Spring Project


Tennessee Canoeist
Hi all,

I was visiting this forum back in 2007 when I first got this little boat. I learned a lot here then, and had planned to start the restoration that Summer, but an injury put me way behind on all my projects and this one has not been touched yet. I do plan to start on it between now and Spring, depending on how fast I can recover from a knee replacement surgery next month.

It is a Pete, with no apparent rotten wood. There are three cracked ribs just aft of the middle thwart, but otherwise very sound. I think the 97 year old man who gave it to me brought it with him when he moved to Tennessee from Maine during the mid 60s. I can only guess at it's age, and would like to determine the name of the design. It is a 15 footer, and not as wide abeam as my 13 foor Osprey. Surprisingly light, but I don't have a way to weigh it.

Any info or just comments appreciated.


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It is a nice horse, top notch cutting horse stock. The only thing he has to do with the canoe project is that I injured my knee in an unitentional dismount when the horse went to the right a little more abrupt than I could, but he didn't mean to hurt me, and after running around in a big circle he came over to nudge me like he was saying he was sorry. Anyway, I am getting a new knee next month, and will start on the canoe as soon as I am able to get around good.
Best of luck with the knee surgery. Having a canoe-project as a goal may aid in the healing process!

I have a bum left wrist due to a yearling filly who didn't want me to lead her away from her mom... when she snapped up her head and pulled away, she snapped my wrist too. It made for a season of painful paddling.

I find it interesting that in the early days of recreational canoeing, the builders had to convince the public that canoeing was safe... yet folks in those days were around horses. Not being negative about horses... it's just that they do have minds of their own, where canoes may only seem to.

New Neighbor across river

ACFULTS: Hello , I am a newbie neighbor of yours right across the river in Sale Creek , Possum cove area. .Our grand-children are in Maine.
. Today may be mid 50's temp & bright sun. Maybe some boat clean out.?
. Yes I know Birchwood is fine horse valley along Rt # 58, etc. I sort of have 4 wheel horse for woods after I kept falling off 2 wheel horse on slippery leaves down to cove.
.. Will have to see your canoes sometime. My friend runs the South KNoxville / Louisville antique boat show about the 2nd week of May . Have some album LINK pictures of my area if you wish to view, send me a P.Msg.
As I said in the opening post, I was on the forum two years ago when I first got this Peterborough. and got a lot of good information in replies to my questions. Yesterday, I did a quick search on my userid and was able to find those old threads, which tickled me because I didn't want to have to ask the same questions again, however I was too busy to take notes.

I had more time today, and came back hoping to make some notes, but the search does not return them today.

I wonder if part of the database, maybe the archived older threads is having some problem.

Any ideas ?

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Two years ago, I don't think I ever could come up with a manufacture date for my boat because of some problem with incomplete Peterborough records.

Does anyone have any information on this ?
Are there any serial numbers visible? Any dimensions?

You said it was 15 ft....if from 50s or 60s could be one of several Pete models such as:

The Minetta was produced by Peterborough from 1954 to 1961. It is 33" wide and 12" deep amidships. It weighs 65 pounds. With its narrow beam and fine entry lines, it is a dream to paddle. The Minetta would have Model #1815 in serial number.

I have a Minetta....and here are some pics of this and other Minettas (the first one is my Minetta, the second is Jim Davis's 1956 Minetta and the third is a Minetta from Mike Elliott's Kettle River Canoes website.



Image by Jim Davis.


Image by Mike Elliott

Other Pete choices could be:
Litelift 15 ft. length x 37 in. beam x 12 in. depth, weight 57 lbs., model #1449
Mattawa 15 ft. length x 35 in. width x 13 in. beam, weight 65 lbs., model #2175....the Mattawa had same specs as 15 ft. Peterborough Prospector only this model had narrow ribs

Also check out Dan Miller's Dragonfly Canoe Works Wood Canoe Identification website, specifically for Peterborough, http://www.dragonflycanoe.com/id/index.html

Hope that helps. And I apologize haven't yet got hang of posting pictures other than as I did here.
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Thanks Woody,

I think it may be a Minetta, or at least that name rings a bell. It does have a serial number, which may be in one of my old posts. I will dig back through them, and see. If don't find it, I'll crawl under her when I get home and find the number and measure the boat.

Thanks for the info and the link.

Did a quick read through the old posts and found where I made this statement;

"Thanks to Dan Miller and Doug Ingram, I now know it is a Minetta."

So, these two fine fellows must have helped me determine it was a Minetta two years ago, but I didn't find where I posted any measurements or serial numbers, so might have conversed outside of the forum.
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The plot thickens.

