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Discussion in 'Open Forum' started by Howard Caplan, Oct 22, 2007.

  1. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.


    Nice boat, mine was just the average ordinary model, not the ultra rare amphibious arrowhead decked one. great little sailor though...

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  2. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    A couple of items I’d like to toss into the pot about the “what did Mason means when he said the prospector was the best all round canoe” discussion.

    First a couple of books I‘ve read suggest that the prospector had a pretty good reputation well before Mason. In R. M. Patterson’s “Dangerous River” (about trips on the South Nahanni in the late 20s), I recall that he made quite a fuss about commending the Prospector canoe by name. Also I recall that in at least one of his books, Sigurd Olsen was quite particular about using prospector canoes for wilderness paddles. So my poking around in the reputation of the prospector pre Mason leads me to think he might have been doing no more than expressing a general consensus on the merits of the prospector, floating around before he came along.

    Second its been suggested that Mason maybe wasn’t that wedded to the view that the prospector was the best all around canoe. It strikes me that his books show he was very methodical and particular about selecting and recommending other camping equipment. If so, why would he get careless and confuse the prospector with other Chestnut models when it came to putting his preferences in a book?

    I agree 100% that the prospector shines when it’s fully loaded. It remains quick and maneuverable. Soloed (lightly loaded) and with some wind it’s a bit more challenging than other canoes.

    This is just for fun. Not aiming to pick a fight.
  3. davelanthier

    davelanthier Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Prospector not a prospector ?

    I was told that the Chestnut prospector is not the original Chestnut prospector. Apparently the Chestnut cruisers were the original Chestnut prospectors. The story goes that Chestnut renamed their prospectors to cruisers when they brought out the new prospector model that we know of today. Is there any truth to this?
  4. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Cruisers were in Chestnut catalogues alongside Prospectors

    The way I heard it was the Prospector was a modification of the cruiser, at the least deeper and maybe some other changes. All some time in the 1920s. I got the first Prospector in the Norumbega chapter. Fitz now has one (or two) and loves it for tripping. Dave Morrison got a 16 footer. Steve Lapey built a form and is now working on his 3rd Prospector. Steve has what I think is a version of the cruiser and they’re very different canoes. Steve’s photo of me paddling the Prospector solo is featured on the WCHA brochure.

    I wrote a piece about rebuilding it. A long version was published in Boundary Waters Journal and a short version (Honeymoon with a Prospector) used to be posted here at the WCHA website.
  5. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

  6. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    No, probably no truth at all.

    The Cruising Model dates to Chestnut's first catalog in 1904. It's dimensions remain unchanged (except for a change in 1920 where Chestnut explicitly describes how and why it is changing the way they report dimensions).

    The Prospector was first introduced in 1923, and as described, "embodies the good points of both our Cruiser and Pleasure model and is sure to please anyone looking for a light canoe of large carrying capacity."

    In 1913 and 1916, the 16' Cruising Model is described as being smaller than the 16' Pleasure model. Certainly not going to be confused with the much larger 16' Prospector model of later.

    Lastly, having formerly owned a 16' Chesnut Prospector (1979 vintage), I agree heartily with Larry's assesment, and add that this model sucks for poling upstream as well. To its credit, it makes an excellent sailing canoe.

  7. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood


    I do like the Prospector's tripping abilities, especially river trips. I had a little trouble (but not a terribly hard time) this year on a windy lake trip with my 17 ft Prospector. I used it solo and lightly loaded and it was kind of a bear on the windy lakes. I like OT Guides on windy lakes. I also like the way Prospectors carry. They are well balanced and portage very well IMHO. Portaging qualities are very important for anyone traveling with Steve Lapey:p . See attached Prospector Hat.

    I finally convinced a tripping bud of mine with a large family and a hankerin' to trip with a ton of gear to upgrade from red Plastic. We have secured a REALLY BIG Prospector for him to fill to the gunwales with kids and gear.

