Peterborough / Lakefield canoe?

Benson Gray

Canoe History Enthusiast
Staff member
Marc Kempf has asked me to post the following information for him:

I am in the process of restoring this Canadian Peterborough or Lakefield canoe. It would be good to get some more information before I dig into it. The canoe is 15.6 feet long, 12 inches deep, 34 inches wide and the original paint was green. The thwarts are of light weight wood with an orange color and the floor boards are very light. The gunnels appear to be white oak. The deck was partially replaced several years ago. Were they originally butternut wood? Where would I find the serial number?

The family history is that this canoe was used at several regattas near Rice Lake, Peterborough, Lakefield, and the area, as well as the Oochiching race in 1888. I am in Ottawa. Any ideas or other information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. Sincerely,

Marc Kempf


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Flush Wood Battens?

Do I see flush wood battens in that canoe? I think so.

I'd have to go back to the catalogs, I know of a few that built some early canoes with flush wood battens, and Walter Dean who used the brass metal batten. I'm not sure Dean used flush wood battens, but someone up in Canada did.

Looks like its in great condition and a super canoe to add to any collection.

I would think the floor boards are basswood.

Peter and I stripped my early William English canoe that is a regular 4 board plank and batten canoe that I believe is a model 20 racer. The thwarts are hollowed out on the bottom side and after stripping they appear to be Pine??

Pine has a yellowish tint and distinctive grain vs. the usual woods used.

That's all, for whatever its worth.

Your canoe was most likely built by one of the following canoe companies; Tom Gordon, Strickland & Co or the Lakefield Canoe Co.
If the canoe is as old as 1888 as your family history indicate, it was built by Tom Gordon of Lakefield.
In 1904 Thomas Gordon merged his business with that of Strickland & Co – established 1892 by Robert Strickland. The new company was named Lakefield Canoe Co.

Your canoe is most likely a flush batten wide-board canoe model# 42 or # 62.
Model # 42 was made of basswood, iron fastened and painted inside and out. Model # 62 was made of basswood, copper fastened and either varnished inside and out or painted outside and varnished inside. Decks were made of butternut. Trimmings were made of walnut, cherry or mahogany. Floor boards were made of basswood.

If there is a serial number it will be stamped into the upper faces of the thwart blocks.

Dick Persson
Buckhorn Canoe Company
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peterborough canoe?

to Dick Persson,Paul Miller, and Paul Messler
wow! you made my day! thank you all for that reply,
yes it is a flush batten ,and the thwarts may be cherry or mohagany , still looking for the serial num.
looking for an 18 ft white oak board for the gunwales, a ring mast
as well as any specs on the mast ,i do have the lee boards as well ,any suggestions on reading materials regarding restoration,or any web site as to info,regarding tom gordon canoes
any thing can help
again many thanks to you all
sincerly , marc kempf
Nice canoe, It rang a bell when you mentioned your thwarts having an orange color. I did a peterborough that after stripping the seat, thwarts, and cleats having the same orange color. I compared them to some re-claimed chestnut and it looked the same. Chinese blight killed or deformed the mighty chestnut. Peterborough, and probably other builders, did use chestnut. Mine are not Mahogany or cherry. They may be an old growth butternut heartwood. All the butternut I've seen is kinda gray compared to the originals parts. I think chestnut, but would like to here others pipe in about the orange color.

They have a 15/16 american chestnut that is blight resistant and being replanted now.
The wood of the American chestnut is lightweight and has beautiful grain, similar to oak-- Denis and I have found several pieces of furniture in antique shops marked "oak" that are actually chestnut.

One of our new old canoes has chestnut trim, and thankfully Denis scored some old dining-room paneling made of chestnut, so we can re-create a seat that was replaced with a modern Old Town seat. I'll post a picture of the thwart and original seat in this canoe, and also a picture of the surface of a table made of American chestnut.

If anyone reading this needs chestnut to restore a canoe, send us a picture or otherwise let us know what you'd need and we'll see if we have a board of the proper size for your restoration.



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Denis says what we have is chestnut window and door trim, 3-6 feet long by 4.5" wide by 7/8" thick. Not wormy. Not knotty. Ches-nutty.
steam bending deck

im still working on my flush batten canoe,now working on the new deck. i have to steam bend the wood,but it has 2 curves ,how do i achieve this feast
the deck is 15,5 in by 28in ,the butternut lumber i have is 1 by 12 ,
i guess i have to bend the wood before gluing the remaining 5 in
any suggestion will be very welcomed
sincerly Marc Kempf