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Curious about Wooden Canoes
Just getting the urge to buy a wood/canvas canoe. I don't have a lot of experience with canoes but I can handle my OT Camper. Most of my paddling is on rivers and lakes here in Michigan, often with my wife and daughter. I am looking for a good all purpose boat easy to handle with two or on my own. Stable enough to fish from. Suggestions for a good boat to start with?
Wood/canvas canoes appeal to the individual's aesthetic sense, as well as being useful and fun.... it's a matter of individual taste. I can tell you what I like, but it might not be what you'd find appealing-- as with cars, houses and furniture, tastes vary.

If you look at the "classifieds" section on the main page of the website, there may be some canoe-types that appeal to you and you could come back to this place and ask about them. But I'll give you my 2 cents:

A sixteen footer is a nice size, when a family is involved. You can paddle it alone or with two and have another person or two in the middle, and if they are little folks, you can work in a dog and some gear too. A sixteen footer isn't so big and unwieldy that it's difficult to put on and off the car.

Denis and I moved three of our canoes last night (the person storing them for us needed some garage space). Two of the canoes are eighteens and one is a sixteen... and we renewed our pledge of "no more eighteen footers"... not for just the two of us. (Well, unless it was something that really got my heart going pitty-pat). Anyway, the sixteen footer was a breeze to load and unload.

For paddling lakes and rivers in Michigan, anything that appeals to you aesthetically would probably suit your purposes. We have older canoes--- the kind that are called "antique" but only a few are 100 years old or more. We choose them for the way they grab us emotionally as much as anything else.

There are two Michigan WCHA chapters. We are in the Upper Peninsula-- if you're nearby, you're welcome stop over for a tour of our canoes. I'm sure Russ Hicks in lower Michigan would do the same.

I would second Kathy's recommendation. I'd look for a two thwart sixteen footer. The beauty of this arrangement is that you can paddle it solo by sitting backwards in the bow seat. Sixteen feet seems to be an ideal size. A fifteen footer is generally slower and doesn't handle as well. A sixteen footer can handle two adults and gear or two adults and assorted children and dogs. At the same time it's a nice solo canoe. Most 17 footers have a thwart right behind the bow seat making it awkward to sit backwards in the bow seat.

Forgot to mention that Stelmok and Thurlow's The Wood and Canvas Canoe which is mentioned here a lot for canoe builders and restorers, is also an excellent source for the history of the early builders and canoe companies.

I think an 18 foot Old Town Guide makes a great all purpose canoe. Good laker and fishing platform. Good for families. Wouldn't be my first choice for solo canoe, but I do paddle it solo a lot.
Okay, I'll weigh in as a supporter of the 17' canoe! True a 16' is easier to manage than a larger one (a single foot's-worth of canoe is a lot of material). And an 18' canoe is great for tripping. But to me, a 17' model is often a great compromise, and I personally prefer the lines of many 17' models. The longer ones just seem to huge (to me), while the shorter ones are often too chunky looking compared to a graceful 17' model. A shorter canoe usually carries greater beam than a longer one. Of course beauty is worthless to the act of paddling, but how can we not love beauty? Especially the beauty of a wooden canoe?

All of this relates to many wood-canvas canoes; there have been quite a few all-wood canoes in sizes of 16' down to 14' and even smaller that are particularly elegant on the water and pleasing to the eye.

The best idea, if possible, would be to look at and paddle different canoes from different makers- canoes of different lengths and shapes. Length is only one aspect of what makes a canoe function well. And the only way to get a real sense of how a canoe works for you is to try it yourself. Maybe try to get to the Annual Assembly- it starts in just a few days in Peterborough, ON- there's no better place to see the great variety of wooden canoes, old and modern.

But whatever you do, be careful. You might end up like some people here who just can't settle on any one thing, and end up with an entire stable of canoes... none of which you could ever again live without!

And I'll agree with most of that has been said, but add that it really doesn't matter much.

When you 1st start looking for a W/C, you'll end up "getting what you get", and it won't be enough so you keep looking, and get another, and another, and pretty soon, you'll have a fleet, with serveral samples of each of the popular sizes.

who would like to part with a few but will likely get more before any are parted with.
Great. Just what I need: another addiction. Old double barreled shotguns; bamboo fly rods; and now w/c canoes. I just need a good idea where to jump in. Old Town, Chestnut, what others?
Are you interested in older canoes (say, pre WWII) or newer ones?

Do you collect antique fly rods? If so, do you have a Gerrish?