serial number help for #17990

Canoe paddler

Curious about Wooden Canoes
I just purchased this 17' canoe. 5 broken ribs, missing seats, & needs canvas, but no rotten wood. I was told on an earier thread that it could be an Old Town, Carleton, or Kennebec. The canoe does have diamond bolts holding the thwarts in place & "ghosts" of the diamond bolts where the seat were located. The canoe has open gunwales. I can not see anything left of a decal on the bow deck, but the varnish is mostly gone. The serial number is stamped on the bow & stern stem with a space & then 17. The decks are 20" long & have a small pc. of wood bent around the inside edge that is just proud of the deck surface & fit into the inner gunwale. At one time the canoe appears to have had a center thwart. Its missing now but there are 2 screws going from the inner gunwale into the out gunwale on both sides of the canoe & a bolt hole through the inner gunwale, but this does not have a "goast" of a diamond bolt, so perhaps this missing center thwart was not original. Any help in identifying this canoe is greatly appreciated.


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The canoe in your pictures doesn't look like any of the Old Town, Carleton, or Kennebec canoes with serial number 17990. My guess is that you have the Old Town canoe with serial number 117990. This is a 17 foot long, CS (Common Sense or middle) grade, Otca model with red western cedar planking, open spruce gunwales, twenty inch ash decks, ash thwarts, and a keel. It was built between June and July, 1936. The original exterior paint color was dark green. It was shipped on June 4th, 1937 to Binghamton, New York. A scan showing this build record can be found by following the link at the attached thumbnail image below.

This scan and several hundred thousand others were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA) and others. A description of the project to preserve these records is available at if you want more details. I hope that you will join or renew your membership to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See to learn more about the WCHA and to join.

It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description don't match the canoe. Middle thwarts were optional at this time and yours may not have had one originally. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions.



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Tomorrow I will look closely at the stem bands to see if there is another 1 in the beginning of the serial number. I am a member of WCHA & am looking forward to the assembly at the end of the month.
Benson, you are correct the actual serial number is #117990. The first #1 on both the bow & stern are barely visible, perhaps because the 20" deck made it difficult to strike the first #1 hard enough to deeply mark the stem. Thanks so much for your help.