The measurements match those given for the Minetta, if I am measuring correctly.

Length is 15 foot.

Beam is 33 inches, but only if measured from the outside edges of the gunwales (outwales?). If measured from the outisde edges of hull, the beam is closer to 31".

Depth is 12 inches measured from the top surface of the center thwart. It is 13" if measured from top surface of the gunwales.

Ribs are only 1 1/2" wide, which seems narrow to me.

The number stamped into the stem is C 10571

That number is the mysterious part, as it does not resemble any of the model numbers you provided.
I am wondering if the "C" indicates the boat is a Chestnut that was sold as a Peterborough.

For some reason this seems familiar, like it may have been something told to me before.

So, I am looking for the information Dan Miller and Doug Ingram provided me two years ago that convinced me it was a Minetta.

I usually keep a written record of things like that, and probably did, but if so, it may be forever lost amongst the other flotsam adrift in my pond.

I hope they don't mind a forgetful old man asking the same questions again.

Went to the Dan Miller Dragonfly website, and think the boat surely is a Chestnut sold as a Peterborough. I am thinking the Chestnut models closest to what I measured are the Twoser or Gooseberry. The table does not list rib width for these two models, but there is a weight difference between 1956 and 1957 for the Gooseberry that might be relevant to narrow versus wider ribs. Just guessing though.

I don't know what the rib size is on the Peterborough Minetta, but otherwise this appears to be the most likely model my boat would have been sold as.
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acfults, check out the numbers again if you can....I was looking at another canoe before buying the one I did....I asked for help identifying it here (see http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?t=50000)....here's part of that:

My input: Based on info I have from email from seller about canoe (already noted above): MODEL # C4649....THEN T 815 or 1815....hard to make out.....overall dimentions are 31.25 x 15 ft. x 13.5 deep...appears to be 15 ft not 16 ft as advertised....and wondering if not Minetta model (model #1815 from Dragonfly list????)....but dimensions seem wrong????....so still puzzled

From Dan Miller: Fairly typical "Peternut". 1815 suggests Peterborough Minetta (dimensions are fine), the
"C" prefix was common on Chestnut canoes, so probably (like many others) built by Chestnut and branded Peterborough (if it is even marked). Narrow ribs make it (most likely) a Doe model...

BTW, here is pic of numbers stamped in canoe:


Chestnut and Peterborough formed Canadian Watercraft Limited (a mutual holding company, later to include Canadian Canoe Company) in 1920s....most of the canvas canoes apparently were made by Chestnut (some were still built by Peterborough and Canadian companies, although Peteborough seems to have concentrated on all-wood construction as did Canadian....according to Roger MacGregor's When The Chestnut Was In Flower: "much of the millwork - resawing, planing and moulding of the parts for the canoes and runabouts - could be done much more econmically for the two local canoe factories at the big mill run by Peterborough Canoe Co. The York Street factory of Chestnut Canoe Co. could best be used to maximize capacity to produce its specialty - canvas-covered canoes - for itself and for the "branches" at Peterborough Canoe Co. and Canadian Canoe Co.")....and stamped with whatever decals for the company the canoe was being sold as....given the lack of records at Chestnut....and that Peterborough seems to have kept such records....it seems numbers with "C" might indicate made by Chestnut....and then had numbers for appropriate model also stamped onto....but others here might have more info on this
The first set of numbers in your picture are stamped very clear and crisp, just like the numbers in my boat. I notice this one is a digit shy of the one in my boat, but don't know if that means anything. The second set of numbers is stamped shallow, and faint. Maybe the first was stamped at the Chestnut factory and the second at the Peterborough factory.

The stem on my boat is in great shape, shiny
and clean. I looked at it pretty close last night with a bright light, but as faint as that second set appears in your picture, it is still possible I failed to see a second set on my boat. I will look again tonight.

An accurate identification is something I am interested in mainly out of curiosity, but also because people always ask "How old is it ?" whenever I take something like this out in public, and I would rather have something close to true to tell them. If that truth turns out to be elusive, both me, and any inquisitive strangers at the launch site, will have to settle for best guess.
Best bet and closest ID of exact model seems still seems to be Minetta....not sure what to add regarding stamped numbers or lack thereof....not sure if "C" stamped sequence done at Chestnut or at Peterborough....but I'm thinking likely Peterborough....lack of specific model number very possible given that more than just a few canoes (especially from Canadian firms?!?!?) seemed to be missing this ID when others have....likely result of just lacksadaisal effort on part of whoever was responsible (if anybody at all)

Looked again, there is not a second set of numbers on the stem. I may have to settle for calling it a PeterNut MinettaChumberry.

