Racine Hardware Manufacturing Company

Years in Business: 
<- 1879 - 1893 ->
Company History: 

The Racine Hardware Manufacturing Company (RHMC) was incorporated in 1874 for the purpose of manufacturing a variety of goods, though not specifically boats. In 1879 they started producing canoes using a molded veneer construction technique for which U.S. patent no. 250,717 was awarded in 1881.

In 1882, Thos. Kane & Co., a supplier of school furniture, bought a controlling interest in RHMC, and hence much of the sales literature advertising RCHM canoes has the Kane name and address on it.

The firm hired Fred Martin in 1891. Martin was a brilliant young naval architect who previously worked for the St. Lawrence River Skiff, Canoe and Steam Launch Company in Clayton, NY. Around this time, they also started building “conventional” lapstrake canoes; both open paddling and decked sailing. 

Like several other canoe builders, RHMC overextended themselves preparing for the 1893 Columbian Exposition World’s Fair, and as a result of the panic of 1893, ended up in bankruptcy. While the company survived for several years afterwards, canoes were no longer built. Fred Martin left the company in 1893 and founded the Racine Boat Manufacturing Company.

Models Offered: 

Veneer Canoes

RHMC offered four canoe designs built using the the veneer construction process:

  • Rob Roy (also known as the Racine Canoe), based on the Rob Roy as designed and used by John MacGregor
  • Shadow, based on the design by Warington Baden-Powell
  • St. Paul, an improved model combining the best qualities of the above two models. ( J.H.Rushton claimed it was a rip-off of the Kliene Fritz which he had built for A.H. Siegfried.)
  • Double Cruising Canoe

Conventional Canoes

RHMC offered several 16/30 decked sailing canoes and the open paddling canoe “Weyauega,” all built using traditional lapstrake construction.

No canoes built by the RHMC, either veneer or lapstrake, have been positively identified or are known to survive.

  • Anon. 1880. The Racine Canoe. Scientific American 42(15):231 (April 10, 1880).
  • Anon. 1884. Typical Canoes of America: II. The Racine Canoe. American Canoeist 3(4):49-51 (May 1884).
  • Wheeler, Steve. 2002. The Racine Canoe Part 1: The Racine Hardware Manufacturing Company 1879 to 1893. Wooden Canoe
  • 112:6-12. (August 2002).