Purely for entertainment


Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
I know wood canoes are to be paddled, but the new Bass Pro in Birmingham, AL has a nice collection of canoes. The pics are not that great but was wondering what they are so I can impress my friends with my vast knowledge....
1 of 3 attached


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Hi Lex,

Yes, Bass Pro Shops always have some old canoes- every store- but most are not as nice as these. The top one looks like a long-decked double-gunwale Old Town, similar to one owned by Benson. The second one looks like a Pete sponson that I think I've seen before, advertised in the recent past. The last one- I'm sure that was one of Ken Kelley's canoe's. It's a 1915 Rushton St. Lawrence. Pretty canoe... kinda sad to see it hanging in the rafters of Bass Pro Shops.

I know that some other nice ones have gone to Bass Pro Shops in recent years. Hopefully they don't drill holes in them when they mount them, as some restaurants and other stores do. I suppose that if BPS/Outdoor World takes care of them, then at least they're preserved, even if they won't be paddled for the next hundred years or so. Hmmm...

Canoes with long decks can be harder to identify from one or two pictures... unless the general lines of the canoe suggest something. The middle canoe-- the one with short decks (which may be maple)-- has sponsons. Can you read the decal?

The third canoe-- which has long decks-- has a very cool paint job. All the canoes appear to be nicely-done. With my limited knowledge (I'm "just learning"), I'd have to look at the stems, tapering of ribs... check for numbers... stuff like that... and then check out Dan's canoe ID site (www.dragonfly.com/id/).

Someone else here may be able to suggest possible builders, based on the profiles of the canoes.

Most people know very little about canoes, so you may appear to have great knowledge simply by saying, "cool long-decked canoes... and I like the color scheme on the one with sponsons"... or, if someone says, "hey, look at the Old Towns" (because many people think any wood/canvas canoe is an Old Town)... you can say, "looks more like White or Rushton to me"... and even if that isn't what they are, you'd be showing them that you know some other possibilities...

Ken's canoe...

Yeah, I was gonna say that looked like Ken's Indian Gril, but I didn't know it had sold. Denis and I paddled that one. I think my eBay profile picture is Den and me in that canoe... it was great fun to paddle.

My eBay Pic

Sorry this image is so small... I haven't gotten my files back from the fellow who saved them for me when my other computer crashed. Wanted everyone to see how cool that canoe looks on water.


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The last canoe (Rushton) is also pictured on Gil Cramer's web site (along with a photo of it at Ken's house).

The sponson canoe has a Peterborough decal on the deck. It's sponsons look like Pete sponsons in design, and the color scheme (green canoe with red sponson tops) seems typical of Peterborough.

It reminds me of another sponson canoe that was discussed on these forums- one that had the same features but heart-shaped decks (a la Morris). Said to be a Peterborough product, but with Morris-type splayed stems:


The long-decked canoe is Old Town. It has an early Old Town decal on the deck, and it has the hallmarks of this kind of Old Town-

1. double gunwale construction,
2. solid one-piece mahogany decks,
3. spiral seat spacer blocks, and
4. the thwarts have that characteristic shape that you see only on the early Old Towns



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Hey Lex - good to see you on the forums. I really enjoyed our visit last month. Looks like you have a few more mystery canoes to ID!
Hey Kath I was surprised to see the I.G too but also surprised you didn't recognize it right off. See ya when I get home! :D
To Hang or not to Hang?

It is sad to see a canoe dust covered and forlorn hanging behind a bar or in a store. In an ideal world every canoe should have a caring person using and maintaining it. But isn't it better off as a hanger than rotting and neglected? I find most of my project canoes forgotten in backyards and sheds. After much work pulling them back into shape, replacing rotten and broken parts and refinishing them to a degree far finer than when they left the factory they are paddled for a time then end up as hangers on my shop wall. Few people ever see them.

I have offered, free of charge, my pre-1906 Morris to the third generation of the family that bought it used in 1906. It has no numbers or plates and has only two pair of cant ribs. (Thank you, Kathy.) The only condition is that they guarantee safe dry storage and careful usage. No takers, these young people have no family boat houses, barns or family room walls big enough for a 17 foot canoe. I would be pleased to have my various canoes hanging someplace where they can be seen, perhaps appreciated by people who may have never seen a wood canoe before.

Eventually all hangers will come down, hopefully into the hands of someone who values them for their history and beauty. Until they are unhung they are in a time capsule as well protected as Grandpa's old canoe that has been in the barn for 40 years waiting for me to discover it.



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Well, R.C., you should be happy to know that the old Lakefield has neither been sold off to hang in the rafters of a store, nor left to languish in the dark, dusty recesses of my workshop. We've used it regularly, continued working on it where you left off (updating varnish, adding a replicated Lakefield decal, etc.), and even taken it to a few shows where it has been greatly admired. You may not recognize it in my tiny abstract avatar, but that's it with the Riverboy, setting out to paddle the very scenic St. Marks River in northwest Florida, almost exactly one year ago. The photo below was taken during early morning setup at a show last October... you can see the red hull behind the other two canoes. The perspective of the photo doesn't show just how humble these little boats are in front of the massive Norwegian/Swedish TALISMAN going upriver. Humble as our wooden canoes may be, the old Lakefield has been much enjoyed!



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Well, I have been away from the computer and just got to read the responses to this thread this morning.

Facinating that the Rushton was recognized! Beautiful canoe.
What year would the OT have come from with the double gunwale design?

I have seen many WC canoes in Bass Pro stores, but most aren't nearly this nice. There are about 10 more in this particular store. But these 3 definitely stood out. Drove me crazy that I couldn't borrow a ladder to get a up close look.
Thanks for the information as always!

Mike, Thanks for the DVD!
lbrown said:
What year would the OT have come from with the double gunwale design?

I have seen many WC canoes in Bass Pro stores, but most aren't nearly this nice. There are about 10 more in this particular store. But these 3 definitely stood out. Drove me crazy that I couldn't borrow a ladder to get a up close look.

The Old Town catalogs listed the "Mahogany Double Gunwales" option from 1905 to 1923. I have also wanted to borrow a ladder to examine some canoes on the wall at a Cabela's store in Scarborough, Maine that appear to be incorrectly labeled as shown in the low quality images below. These are especially frustrating because I worked with their "Theming Specialist" who designed the store and provided a very high resolution scan of an 1928 Old Town catalog cover for one of their displays. I also looked up several build records and told him that some of these labels didn't look correct before they were installed. Oh well,



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