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information and advice on Ontario Canoe Company canoe

Discussion in 'Traditional All-Wood Construction' started by therabbithole, Sep 1, 2017.

  1. therabbithole

    therabbithole New Member

    Hello All,

    I know practically nothing about wooden canoes that I’ve not learned over the last few days of reading here and wherever else Google has taken me, so I’m hoping to gather a bit of advice about how to proceed with a canoe I’ve just acquired.

    I’ll try attaching pictures below, for further detail, but: it’s what I think is called board-and-batten construction, about 15’ 6” (with a cursory measurement between the points of the stems), and has 3 brass plates on each side below the gunwales stamped "Ontario Canoe Company.” Assuming the plates aren’t the result of some sort of attempted counterfeiting, and based on the very limited amount of information I've found about the Ontario Canoe Company, am I right to date this boat to sometime earlier than 1892 at the latest (when, as I’m reading, the company of that name ceased production after a fire)? All I know it’s been in my grandfather’s barn in central Vermont since the mid-60s, and had been in the Adirondacks / Lake George prior.

    I’ve not turned up much of anything about this brand with searches on this forum, and neither have I located any pictures with internet image searches. I’m guessing this is not a particularly common boat, now if ever, and so:

    Does it have any particular cultural, historical, or social value that I might be compromising by doing anything short of a fully meticulous concours restoration? My initial intentions for this specific canoe were just to return it to serviceability. It has a half-dozen patches, cracked floor, a few split planks, and old fiberglass along its stems, but seems generally to be in good (to my inexperienced eye) salvageable condition.

    I know a bit more about vehicles of the wheeled/motorized sort than I do about boats, and just want to make sure I’ve not stumbled onto the canoe equivalent of a Brough Superior or an original Model T without knowing it - because in my experience in those worlds, it can be very frustrating and sad if someone does the wrong with thing with particular vehicles.

    I assume not, that there's nothing particularly significant about this canoe, but I just want to be sure that I don’t do anything that might be counterproductive in the long run (or that might offend someone with better informed sensibilities).

    Anyone have any thoughts on this? Thanks very much in advance.
  2. OP

    therabbithole New Member

  3. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Hi Justin,

    Welcome to the WCHA and to the Forums. You're probably already browsing around the site; there is a tremendous amount of information available here. As a member, you'll receive the magazine Wooden Canoe, which also has an abundance of fascinating information along with stories of canoe trips, restoration techniques, building methods and much more.

    Your Ontario Canoe Co. canoe is uncommon, and it's an early canoe, dating from the late-1800s. Detailed information on OCC is valuable here:

    Your canoe is yours, and people repair or restore their canoes in different ways depending upon their needs, interests and expertise. You can make it serviceable and use it, or go can go so far as a careful restoration that makes it better than new. If this one were mine, I'd truly restore it rather than simply repairing it, and I'd use it, but carefully. Wideboard canoes like this have their problems - the planking can crack, the joints can leak, etc., and in any canoe this old there will be problems. Read through these forums, looking for other stories of restoration of all-wood canoes and you'll learn a lot of techniques and see how some people have solved their own problems.

    You don't have to do it all yourself - there are many knowledgeable people here who are generally very willing to help others. There is also a network of professional restorers and materials suppliers, and you can find many of them here:

    Please keep us posted on your plans and progress. Again, welcome to the WCHA!

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 2, 2017
  4. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    My B&B canoe is no nowhere near as old yours and started in far worse condition looking at your photos.
    This blog may be of interest if you are thinking about doing it yourself.

  5. OP

    therabbithole New Member

    Thank you, very much, to both of you for responding! I'm sorry for my delay in acknowledging.

    My inclination, based on this, is to wait until I have the time, patience, and skill to do this with more care than I'd currently be able. I'll follow-up with updates when progress happens, and the canoe will stay safely under a roof for the at least this winter while I read more and maybe get another wood boat to restore for practice.

    Thank you again!
  6. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    hello Justin:
    What a lovely old find; lucky you!! A fairly scarce old piece, somewhere around 125-135 years old. If you are within visiting distance of the Canadian Canoe Museum, in Peterborough, ON, about 90 minutes travel northeast of Toronto, you might want to visit and see some of their examples from this historic early canoe-making operation. The museum is about a 3-hour drive from the Thousand Islands Bridge crossing at the top of Interstate 81, with major 4-lane highway for most of the rest of the way once you cross into Canada. In the interim, might I suggest that you contact Jeremy Ward, Curator, and send along some photos of your canoe. You can find the museum's website at:, and there will be an email link to Jeremy there. You might also contact fellow WCHA member and canoe historian Dick Persson, of Buckhorn Canoe Co. Dick will be able to help you with background info on your canoe. As well, he is very experienced at restoration of these older craft - Having survived this long in as good condition as it appears, it would seem to be something worth taking your time on and doing up correctly, with care. Very interesting, and well worth having. Not only will you enjoy it but, once restored, many others will also have that pleasure, and be truly thankful when you show it off. Good luck, and thanks for telling us about it.

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