    The attached is an 18 ft Chestnut Prospector Voyageur. It is late 60's vintage and should serve his tripping needs well. It will get new skin soon and be ready to go by spring. It too carries very nicely for a Big Honkin Canoe (BUT HE CAN CARRY IT):eek:

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  8. Dick Persson

    Dick Persson Canoe builder & restorer

    Interesting discussion. Here is an additional 5cents worth.

    The Prospector series of canoes was introduced by the Chestnut Canoe Co in 1923. Before this time the company had filled the demand for this type of canoe by building both the pleasure and cruiser models deeper than normal.
    What also is notable is that the new Prospector model series for stock was built only in second grade; painted both inside and out and covered with # 6 canvas, for the first several years.

    On another note; most if not all of Chestnuts models changed after the devastating fire on Dec 10th 1921. The fire apparently destroyed the plant together with all the forms and models. When comparing early models of the pleasure series and cruiser series to the ones built after the fire there are significant differences in hull shape and in some cases measurements, even after taking into account the 1922 change in how they reported their dimensions.

    Dick Persson
    Headwater Wooden Boat Shop
  9. Mark Z.

    Mark Z. LOVES Wooden Canoes

    There has been so much said her about what Bill Mason said about the Chestnut Prospector that I thought I would go back and look up what he actually said in his book "Song of the Paddle".

    Under the section 'Canoes for Wilderness Paddling', he wrote, "If I could have only one canoe, it would be the original Chestnut wood-canvas, 16 ft. Prospector. There are faster, slower, toughter, less stable, more stable, ...canoes than the Prospector, but none that do everything as well. ...However, with the high bow and stern and the rockered keel line, it takes skill to track a straight course, expecially in wind. ... The Prospector is difficult to paddle against a head wind. I might be windbound more often than the new straight-keel canoes, but being windbound isn't such a bad thng." page 138.
    On page 146, under "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", he wrote, "A nice canoe for pleasure canoeing around the cottage or lake is the Chestnut Pal, which used to be one of the most popular canoes.... I used the Pal canoe in my films Path of the Paddle, Solo Flatwater, Solo Whitewater and in my feature film, Waterwalker. If you've seen the films, you will appreciate just how seaworthy that canoe can be. I used it in whitewater for years before I bought my Prospector.... Choosing the right canoe for the occasion is fundamental to having a good time...."

    So, it seems to me that Bill Mason never intended to recommend that the Prospector was the best canoe for everything and that it was the only canoe he ever paddled. He certainly wasn't trying to put one over on the viewers of his films by using a Pal instead of a Prospector. He just said that if he could only have one, the Prospector would be the one he would pick, keeping in mind that wilderness canoeing was one of his prime uses. And, if it were too windy, why he would just stay put and paint!

    Bill also said, "Back in the good old days when somebody asked me for advice on what canoe to buy, I would drag out my latest Chestnut catalogue and point out the pros and cons of each model. There were six different models to choose from, and most of them were available in several lengths." This doesn't sound like he was recommending the Prospector to everybody for everything.

    I have always enjoyed Bill's enthusiasm for the Prospector and canoeing. I am sure he would say something like, "Let's not argue about it. Let's get out on the water and go canoeing!"
  10. davelanthier

    davelanthier Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    16' Chestnut Prospector

    And I just happen to have a 16' Chestnut Prospector available too if any one is interested. Would make a great Christmas present.

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  11. john hupfield

    john hupfield fire starter/wood burner

    Quit tempting me.I can't drive out there till next year.
  12. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Glad to see the full context quoted: that’s what I was going to do next. Really what he wrote was very careful, exact, and measured . . . and accurate. It’s how what he wrote gets interpreted that causes a problem. It’s almost like what he wrote conferred a sort of mystical quality to the prospector-like some of his qualities have rubbed off on the prospector.

    I was parked once in parking lot with the prospector on top. When I came back to the car, this guy was looking at the canoe, complimented me on it, and identified it as a prospector. Most folks just recognize that it’s a wood-canvas canoe, but he had that sort of far-away, glazed eyed, mystical reverent look about him that told me he had the “Mason paddled one” story in his bones. Sure enough, he did.

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