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Looking for Montreal/voyager canoe plans

Discussion in 'Birchbarks, Dugouts and Primitive Craft' started by Patrick, Apr 27, 2005.

  1. Patrick

    Patrick New Member

    Hello I'm Patrick Rheaume from Bangor,Maine and I'm looking for plans on how to build a Montreal/Voyager canoe.

    I want to build it for commercial use to run trips here in maine, but want to be true to how they were built back in the commercial time of the Fur trade.
    Please let me know if any one can help.
    Sincerely Patrick Rheaume

  2. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Start with Adney and Chapelle's "Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America", available through the WCHA here:

    Even better and in much greater detail is Timothy Kent's "Birchbark Canoes of the Fur Trade". This is 2 volumes of in depth detail of the design and construction of fur trade canoes. Search out copies on Amazon or Abebooks.
  3. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    I don't remember whether Kent's books have tables of offsets (measurements) for building the canoes, but the Adney and Chapelle book does not. However, the drawings in the Chapelle book's section on fur trade boats are very accurate. It's possible to blow them up somewhat, measure from that and then loft out the full-sized boat with relatively minor corrections needed to get a fair hull shape.

    One thing to be aware of is that these boats were designed as cargo haulers, not day-trippers. Both the Montreal and North Canoes have narrow bottoms and flared sides. Their unballasted waterline-beam-to-length ratios often come out substantially narrower than those of modern Pro 327 marathon hulls, which aren't known for their stability. Unless you have a ton or more of stuff in the bottom of one of these big canoes, you may find it surprisingly tippy - and it may take substantially more ballast than the average group camping gear load to sink the hull down to a waterline beam that produces the kind of stability that makes it a comfortable group paddling platform. Unloaded for day tripping, with just a bunch of paddlers sitting on relatively high plank seats, you may find it far more exciting to keep upright than you had planned on.

    It is for this reason that most of the good fur trade canoe replicas have the profile of a Voyageur canoe, but a cross-section, lower hull shape and bottom beam-to-hull length proportion which is actually closer to a typical Old Town or Grumman than it is to an real North or Montreal canoe. It's possible to modify one of the original designs, making it more "user friendly" for the group tripping and day paddling and it's also possible to enlarge certain regular recreational canoe designs and change the stem shapes and sheer line profile to make a believable Montreal canoe, but building one to historic design for recreational use is likely to be a mistake.

    Attached Files:

  4. Douglas Ingram

    Douglas Ingram Red River Canoe & Paddle

    John Winters has plans available for a Canot du Nord that has been adapted for recreational use. It is very well received. He has an article in Kanawa from a couple of years ago about it.

    Also talk to Jeremy at the Canadian Canoe Museum. He had just started building a Montreal canoe last time we were there. The good folks at Old Fort William could also give you some advice. They use these canoe regularily. They have a website, but I don't have the address.

    I agree with Todd, you can't just make a simple reproduction. Think of it as a "translation".

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