Unknown Courting Canoe


Help needed from the Courting Canoe Experts. The recently arrived canoe has a serial number stamped on the ribs just inside the long deck combings. Slightly off-set from center there are six stacked in pairs: 10 over 33 over 16. The die faces are hollow, only the outer edges, the outline of the numbers, are cut into the wood. The numbers are 3/8" high.

The canoe is 16' 1" LOA inc. outside stem. 32" wide. The outside stem is oval, 3/8" inside and outside faces, 3/4" deep and 9/16" wide. The cockpit is 33 1/3" long.

The rear paddling thwart is 5 3/4" wide, the front thwart 4 3/4" wide.

On the underside of the front thwart is pencil script: E followed by H followed by capital S or L or G, followed by three or four lower case letters that could be vowels.

The canoe does not appear to be extremely old. There are the expected rotten bow tips and various minor repairs badly done with steel screws. The wood itself including decks appears to be sound.

Any help identifying the builder and age would be very much appreciated. With the nice sweep of the mahogony decks it is going to be a pretty canoe.

courting canoe

Here are three photos of the courting canoe in question. In several of the references posted the number 33 showed up. Is that a chance numbering or does it mean the canoe is 33" wide? Actually about 32" out to out.

Thanks to all.

Courting canoe

I think that this craiglisting might shed some light on the S/N system on your canoe. The 33 appears to be the width of the canoe. Hope the photo comes thru but if not go to the craiglist for New Hampshire and do a search for the listing # in the ad.


escrow, or any promise of transaction protection/certification/guarantee. More info
Long Decked Courting Canoe (Brookline NH)

Date: 2010-04-17, 1:33PM EDT
Reply to: see below


Early courting canoe hull # A57-33-16 Length 16', Beam 33'', Decks 4' , Cockpit 64 3/4 ''. This canoe will be offered at auction may 16 at the Southern NH Antique Boat Auction. For info, pictures or to consign contact Gary Micahel 603-672-5246

•Location: Brookline NH
•it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

PostingID: 1696788651

No contact info? if the poster didn't include a phone number, email, or
other contact info, craigslist can notify them via email.

My experience is consistent with Fitz reply and the treads he provided - this is a Robertson. They were the only courting canoe builder I've seen that put serial numbers in the ribs so you didn't have to crawl under the decks to see it on the stems. I've had 2 of these and the 33 or 35 number did not correspond to the size of the canoe. It did match the year the original owners said they purchased the canoe. So my theory is that Robertson identified their canoes this way for a few years in the early 1930s. Looks like this will be a nice canoe and I hope to see it at Assembly some year.
Courting canoe

Thanks Ed and Ken for your replies. It is good that my canoe can be identified as a Robertson. Ed, your reference to the New Hampshire Craig's list was very useful. I guess not everybody respects things of beauty. Can you imagine letting a canoe like that lie upside down behind the shed for years? Ken I hope you can inspect my canoe or canoes someday but I am afraid the Assembly will have to held on the West Coast to make it happen.



Could you post some pics of your decks and cockpit for future reference? Looks like a great canoe!

One problem with the 30's Robertson theory is that it has tapered ribs. This suggests a Maine builder in my book.

Robert P. Ross
Ross Bros.
PO Box 60277
Florence, MA 01062



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Tapered Ribs

I have a Robertson stamped with the "33" with tapered ribs.


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Dear Fitz,

How is your canoe marked on the thwart, tag, or both? I saw yours in an earlier post but no reference to the builders mark.


Robert P. Ross
Ross Bros.
PO Box 60277
Florence, MA 01062


It is only marked on the thwart. Yeah, I know it could be the proverbial "livery stamp" if Robertson ever stamped other canoes for use in his livery, but the canoe has a local Charles River history and has the serial no. form and format above.

It has been a long time since I looked at the Robertson catalogue, but there is a model in there that matches nicely.
Robertson Courting Canoe

With the decks off the Robertson courting canoe the same numbers in the outline font, 10 33 16 are found at the inboard ends of both stems. Rather than stacked as on the ribs they are laid out in line.

The number system seems like Robertsons to me. I restored one that had the 1st and last set of numbers written under the canvas on the ouside planking. I figured that for factory use the only numbers they would not need would be the year. So I think it is likely that the 2nd set of numbers is the year it was built.
Kevin Martin

Digging into the Robertson Courting Canoe I was disappointed to find that most of the major fastenings were steel. Brass is only used in the keel and deck screws and the canoe tacks. Major fastenings like the thwart hangers, rib ends to inwales and deck framing are all steel.

By the condition of the wood I would guess that this canoe is relatively recent. I am wondering if other owners have observed more use of brass in older canoes and can conclude maybe Roberton switched to steel to save money toward the end of their operation.

Has anyone who has worked on Robertsons observed the type of fastenings used?

Hi R.C.

The Robertson’s I’ve encountered so far have all had steel nails fastening the ribs to the gunnels and the planking to the stems. However, the planking has been fastened to the ribs with either copper or brass tacks.

Best for now,
Dick Persson
Headwater Wooden Boat Shop
It sure would be nice to know who built the canoe. I'm finishing a torpedo up that had steel screws in all the same points as you've mentioned crosscuts. Searched through many posts and cannot come to a conclusion on the builder. One of it's fine points is the 1/4 sawn planking. I noticed on Andres long soak post, his has 1/4 sawn, so it must of been typical. Not sure if I can tell on yours. Most of my planking has a 4 nail pattern. My serial number was also pencilled in the deck framing. They are neat boats, like the tumble home.


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Yep, lots of steel around the gunwales and ribs, and copper tacks in mine.
Like the rolling work stand!
Were the pictures that Robert posted the same canoe? I just noticed how different the deck framing construction is to mine. Mine has 3 foot decks. I don't have a serial number like yours, or a idea of the builder. The span members notch into the top of the gunnel. The ones in Roberts picture seem to go between.


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Thanks to every one for your replies. Luckily the steel screws and nails were so rusty they either snapped off or were loose and came out with some effort.

jchu, if you are referring to the photos Robert Ross posted, yes, that is my canoe. The deck beams snug up to the inwales, not notched. There are short center stringers the full length of the deck, fore and aft that are nailed into the beams and notch into the internal breast hook. I have pulled it all apart but will try to post a photo to illustrate.

Andre, the rolling cart was built by a jet ski manufacturer. It is for a small jet ski. They have gotten bigger so this one was discarded. Just cradles were added for canoe work.

Welded mine up out of steel, handy for stripping and washing out tsp and brightener and the like. Nice canoe, my deck beams are notched, I'll throw up some pics when they are out. Yes, luckily the steel is largely dust and lets go really easily.