restorating peterborough


Naval Architect, Stud
First post here so: Hi!

Since last september I am restoring a peterborough 16ft wooden/canvas canoe. I thin the model is a rideau, SN: 1433-2977. It's was my grand's father wedding gift to my grand'ma.

The canoe was victim of vandals long times ago and repair without knowledge and good technical bases.

I wanted to keep the restoration technics most 'traditional/original' that I was able to do as far as my knowledge and equipment permit it. It's my first restoration so I have to face many problems and questions.

I hope apply canvas this week. I read that filler must dry 3 weeks!

So here the canoe. I will post some uptades(and questions) as soon as possible.
chalet 006.jpg

chalet 012.jpg

canot 029.jpg

Good Night.
Hi Louis;
Not going to attempt to give you any advice on your restoration process becasue I do not have that much experience myself. I hope that others will join in and help you solve your problems as they arise. My only suggestion is that if you have not alredy purchased some good reading material that you consider doing this. I have purchased both books written by ROLLIN THURLOW and JERRY STELMOK and they give step by step instructions that are easy to follow and have included pictures and diagrams..Sometimes one picture is worth a thousand words!...Good luck...It looks like you have a great start in the right direction.
"Life is not determined by how many strokes of the paddle it takes, but rather in the JOY of the journey" .....(Blue Viking)

Welcome to the WCHA Forums. You have found a great group of people and plenty of expertise right at your fingertips. If you haven't joined WCHA yet. please consider doing so.

Is it just the camera angle or an optical illusion or does the boat have that much rocker? That shot with the car in it makes the canoe look like a banana!:rolleyes:

Good luck with the restoration and keep us informed on your progress.

If you have a bit of Hemmingway in you, the boats family history and your efforts to restore it would make a great story for Wooden Canoe.
MikeCav: You're right, I will consider to join the group. It's not an illusion, The canoe looked like a banana! If you look at the first picture, you'll notice that the gunwales are brokens (probably because of the yoke who is broken too) but the banana effect is surely amplified because the ground is not flat.

I had a lot of difficulty to install the new gunwale. I was not able to give it the right bending angle. I think I must trim the stern hight :( . By the way, What is the wood normaly used to make a good gunwale and stern? My source indicated me the B.C.Fir but now I think that was a bad choise.

thanks for support
fixing top frames.

This canoe have many top frames rot or completly gone. I don't want to make too much new by lack of time and money(who is a important factor: I have 1000$ Can. to put on this project).

Also I don't want to use epoxy, or very very rarely because first I want most a traditional restoration and second Epoxy on top frames can cause futurs problems of moisture/rot if it's use not correctly. So I made some test with quickwood, a base epoxy putty to fix some and I will remplace the other by a other wood part. Here somes pics:
1: it's before
2-3-4: a test. Only quickwood to repair the frame. I boil it 4 hours, let it in water all night and put it oven at 250F. Quickwood resist but made cedar to crack.
5: the result on the canoe.

There are a number of ways to repair rib ends. Here is an alternative to using formed epoxy putty:

Scarf new cedar on to the top of the rib. that way you have a natural looking rib top that can be stained to match.

You may not be aware of the search feature on this website (4th button from the right on the toolbar above) Type in your search terms and have fun!

To get you started, here is one of the threads on this topic. I posted some pictures of a boat I'm working on that had some pretty bac rib top problems.

Have fun!

Ce n'est pas trop mal!

It looks a bit like a Peterborough high end Champlain model, or an Otonabee if the trim is Mahogany. Any other dimensions available?

Fir makes an excellent inner gunnel, and is more available in good grades and length, and less expensive, than Spruce. If you can get Spruce, great!

Scarph some new cedar ends onto the ribs for a good job, one that you'll be happy with for a long time. It actually pretty easy to do once you set yourself up to the task. Don't skimp of the epoxy or you'll starve the joint.
Ijust checked my 1955 Peterborough catalog. The 1433 serial number sounded familiar. It should, I also have a 1433 "Otonabee" model canoe. This is the top of the line that Peterborough offerred. Its basically a high end Champlain model with all Mahogany trim. There would also be outside stems, which would be trimmed so that they blend in with the keel.

To get the bend of the gunnels for the sheer, you need to steam them. Alternately, you can clamp them to a bending form and apply boiling water over them and slowly clamp them into position. You should let them set for a week or more for the wood to really hold its new bend without too much springback. This model has a lot of curve in the sheer.

If you want it to be completely authentic, use all mahogany for your inner and outer gunnels, the decks, seats and thwart. The thwart is NOT placed at center, but about 10-12" behind center, towards the stern. This is to allow the genteel passenger to sit in center while the stern is paddling. For portaging, paddles strapped to the thwart would be used. I can supply a tracing of the center thwart if you need.

Originally, the canoe would only have been available in red or green.

I should add that this is a VERY fast canoe.
Here are a couple of photos. One is a scan of the Otonabee from the catalog, the other is of my Otonabee, not quite to spec. but close. It was one of my early restorations and I didn't know then what I know now.


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Wow! so much great infos. Thanks a lot. A tracing of the thwart would be very appreciate, thanks.

Unfortunatly, I can't find mahogany affordable. I have a very strict budjet so I must use my BC Fir. The seats are originals.

I noticed all your greats comments. I will give you somes news in the next days. I got a lot of workd theses days.

Well it turns out Louis C. is in my area, so I dropped by his shop. Nice canoe!! And the restoration is coming along nicely, it was canvased and they were getting ready to apply the filler. Louis will, very generously, allow me to take off the lines of the canoe once the filler is dry. I will be using the "Jogglestick" method:

This is first time I can examine a Peterborough/Chestnut Pleasure type canoe closely. The hull shape is very different from the Bastiens, Picards and Chestnut Prospectors I'm used to. The Otonabee has a very shallow arch bottom and very tight turn of bilge in the mid-section. In the quarters, it's really a shallow "V" with almost a knuckle-chine high up. I'm used to "U" shaped quarters will a low chine. Also, the rocker on this canoe is gradual from the middle to the ends, compared to rocker that is located in the last 3' on my canoes.

All this to say that I'm very pleased for the opportunity to study an Otonabee and can't wait to see how this hull shape translates in behavior compared to what I'm used to.


Louis Michaud
Rimouski, Quebec

The Otonabee is very fast, and nicely manouverable. The high ends keep the waves out nicely. I've had mine out in pretty good size waves (enough for a a few whitecaps) and it handles that very well, depending upon the skill of the crew.

Its width makes it a bit tender for paddlers not too comfortable with narrower canoes. I'd strongly suggest putting the seats lower than original. Tops of seat frames 10-11" above the floor is a good height.

It paddles "Style paddling" very well.

I'm pretty sure that the "high-end" Champlain is the same canoe design as the Otonabee, but I haven't been able to compare side by side. Bear Mountain sells plans for the high end Champlain.