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Has The Interest In Wood/canvas Wained?

Discussion in 'Open Forum' started by Dan Lindberg, Aug 28, 2018.

  1. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    I read with interest some of the recent comments about flagging WCHA membership and possible decreased interest in wood/canvas canoes and canoes in general.

    And then sense I have an add for a canoe on the web site I scrolled down the list of canoe for sale.
    There seemed to be a lot that have been there for a long time at very high prices, and even some at what I'd consider fair prices.

    Do any of these canoes ever sell? Is there still a market for arguably high end canoes?

    I also have an add on the local c-list, with zero responses so far.

    Just curious what others think.

  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Yes, my feeling is that interest in wooden canoes is clearly much less than it was in the late 1990s and early 2000s era. Adirondack stuff in general was hot then. The overall antique market seems to have gone very cold now. Canoes have always been seasonal and this is the beginning of the typical low interest period. There will always be a market for the very high end canoes but it is getting smaller. As Tim Hewitt said at many years ago, "If your goal is to make money on a canoe, go into another hobby, you'll not likely make any here."

    Last edited: Aug 29, 2018
    Dan Lindberg likes this.
  3. goldencub

    goldencub Carpenter

    Unfortunately Dan, I think you're right about decreased interest. Not just for canoes, but for woodie station wagons, wood and fabric airplanes and almost anything that requires routine care and maintenance on the part of the owner. Today, people under age 45 or so might comment on "how nice that looks", but most of them who might buy will farm the maintenance out to specialty shops and are able/willing to pay the cost of that luxury. Rollin Thurlow posts that he has about two years-worth of backordered work. I wonder what the ages are of those owners?

    The younger set today seem to much prefer high tech new over-the-top stuff. Kevlar water craft so thin-skinned that you can see the bottom of the pond. And a canoe is so old-fashioned! We want kayaks on our car-top racks (mounted beside the family trail bikes). And how 'bout those cool stand-up paddle boards? Yea, man - I want a couple of those! And after a couple of years, we can cart them off to the dump and buy something brand new and upscale.

    As for prices, those of us with a W/C canoe that we've maintained, or who might own a 1939 Ford station wagon in great shape, tend to think we have something of great monetary value. But that value is only to only the very few people who might cherish ownership of the object. And as time passes, there are fewer and fewer such people - the average person has long since lost interest in old stuff (and that includes your family's silver tray and water pitcher!) Sad, but true. Al D
    Dan Lindberg likes this.
  4. ppine

    ppine Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Yes, Old Town has stopped making them as an example.
    Materials are harder to find. Some us refuse to give up.
    I am 70, my OT is old and I thought about selling it.
    Nope. Doing some repairs now while stuck at home.
  5. Gary

    Gary Canoe Grampa

    Hi guys, life always seem to be on a roller coaster. What was "in" many years ago and then outdated is now new and fresh and sought after again. I just hope that this holds true for wood canoes. For example there was a time where everyone was snowboarding up here and now most of them are skiing.
    I'm trying my best to influence the next generations in my family. I gave all my kids a restored cedar canvas canoe as a wedding present and now my grand kids are looking over the inventory picking out the one they want. I say lets just each do our part to make memories with these things and hope that the trend will continue in the circle we each influence. And along the way we can have a lot of fun mucking around with these beautiful craft. Not much else we can do these days with the stay at home (in the workshop) order.
    Stay safe, Gary
    ppine likes this.
  6. whalen

    whalen Will canoe, and have been canoed,

    Tried to sell a 1923 Ideal which was about 75% restored: $1,200 then $800 then $600 and finally sold for $400. I thought it might be snapped up by a novice. It was novice bait with an interior stripped and ready for varnish. Just needs paint and outwales. Finally bought by a canoe collector.

    Could it be weight? The generation not buying into the w/c canoe seems to wanting things which are lightweight: Kevlar kayaks, carbon fiber frame bikes/trikes, etc.
  7. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    It's not simply's storage and maintenance. When you live in an apartment storing a wooden canoe correctly is a problem. If you have a starter home with a tiny garage (or none) storing a wooden canoe is also a problem. You can leave a cheap fiberglass or poly boat on the ground year round without damaging it. You can do that for years on end without getting tip rot, having the canvas pull away from the rails etc. Canoes are also less appealing now than kayaks. Kayaks are small and easy to haul around and store. That's what folks want...and often it's what they need.
    By the time I was 16 I had three wooden canoes and a form....all stored in my parents carriage barn. Had it not been for having a place to store them I'm not sure what I would have done. I currently have three canoes that belong to my kids here taking up (my) space. Hopefully they solve their storage problems soon. I need more space!
  8. shelldrake

    shelldrake LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Sign of the times I believe. Generally, the younger generation does not feel the nostalgia for older stuff that the Baby Boomers do. For instance, the market for traditional sporting firearms like classic double barreled shotguns is very soft.

    I'm afraid that this does not bode well for our organization.

  9. Kanu

    Kanu New Member

    Being at the tail end of the boomers I am well aware of canvas covered canoes but have never paddled one . My first canoe experience was in a strip built canoe ( made circa 1970 ) , a slow stable design and heavy still the magic of paddling was instilled over the next few years in that old tub .

    As a history buff of fur trade era and native technology you can't help but learn a bit about how canoes were built , maintained and the changes in materials as canoes went from items of working craft to recreational use .

    After moving to the coast of BC canoes and sea kayaks were a passion and built a number of kayaks in skin on frame construction. Lately I've been looking at solo canoe designs to build in SOF . It is a good method due to weight and low cost of materials and they can look very nice .

    Sadly the era of canvas covered canoes seems to be in twilight , still they will likely never quite vanish much like birchbark canoes continue to be built.
    Last edited: May 18, 2020
  10. Bo Saxbe

    Bo Saxbe Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I'm probably not the best voice for my generation (Gen-X, I guess - born in the early eighties) but I think the lack of storage space is a real killer for my peers. I think younger people are coming into homes much later in life, and the homes are a lot smaller. I know a ton of guys I went to camp with (Keewaydin) who would die for a wood canvas canoe, but respect the craft enough they know they can't just leave it on their car all year, or hanging off the porch in their tiny apartment. Home ownership is tough for us, and even harder for the larger cadre of millennials a decade behind us. You really do need a shop/garage and a yard, and a car, to really own and enjoy a wood canvas canoe.
    MGC likes this.

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