Since you still think Minetta is the most likely Perterborough model for the boat, I am assuming the Minetta has 1 1/2" ribs. Is this correct ?

Speaking of ribs, I will need to replace a couple in the mid section of the boat, and one of the short ribs in the bow. Problem I have is in finding any Northern White Cedar available near where I live (Tennessee).

I can order form a supplier up in the North woods, or find a substitute.

I usually like to select my own wood for any project, but will have to rely on a stranger's judgement if I order the wood.

Considering the option is to use a substitute wood. I have read some of the other threads on this site discussing the qualities of various woods, and notice that ash, walnut, white oak, and even Douglas fir are mentioned for things such as gunwales, and ribs for skin on frame boats. I don't think fir would be a good choice at all for bending canoe ribs, but I know ash or white oak bend well. The Norther white cedar has better resistance to rot, as do most cedar species, than any of those woods, but am not sure how much that will matter in a boat I indtend to store indoors.

I do have local access to Eastern and Western Red cedars, as well as Cypress which is also a cedar. These have the rot resistance, but I haven't tried bending any of them.

I would appreciate any recommendations, either as to a substitute wood, or a good source for obtaining the more appropriate Northern wood.
Use only white cedar for ribs, just contact some canoe builders who can mill and ship you some ribs in a 4' tube, to be finished off in the correct edge profile and length by you. Ditto the planking unless you need to replace half of it or more. Doubtless you could trust their selection of stock; heck I'll send you some but likely postage is cheaper from a US source. Not to be blunt but if there was a better wood for ribstock it would have been found in the last 100+ years. You could go through a lot of wood and wasted effort to determine this for yourself though... I would recommend staying with the same woods throughout, shipping the stuff not available locally in already milled form wouldnt be that large a cost in the end as long as its not gunwale stock. There you could stay stock or use ash, cherry, mahogany, or spruce for example. Hope that helps.
Thanks for the advice.

While I often consider various options for a project, I usually end up using the right stuff in the end, and I would really rather have the NWC, even if one of the other woods would work okay, if for no other reason that it is what should be used.

I just visited the Northwoods Canoe website, and they list rib stock, so unless someone has another recommendation of a source, I'll probably give them a call soon.

Now, please forgive me for rambling, and if you don't like long winded stories, you should probably stop right here, but the topic of canoe builders, particularly the lack of them in the South, has been something I have often pondered.

I am surrounded by all sorts of water, from beautiful mountain streams, to large lakes and rivers, but you just don't see a lot of canoes around here.

I known of only two canoe "builders" in Tennessee.

One, long out of business, was a company that specialized in making fiberglass pools, and church products. Their line of canoes were chopper gun nightmares, that seemed to weigh as much as a GMC. In the late 70s, I bought a used 17' version of one of these monsters as a replacement for a little 13' wood and canvas boat I had let go of when I was still a kid.

It was real cheap, and I thought I had a great bargain.

I later ended up giving the darn thing away to some guy who happened to be standing near a boat ramp, so I guess I learned why.

The only other canoe builder I know of in my area is the Merrimack Canoe Company over in Crossville. I have owned one of their 13' boats for 26 years, and will keep it until one of us falls the rest of the way apart. It is a fiberglass canoe, but these are the only fiberglass conoes I have ever seen that look like a real canoe. They are hand laid hulls on a wooden frame, with Cherry ribs, mahogany decks, and ash gunwales and thwarts. I think the modern version may use Kevlar instead of fiberglass, but they are very pretty, and very light weight. Mine is light enough one person can carry it a long way without a problem. This little boat was a much more appropriate replacement for the 13' WC canoe I had growing up, and I have used it enough that my 4 wt flyrod has made it's mark across the gunwales.

Interesting, to me anyway, is the fact they have roots in the North, as I think the company originated in Maine. A place where I expect chopper gun fiberglass canoes would likely not be allowed to exist, and evidently even well made, beautiful fiberglass canoes can't compete, since the company pulled up and moved South many years ago.
The Rodent I think

Interesting question. BTW you'll be glad you got your ribstock from Northwood. I think the answer to your question as to why there are no southern canoe builders--- the Beaver. And the fur trade. And, the raw materials to create the vehicles of conveyance--- were all in the North. Also, consider the population centers of the fur trade era-North. I time sporting use of the canoe would have allowed a southern migration and so now, synthetic canoe bulders can be found in the South, perhaps because the labor force is less expensive. But if it wasn't for the Beaver. Down south I suspect the cypress dugout reigned just llike the bb in the North. Geography, and the rodent.