Questionable Serial Number

Max Peterson

LOVES Wooden Canoes
I picked up a little 14' canoe that has many characteristics of an OT OTCA. It has survived numerous repairs and needs to be re-built once again. I gave it to a young man who is enthusiastically launching into the project. We found the hint of a number, but can't be certain that it is accurate. It looks like it might be 32134 - 15 or 32534 - 15. The "34" is quite clear and the "1" of the "15" is quite clear, but the remainder are not certain. It is definitely a 14' canoe, non-tapered ribs, OTCA decks with coaming, OTCA-type sheer line, 2 1/4" ribs spaced about 1 3/4" apart. It was painted inside and out and we can find no hint of a decal. Any search of numbers that might turn up a match would be most helpful, although it will become a nice little canoe whether we can identify it or not.

Thanks for your help and ideas.
Well, I've been through all of the Old Town records in the 32x34, 82x34, and 132x34 ranges but didn't find any canoes less than 16 feet long. The Carleton numbers don't go this high and there doesn't appear to be a 15 foot Kennebec model that ends in 34 either. Can you attach some pictures of the serial numbers from each end? A 14 foot canoe is unusual and untapered ribs are not typically found in an Old Town with a five digit serial number. Yours may be from one of the Charles River builders which used a multi-part serial number. The messages at have some good pictures that may help you identify it by the style of font used to stamp the numbers.

Thanks Benson. Chuck (the young man who now owns the canoe) is now stripping the inside here beside my shop. I will try to get some photos and post them.


Chuck, the new owner, now has the nearly all of the paint off of the inside. He is now fairly certain that the number on the stem is: 37134 16. The "1" following the "7" is a bit uncertain and we can't explain the "16" as it is definitely a 14' canoe. Let me know if anything pops up.

This looks much more likely and a better match than any of the others in the 37x34 range. The Old Town canoe with serial number 37134 is an 16 foot long, CS (common sense or middle) grade, Otca model with open spruce gunwales, birch decks, birch thwarts, birch seats, and a keel. It was built between March and April, 1915. The original exterior paint color was dark green. It was shipped on May 10th, 1915 to Pittsburg, Penna.

A scan showing both of this build record is attached below. This scans and several hundred thousand others were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA) and others as you probably know well. A description of the project to preserve these records is available at if you want more details. I hope that the new owner will join or renew his membership to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See to learn more about the WCHA and to join.

I can't explain what happened to the missing two feet, maybe someone left it in the dryer too long. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions.



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