What is the total number of wooden canoes that were made and how many still exist?

Benson Gray

Canoe History Enthusiast
Staff member
I am occasionally asked "What is the total number of wooden canoes that were made and how many still exist?" but I've never had a good answer. Kathy's recent article in the Wooden Canoe Journal mentioned that there are a total of 335 Morris canoes in her database. This gave me an idea of how to come up with a better answer to the original questions as shown in the table below.

There are some records from the Old Town Canoe Company which indicate that the highest Morris serial number may be 17262. Kathy's total divided by this total produces a nearly 2% survival rate. It appears that Kathy has been building this database since around 2007. She will clearly find more over time but this gives a place to start. The Old Town, Carleton, and Kennebec records provide similar information about the total number of their canoes that were made. I have been answering build record requests for this information since 1996 and 2007 respectively so I have some similar survival rate numbers. The overall survival rate is also avout 2% based on this data.

There was a project many years ago to create a database listing all of the WCHA's members' canoes. The chart at http://forums.wcha.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=29887&d=1412107592 shows the distribution of the manufacturers in that collection of 1744 canoes. If we assume that this is a representative sample of the entire universe of wood canoes then it offers a chance to make some very rough estimates of the totals for the major builders as shown in the last column.

The bottom row shows that these totals divided by the 45% market share they represent produces an estimate that slightly less than half a million wood canoes were produced and that over eleven thousand of them may still exist today. Dan Miller has sent me his Rushton information, Dan Lindberg provided the Seliga, Pat Chapman provided the Willits, and I know that other people have been keeping records for additional manufacturers so it would be great if you can provide you own totals to further refine this information. Thanks,


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I wasn't trying to scold you for posting an ad on the forum....
Lots of craigslist and EBay ads are posted...gets the word out!
Just thought it was odd that it was posted on this thread concerning the total number of wood canvas canoes that were produced and still exist. That's why I made the comment.
Seems that it should have been posted under a topic of Miscellaneous or Open Forum, or Wood Canvas Canoes....
I've been meaning to get back to this thread (thanks, Benson, for working on this). One of the "Morris questions" has to do with the canoes Bert Morris was building in the 1930s. Given the fact that such a small percentage of the wood/canvas canoes by any builder still exist, it's possible none-- or only a handful-- of Bert's later canoes are around today. Some surprises still come out of hiding from time to time, however.