W.W. Sherman?


LOVES Wooden Canoes
I don't have the builder tag in front of me, but I believe the company was W.W. Sherman Super Boats, out of Milwaukee, WI.

Did a quick search through the forum archives here, found nothing with Sherman in the name. Though it seems to use quality woods, some of the construction methods are less than stellar. The gunwales are butt-joined, and the outside is fiberglass (possibly originally?)

Still, the price was right and it seems seaworthy so I bought it last summer off somebody's front lawn to paddle around for fun.
Anybody heard of it?


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I went and looked at the brass tag today, and in fact it says Special Boats, not Super Boats.

Not that Sherman's name seems to be jogging anyone's memory, unfortunately.
I haven't heard of Sherman Canoes, but it looks like a nice canoe... how about a profile shot? Looks like a hand-caned seat... which may indicate a canoe built prior to the use of fiberglass... so the glass may not be original.

Some nice canoes came out of Wisconsin... which is, after all, the birthplace of the WCHA!

Thanks Kathy,

Yeah, it has nice enough lines. Good tip on the caned seats, I'll take a closer look. No profile shot right now, it's tucked away in our condo building's cavernous boiler room: a dry, constant 75 degrees down there and dark as hell.

I hate the yellow, and will likely be sanding it smooth and painting it this spring to something closer to our tastes (grayish green, perhaps). I'll post photos when it's out of the cave.
Kathy, I think you're right about the seats. Looking at another photo from last summer it seems they were definitely done by hand.


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I am having a Sherman restored. It looks different to yours, but related. Mine is 15' and has decks. It is time to pick a color. I'd like to pick something original to the maker, but haven't found much on Shermans. Mine was red (a very faded red) of light fiberglass. Not sure if fiberglass was original. The thread says yours is yellow? Could I trouble you for a picture?


Hey Joe -

Sold the canoe, but found these shots. Appropriately enough, they were taken during the Des Plaines River Canoe Marathon. These days it's mostly plastic kayaks and fiberglass canoes... but I had one of the very few wood/canvas canoes there that year and it was a blast.

Ralph Frese, founder of this particular marathon which has taken place for more than 50 years here, north of Chicago, helped us launch that day, and seemed genuinely happy to see us with an older boat. He passed away this past weekend.

Mine is in the first two photos, and I believe the yellow was an overpaint... one of many actually. Felt like it had about 30 coats of paint on it, along with a much thicker material than canvas... perhaps a heavy dacron or something. Good luck with your resto, and don't forget to show some before/after photos... we love photos around here, especially during the winter months! ;)



Thank you, Brad, those pictures are very helpful. It is good that you had contact with Ralph Frese. I only shared an email or two with him, but from everything I have read and seen, it seems like he achieved the elusive "life well led." If you ever hear of that Sherman coming back up for sale, please let me know. I will definitely post pictures of my Sherman. Dave Osborn is restoring it and I hope to get it in a month or two. Thanks again, Joe

One more question, please. Dave O. has discovered that the seats, thwarts, decks are walnut, which is cool. It looks like the outwale is mahogany and an add-on. (Not to mention rotten.) I am trying to go as original as possible. Are your gunwales (and other pieces) walnut?


Hey Joe,

I'm not great at wood species identification, and didn't pay close attention when we owned it (I'd bought it at the end of someone's driveway just a few blocks away).
The photos above - in larger format - are all I have left. I'll include a couple links to the larger versions of the same photos - maybe it'll be possible to decipher the decks and seats that way.


The thwarts look too blurry I think to be certain. You'll notice my inwales and outwales weren't even scarf jointed, but rather ugly butt joints. It didn't look like they were replacements, so I suspect this shop just wasn't turning out Rushton-quality boats, up there in Milwaukee. ;)

I forgot to mention - your canoe is in great hands with Dave, by the way!

Good luck~
Thanks. Those pictures really help. It looks like the inwale on mine is one piece, but, you're right, even so, the Shermans are not the sleekest canoe on the water. I'm after one from each WI maker, so I have to take what I can get sometimes. WI beer aids perception in such cases.


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I am posting a picture of the restored W.W. Sherman. Thanks to Dave Osborn for the excellent restoration. Please post any information regarding W.W. Shermans that you may find. I heard there's another one out there. If anyone knows its location, I would be interested in finding that out. Thanks, Joe.


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Interestingly, this canoe is the only one I've ever seen trimmed in walnut. I built book-matched walnut decks for it, bent new walnut outer stems and outwales.