Wicketts Canoe Shop

Benson Gray

Canoe History Enthusiast
Staff member
Sue Audette sent me the image below from a descendant of Alfred Wickett. I know that Alfred left the Old Town, Maine area in the 1920s and set up shop in the Saint Louis area at that time. Does anyone know enough about old cars to date this photo or enough about the Saint Louis area to be able to identify the location? It does not appear to be from the Old Town or Milford, Maine area. Thanks,



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I'm afraid not too much can be told from the cars. The front one could be a Model T, with second of that vintage. Model Ts were produced from 1908-1927 with only minor changes. The real style change came with the Model A in 1927, so about all I can say is that the cars would be consistent with the mid-twenties.

I appreciate the comments and suggestions. All we have to work with is a poor quality photocopy so there is not much to enlarge for more detail in the signs or in the cars. Thanks for the effort though,

The picture is a view of downtown Valley Park, Missouri. I also have a copy of the photo from the historical society in Valley Park. The tavern building is still there but the canoe shop is not. I believe the name of the street is Marshall which is where Wickett was located before he moved to Benton Street in the early 30's, I think. Wickett was orginally located close to the banks of the Meramec River which flooded on numerous occasions. Consequently, Wickett moved to higher ground on Benton Street. I will check the photo tonight to see what informatioon I can read.
I printed the photo and took it into town to show it to a fellow here that is very knowledgable about old cars. He said that though he couldn't be sure because of the poor quality of the print he thinks the first car is possibly a Buick, vintage 1918-1923. The second he believes is a Ford from the early teens. Hope this is of some help.
Denis M. Kallery said:
...show it to a fellow here that is very knowledgable about old cars. ...the first car is possibly a Buick, vintage 1918-1923. The second he believes is a Ford from the early teens. Hope this is of some help.

I will also add, I forwarded this thread to my brother who took a look and wrote:

"They're early, in the teens."
Benson- I had a chance to review the photo that I received from the Valley Park Historical Society (The photo was given to them from a descendant of Wickett also.) and I can point out a couple of things that appear not as clear on your copy. First of all the street location is Meramec Station Road and not Marshall as I had mentioned earlier. This location is just a half block from the intersection of Marshall Avenue and Meramec Station Road. The director of the Historical Society supplied that information. Most of the buildings where knocked down when Meramec Station Road was enlarged to become a major road in St. Louis County. Today most people in St. Louis just refer to the road as HW 141.
I'm not sure if your copy clearly shows the railroad spur that cuts through the street right behind the first car. There is a railroad crossing sign right behind the first car. This spur connected the St. Louis and San Francisco R.R. with the Missouri Pacific R.R. I believe that Susanne Audette mentions in her wonderful book the importance of both railroads to the development of canoeing in Valley Park.
The sign on the tree appears to be some type of political signage. I can't read it all but I can make out Jim Jensen at the top of the sign and Judge in the lower right hand corner. That might help us date this picture if Jim Jensen in fact ran for office in Valley Park. I'll contact the Historical society and see if they can lend a hand.
Bensen- Another bit of non-essential information. The sign over the second car says BARBECUE. I'm not sure if that was clear on your copy.
I appreciate all of the detailed responses. This is much more information than I ever expected. Thanks,

Wickett in Valley Park

Benson, since we have been trying to gather information on Wickett in Valley Park, we have wondered why he left the Old Town/Penobscot area and his Pecaco company to come to the midwest. Although Valley Park and the Meramec River were becoming a favorite among canoeists, we have wondered why Wickett chose this particular area. Do you know if he had any business or personal ties that brought him to Missouri? Did any of the folks involved in the Penobscot company with him also come to Valley Park? Thanks also to everyone who posted the information on the cars. There are still some interesting remnants of Valley Park's heyday in the area.
Wickett truly a pioneer

I believe he was one of the most inovative pioneers in the early years of canoe building He designed the forms of the early Old Town Canoes
Came up with the Arrowhead deck the no seam canoe and what could be more inovative that to have your canoe shop right next door to a PUB
Al was a genius.
Came up with the Arrowhead deck the no seam canoe

Actually,'twas Joseph Ranco, a Penobscot Indian, that came up with the spear head deck and Notacrack canoe (funny you should bring the Notacrack up - I've spent some time earlier today trying to find a photo of one...).

According to Sue Audette, Ranco worked for OT, went with Wickett when he started Pecaco, and also went to Valley Park with Wickett. It's not clear who came up with the arrowhead deck, but I would suspect Ranco.

As for who designed the early canoes for OT, that's open for debate (there are a number of possibilities), and is probably a question that may never be answered.

If zoning allowed, I'd put a pub next to my new shop, too. As it stands, we just bring in the stuff from the micros and have a good time anyway :D All are welcome, just about any time.