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New Member w. New (to me!) Canoe

Discussion in 'Guestbook' started by drueke, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. drueke

    drueke New Member


    I bought the 1923 Old Town Charles River canoe :D that John Abbot had for sale in the classifieds ( ).

    Brought her to Rhode Island last Saturday. She needed a front seat so I built a prototype and we took her out for a ride on Wednesday, GREAT!
    I believe it was the first time in the water for her since around 1970.

    I had told John I plan to put her in the Charles River this year to sort of mark her 85th year. I've spoken with Charles River Canoe and Kayak and they would enjoy seeing her and could help with a picture. The boathouse in the illustration sent to John ( (The illustration shows her original colors) still exists and is the home of the Newton Boathouse of the Charles River group. I hope to do that next week!

    I've been lurking and learning here for a while and now I'm a 'card carrying' member. I plan to refurbish/restore this canoe over the winter, new canvas and refinished interior, recane the seats and replace a few planks in the process.

    I owned a 17' aluminum canoe with a 60sq ft sail and 3hp motor when I was in Scouts back in the 50's and kept it until the early '80s so I know a little about using a canoe. There were 2 Old Towns (wood and canvas) at my uncle's cottage outside Milwaukee that were well 'respected' ("No you can't take those out - you're too young, take the aluminum.") in the 40's and 50's and I've always liked traditional W/C canoes.

    I'm sure I'll have a ton of questions as the refurb progresses and I'll do a search as much as possible. I've already got 'the BOOK' and that's a big help!

  2. MikeCav

    MikeCav Restorer/Videographer

    Welcome to WCHA and the forums. As a lurker, I'm sure you have come to realize that the folks here are always ready to lend an electronic hand and are quite generous with their advice and counsel. There is not question too basic or "stupid" - ask away!
  3. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer


    Very cool that the boat house pictured in the Old Town catalog still exists-- and absolutely perfect that you can create this image in real-life! Great way to celebrate your new old canoe. We'll need to see pictures!

  4. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Welcome Ray,

    Please send some pictures. The Charles River market was very important to the Old Town Canoe Company in the 1920s so they often featured locations in their catalogs that would look familar to buyers from the Boston area. The period postcards and catalog pages attached below may help illustrate what I mean. These buildings and bridges still exist as you have pointed out. I have thought that it might make an interesting photo essay of then and now images for Wooden Canoe Magazine sometime. Let me know if you or anyone else wants to provide the now images.

    The three most obvious images are the boathouse you mentioned at and as well as now, the echo bridge below and at now, and the Weston Bridge for Route 30 at and below but I could not find in a current picture of it on the web.

    Good luck with your restoration and test paddling!


    Attached Files:

  5. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    Okay Mike, here goes
    why do we park on the driveway and drive on the parkway? and if you can answer that, why is there an expiry date on sour cream?:p

    Seriously, Benson can you tell me the age of this seat? I got it with the Morris I bought and I dont know much about the age of various Old Town pieces or the chronology of different decals.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 14, 2008
  6. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood


    Hi Ray:

    There is an active chapter of the WCHA here in eastern MA. If you need help with your canoe, don't hesistate to ask. The chapter does have shop sessions and paddles on the Charles frequently, so maybe we can help Benson with new photos too.

    It is remarkable, but that section of the Charles has not changed all that dramatically in 100 years. The major landmarks are still there.

  7. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    There have been at least three types of small Old Town decals as shown in the attached image. The red bar with small type is still being used today and the black canoe is the oldest but I don’t know the exact usage dates for each of these. My guess is that the black canoe was used from the 1920s to 1940s, the large Old Town is from the 1950s to the 1970s, and the small Old Town is from the 1980s to now. A 1910 canoe sold on eBay within the last year which had a back rest that had a decal like this yours so these might have been used for a long time. That is really all that I can tell you. Please let me know if anyone has an early Old Town canoe that came with an accessory that has one of these decals so we can start to build a database to narrow down the likely usage dates. Thanks,


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 15, 2008
  8. MikeCav

    MikeCav Restorer/Videographer

    For the same reason that your nose runs and your feet smell! And why are there braille markings on the drive up ATM???

    FWIW - there are no decals on the seat backs on the 1911 Otca I purchased this summer - I believe everything is original per the build record,
  9. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    Thanks Benson.
    Bravo, Mike.;)
  10. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Unusual Morris Accessories

    Andre-- Your canoe chair appears to be similar to this back rest (pics attached) that came with a Morris Dave Osborn had. Even though I don't see this one in any of the known Morris catalogs, it seems the accessories came from suppliers outside the Morris factory, and there could logically have been styles that never made it into the catalogs.

    This back rest is mahogany. The cane pattern skips several of the usual steps but must be original to the piece because there are strips of mahogany filling the area on the reverse side, where the cane comes through--- making it difficult to recane without removing them and possibly buggering up the wood... so I plan to patch the breaks. Looks to me like your chair has the same effect. It's nice to have this effect on a fancy dining room chair, but not exactly practical for use in the wild.

    Let me know if you think this is the back rest version of your canoe chair. I believe Dave said the Morris this one came out of had a 6XXX serial number.


    Attached Files:

  11. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.


    Hi Kathy,
    looks like its twin. the seat portion has a more robust weave, the backrest doesnt look too strong as you say.
    I'll scrutinize the decal tonite, but I'm sure its the black old town but I have to double check.
    Also got a paddle that I figured for old town but who knows, its stained dark like the boat, and a fan-type back rest but its made of a sheet of older ply and stained similarly, but it was delaminating and it got tossed.
  12. MikeCav

    MikeCav Restorer/Videographer

    Kathy - that seat back looks identical to the two that came with my 1911 OT Otca. 2 back rests were mentioned in the build record, and everything else in the build record was present, so I have no reason to believe that are not original. Photo shows the backside of one seat, front of the other.

    FWIW, the caneing pattern is the same as the seats, which I also believe to be original.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 15, 2008

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