could be the photo.
Thanks Peter, and Douglas.
That retro fitted deck is certainly more "peaked" than the Sunnyside Cruiser.