Who Paddled What?


Wood Girl #1186
I am interested if anyone knows what kind of canoe these people paddled.

Gaylord Nelson (past gov of WI)
Aldo Leopold
Omar Stringer
Sigurd Olson
Henry David Thoreau
Gary Paulson
Don Henley
I seem to recall reading somewhere that Sig Olson had an Old Town canoe, but would not be surprised to find that he paddled many makes (nor that my memory were faulty). He just wrote more books than I can read in 10 minutes.

Omer Stringer probably paddled lots of different canoes, probably of Canadian manufacture, but he will be best known for the canoes he built himself, under the Beaver brand.

I think Thoreau was in bark canoes, again, don't feel like digging out heavy literature to confirm.

I once bought an Old Town that was owned by Aldo Leopold, so the trash-picking seller claimed. For twenty-five bucks, I bought the story.... (That canoe was last in Chicagoland, far as I know).

Don't know what Don Henley paddles, but John Hartford paddled a Gum Tree Canoe.

Dan's right about Thoreau. His travels in Maine were done in birch barks - I think the birch barks were built in Old Town if I recall correctly. He does mention a fair amount about maintenance and pitching the canoes during his travels.

He also rowed a boat of his own design and construction on his trip down the Concord and up the Merrimack River. WoodenBoat had an article I believe where folks were trying to determine what he built for his excursion.

Don Henley shows up at Walden Pond once in a Blue Moon, but I can't tell you what he paddles.
I'm sure Dan Lindberg will chime in here, maybe even with photos. He has seen Sig Olson's Morris canoe in the Minnesota Historical Society museum.
As you already know, Sig purchased at least some Old Town's for his Border Lakes Outfitting business. Also looking at the Sig Olson website, the w/c canoes look like Old Towns.:D
Sig Olson used 17' Peterborough Prospectors on his three 1950s trips. He writes fondly of them in "The Lonely Land".

In 1964 he took :)eek: gasp!) Grummans down the Hayes River. Later that year I asked him what canoes we should use on our 1965 Athabasca-Grand Portage trek. He recommended Seligas. I don't know if he owned any, but he said they were very good boats. We ultimately bought Chestnut Prospectors because they were $25 cheaper ($350 vs. $375 per boat). Those were the days . . .

Sig's Prospectors:


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Sure I'll chime in.... :)

While Sig used a number of different brands in his wilderness trips, and he bought a number of Old Towns, usually Guides, for the Outfitter business, his personal W/C canoes, at least near the end were,

An early closed gunwale Morris, I believe 15 ft. Someplace I have the S/N of it, maybe 2972 ? something. As Dave mentioned, the Minnesota Historical Society currently owns it, and last I heard it was going to be on display in Grand Rapids MN. The Listening Point Foundation (which now owns LP) has approached the MHS trying to get the canoe back but they were refused. This canoe is in very good condition, though I thought we decided it had been recanvased at some point.

His other W/C canoe is a 16 ft White, S/N canoe 16 52 1610, and it's hanging in the cabin at Listening Point. The Foundation has considered restoring it, my recomendation was to not touch it, and to leave it as is for ever. It's not perfect but it has Sig's "fingerprints" all over it.

Some pics of both are attached.


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Thoreau's craft

As Thoreau and I share the birthdate of July 12th, I have had a lifelong interest. I have been given, over the years, many books by, and about him. In Thoreau's book, Winter, an introduction written by Dudley C. Lunt suggests that his first trip, in 1846, "was made in a batteau". His second trip, in 1853 employed a "birch, that is a birch-bark canoe". His third trip, in 1857, was also done in "a birch".

Your title Who paddled what. Got me thinking I do not believe any of them paddled.I think Who was on first and What played second.
Jeff Solway of Naashwaak Paddle fame had a Omer Stringer Chestnut from prior to the Beaver Canoe days.Omer had radically altered the beam of the canoe and moved the seats.Jeff found it tricky to paddle but Omer probably loved it..Incidentally I think the Beaver Canoes are the sweetest lines I ever saw in a canoe hull.