What's the nicest paddling wood/canvas canoe?


My son and I just returned from a short paddle in our Morris. A few weeks ago we were out in his Atkinson Traveler. We also paddle a White and a couple Old Towns. I have paddled and own an Indian Girl., a Carleton and previously owned a Kennebec.
As we were paddling it occurred to me that none of my boats seem to paddle as nicely as the Traveller. It tracks like radar and seems to cruise without effort.
Every other boat I own has it's unique charm and "ride". The Morris and Rushton seem to be next in line for paddling pleasure.
I'm wondering, what do other folks think? What's the nicest paddling wood/wood/canvas canoe you have paddled/owned? Forget aesthetics, I'm curious about the ride.
I really like my Boreal for a tandem, and my Red Fox for solo.

OK, so I'm biased towards canoes that I've built myself, but I really, really, do like them. I've paddled a lot of different canoes, and I'm pretty picky.

And that's all I'll say about that due to the high risk of coming across as self promoting (I'm not).

The AT does have a nice ride, but its just a teeny bit soft in the chine for my taste, and its a little big for style paddling, though it does it well enough.
My answer would have to depend on the circumstances and conditions. I will also admit to some bias toward canoes from the Old Town Canoe Company. An 18 foot long Otca with two sails is very pleasurable on a windy day with some open water but this is probably not technically considered paddling. One of my nicest paddling experiences this year was in a birch bark canoe made by the Penobscot Indians in Old Town, Maine. This canoe from the Penobscot Marine Museum has a wonderful ride and unique feel with a great combination of tracking and turning ability.

This seems like a very open question, as where you are paddling, ie, what kind of water, flat, moving, whitewater, and whether it is solo or tandom and loaded with gear or unloaded and finally skill level all have a big effect on it.

FWTW, years ago my wife and I test paddled a Traveler, for us, it was way to tippy, and "seemed"? a bit small. Though we didn't spend much time in it, and I never got comfortable as I felt I had to kneel to keep it upright.

The canoe we are most comfortable in is our '58 Seliga, but that's because it's a large canoe, it's not the most responsive canoe though.

Owning a Fleet

When I consider the fifteen canoes we now own and which I could "do without" and which "are keepers", it's impossible to narrow it down even to two or three. With some, it's "the purpose" that makes the canoe "a keeper"-- with others, it's "the history"--- including the history the canoe has with us. And some of the canoes that "are keepers" are unrestored and have yet to be paddled!
Douglas Ingram said:
The AT does have a nice ride, its a little big for style paddling, though it does it well enough.
I guess I should have been a bit more specific. At the risk of offending, I personally consider "style" paddling to be akin to parlor tricks for canoes so I would never even have thought of that as a measure of a canoes "goodness". :D
tough question

Or is it a trick question? There are so many different canoes and each has its own purpose.
I like two. My 18' OT HW for tandem. And any 15' OT trapper/50 pounder/lightweight for solo play. But I am sure there are many more.

How about the alternate question?
which canoe is the worst?
Any body know of a bruisewater?
Yes, but which one do you paddle?

Kathryn Klos said:
When I consider the fifteen canoes we now own

The question is really not which ones to do without or how to narrow down the pile. We all have a pile and a few unrestored boats in que. The question is, when you paddle the boats you own (that float) does any one of them stand out as a simply nice paddling ride? For example, my 20 foot Stellmock/White paddles like a tank compared to my Morris. But the Morris seems to need a harder pull at the paddles to cruise than say our AT. With 15 boats, you are in a perfect position to comment. There must be one canoe that you take off the rack more often. Which one is it? Why? Forget the cosmetics or uniqueness.

tHE answer would be the lightest canoe in the fleet. We tend to paddle the lightest canoe more because of how it handles out of the water. For me that will soon be a Penn Yan Hunter 15'. Canvassed and filled today.
I agree with Dave,

The canoe that is the easist to load and unload will be used more.
That Seliga I mentioned is 92 lbs, (and yes, I can throw it up on my shoulders, but only a few times a day.) the stripper that's in process hopefully will be about 54, I'm betting we use that more once it's done.


Of our fifteen canoes, only one is fully restored... so that's the one that's paddled! However, we "know" that the fifteen foot Detroit will be one of our favorites, for reasons others have stated here: it will be a lightweight canoe, smaller and therefore easier to load than most of the others. It has nice lines, too. It never had a keel, and we imagine it will be fun to paddle on the river that runs in front of my house.

Our only "finished" canoe is a Kennebec Ketahdin I bought from Dave McDaniel (seen on the WCHA video twice-- the red one). It's very nice, and can be paddled solo (although it's a seventeen footer)... but I couldn't handle it alone outside the water.

I fantasize about our twelve foot Morris. It's a bit of a tub, but I might be able to walk it to the river all by myself. It needs some work before it sees the water... paddles great in my imagination though. Denis and I have four Morrises and have yet to paddle one!

We had the honor of paddling the birch bark that Ferdy Goode recently completed. A very responsive solo craft... like paddling a leaf-- yet the canoe was actually fairly heavy and quite substantial-- not at all fragile. Of all that I have personally paddled in the real world, that would be my favorite canoe.


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