What is it?


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I just picked up a 16' project canoe. There is a stamp on the inner surface of the forward stem that reads "4248 J.E. BACON", the aft stem has a stamp that reads only "J.E. BACON. I'll post pictures soon. Any help identifying this boat would be greatly appreciated. She looks like my grandparents Old Town buts it's been many years since I've seen that old boat!
This one may remain a mystery. The Old Town canoe with this serial number is 17 feet long. There are no records for a Carleton with this number and Kennebec appears to have never used this number. The list of Maine builders at http://www.wcha.org/history/maine-list.htm shows a Timothy Bacon who built canoes at Grand Lake Stream from the 1930s-1960s so it may be related to him.

Could be 17'

[/IMG]I'll measure it again but I think it is 16'. The guy who gave it to me claimed it was a circa 1950 Old Town...
The J.E. BACON stamp on the other end is much more legible but no numbers. I would have guessed a home built canoe except for the numbers...
There appears to be at least one additional digit to the left of the four under the slotted screw and there should be a length in feet stamped on the right end that is not shown in this picture. Straight ribs are also a common sign of an early or home made canoe. More pictures and dimensions may help.

'll take another look tonight. I thought there was another number under the screw but looked at it with a magnifing glass so don't think it is one...Here are a few more shots of the overall canoe...
I'm wondering if the "J E BACON" was burned in, like with a branding iron? The letters are black inside. I thought maybe it's just dirt, but then the serial number digits aren't black at all -- they're stamped, not burned?

Just speculating.
My experience has been that digital pictures can bring out numbers better than a magnifying glass and the naked eye... I'm reading 14243. And I agree that the name and s/n don't "match".
After closely studying, it's definitely 4248, possibly starting with a 1. It's too obscured to say for sure but I really think it's a dent that looks like a 1. I just found 248 at the other end with the 4 obscured by a screw/washer that was obviously added later. The numbers look to be stamped individually with a machinist's stamp. It does say J.E. BACON at each end. The J.E. BACON is a different style stamp than the numbers, deeper, each letter formed individually judging by the varying depths. It does look like it could have been burned.

There only seems to be one coat of varnish on the interior. It looks like the varnish was applied after the numbers but the name might have gone on over the varnish which would indicate an owner added his name. Tough spot to burn your name in, especially in the stern with the seat in place....

Love to know it's story!:confused:

The canoe measures 16' 1" long. It's been fiberglassed with a single thin layer.

That is indeed a Norton Commando, 1975 Electric Start, Roadster tank. The other is a 1970 BSA 650 Lightening. Out of site are a 1973 Penton Six Days 125, 1978 Bultaco Sherpa-T 350, 1969 Bultaco Matador 250, and 1978 Montesa 348 COTA. Yes, I'm a glutton for punishment....I can't resist cool stuff that needs constant attention!
The Old Town with serial number 14248 is a 16 foot long, AA grade, Charles River model from 1910 with open mahogany gunwales, all mahogany trim, and a floor rack. The Carleton with this number is a 16 foot long, regular grade, Carleton model from 1920 with open spruce gunwales, and birch trim. The Kennebec canoe with this number is 17 feet long. Do the inside gunwales extend to the tips of the deck or do they stop short like the ones shown at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/meramec/deck.jpg for example?



  • 14248.gif
    97.8 KB · Views: 245
  • c-14248.gif
    21 KB · Views: 233
  • c-14248-b.gif
    10.5 KB · Views: 244
Last edited:
It has mahogany decks and gunwales. Here are some more pictures. Are there any other characteristic features that I can take a picture of? Thanks!


My guess is that you have the Old Town from 1910. Check for signs of the small rectangular blocks with toggles that held in the floor rack or the screw holes where they were mounted along the center of the canoe. See the picture at http://forums.wcha.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=322&d=1113270423 if you are not sure what to look for. These blocks were usually in the area under the thwarts on a 16 foot canoe.

Last edited:
Charles River

I have a similar vintage AA Grade Charles River (1914) and the ribs are not tapered. I'd go with the 1910 as Benson points out. I like the way they paddle too.
I see them, it must be the 1910...too cool! This is very exciting! Thanks for your help!!

My grandparents had a very similar canoe that we paddled on the Moosup River in CT when I was a kid. We loved that boat but it's been gone for years, given away when my grandfather died in 1976. They fiberglassed it back in the mid sixties and it took two strong men to carry it. Great vessel for two brothers, we'd go off for hours in it when we were between 9-13 years old. No life jackets, sunscreen or adult supervision. Take a swim when it got too hot, no water bottles to keep us hydrated (maybe a couple of warm sodas) - not a care in the world!:)
Nice canoe, and nice bikes too.

I also had a '75 Commando, but with the red,white and blue paint job, and also wish I had it back. It was a fun ride.