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BN Morris canoe

Discussion in 'Traditional All-Wood Construction' started by Joe, May 19, 2010.

  1. Joe

    Joe New Member

    I have what appears to be a BN Morris canoe that is all wood, no tag or hole found on the splay but did find where a oval tag was placed on the inward portside aft railiing. It is in very good condition i believe and i was hoping somebody could help me determine its age and value in its present state. I plan to sell the canoe in the future. The size of the canoe is 17' long 33" wide and the depth in approx 12". Thanks for any advice or help in advance.






  2. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    what number is on the tag??
  3. OP

    Joe New Member

    Hi Dave the tag is missing only the nails that attached remain
  4. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Kathyrn Klos is the resident expert on all things Morris. She'll pipe up here soon!
    Nice Canoe!
  5. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Our database of Morris canoes shows a change from the oval serial number plate on the inwale to the more-rectangular one on the stem within the 6XXX serial number series, which we believe is about 1908.

    It seems Morris began placing serial numbers on his canoes in about 1900-- our only piece of documentation connecting a serial number to a ship-date is canoe 1876 which shipped June 1, 1903. It appears the serial numbers were assigned consecutively. Fire destroyed the factory December 15, 1919, and the serial numbers were 17XXX at that time.

    I can't see how many cant rib pairs are in your canoe. This would help narrow down the age. It seems that sometime in about 1905, Morris added a third pair of cant ribs. The cant ribs are the "half ribs" (not steam-bent full ribs) that are way up in the bow and stern of the canoe and are canted into the stem. Sometime in 1905, Morris went from 2 pairs of cants to 3 pairs.

    So, if your canoe has two pairs of cant ribs, it dates from around 1900-1905; if it has three pairs, from about 1905-1908. That's as close as we can narrow it down, without the ledgers listing serial numbers and shipping dates.

    It looks like a beautiful canoe. It's missing the center thwart, which is a common thing: the center thwart was probably attached with wing nuts so that it could be removed, and it went missing for that reason. There are enough existing center thwarts from 17 footers to find a suitable template to make a new one, if desired.

    The decal on your canoe should read "B.N. Morris-- builder-- canvas, paddling, & rowing--canoes-- Veazie, Maine". (In approximately 1912 the word "rowing" was replaced with "motor".)

    As to "value", there's a discussion here:

    Much depends on "condition", which includes any prior repairs that have to be un-done and re-done. I believe the classifieds on this website are a good place to list a canoe for sale, especially if it may need restoration versus simply getting it water-worthy.

    Let me know how many cant rib pairs you find. If the stem band is riveted-on, it has probably never been removed and the canoe is in original canvas. Many who seek older canoes to restore prefer to find them more-or-less "untampered".

    Denis Kallery and I have nine Morris canoes and have paid as little as "free" for one that "needed a good home and a lot of work" (it's the one in the YouTube videos I made) to about $1600-plus-travel for a long-decked Belle Isle Morris Molitor ("courting canoe"). I'm not saying those are the "value parameters", but may give you an idea of what to expect. You've alerted folks here to your intent to sell your canoe, and maybe you'll get some offers.

    Any additional pictures are much appreciated, as I keep a file-- and every canoe helps us understand Morris canoes a bit more.

  6. OP

    Joe New Member

    Hello Kathryn,

    Thanks for all the help so far, i have attached a few more pictures that may help. I checked and it is rivited all the way up and all looks original to me.
    I attached a picture of a name found on about 4 of the ribs. Reads Graves Amsdell. Must have been the owner or livery at one time, maybe he still is paddling it:)



  7. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Hi Joe-- Looks like only two pairs of cants to me, so your canoe would probably be circa 1900-1905. In great condition for its age.

    I agree the name may be a former owner. I'm thinking this probably wasn't a livery canoe, or it wouldn't be in such good shape.

  8. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Graves & Ramsdell?

    I think it might be Graves & Ramsdell. They ran some amusement type parks etc. in NH. I found this on line. There is even a picture of some canoes included. Maybe the one in question??

    PINE ISLAND PARK, the Wonderland of New Hampshire
    leased by Graves & Ramsdell, is four miles from the centre of
    Manchester, N. II., within easy riding distance of Nashua and
    Derry, and comprises 135 acres of land along the shor? of a pleasure
    pond a mile or more in length and is wooded with a tall growth of
    Pine trees. The principal amusements are boating, bathing, dancing
    and skating.
    The bath house has 100 rooms equipped with shower baths, hot
    and cold water, etc . Half of the bath house is reserved for ladies,
    and expert swimmers are in attendance to teach beginners . The
    skating rink is on North Island . It has a floor 80x100 feet, and was
    erected in 1907 .
    The dancing pavilion's broad balconies overhang the water . The
    dancers are admitted by ticket and the floor is cleared after each
    dance, there being ample room on the wide verandas for the dancers .
    An open air refreshment room on a low balcony is very popular
    and on the lowest floor at the water level are canoes and boats .
    Among the other attractions are a large bowling alley, box ball,
    penny arcade, roller coaster, merry-go-round, circle swing, various
    1 •ooths, and a first class dining room .
    There are numerous pleasant walks about the shore and along
    the brook which feeds the pond. If picnic parties so aesire one of
    the large islands is reserved for their use.
  9. OP

    Joe New Member

    Have no clue how you found that but it certainly seems you have discovered the original owner of the canoe. Check out page 20 of your attachment and it mentions canoeing again. I think the name was burnt into the ribs and part of the letters did not get put in. (must have been a friday:D)
    Ps to all last week i joined wcha in hopes of being able to get some info on the canoe.
  10. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Welcome to the WCHA, Joe.

    Great info, Fitz-- interesting how often canoes and penny arcades shared in the good times of a century ago...

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