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Thomas Gordon Canoe

Discussion in 'Traditional All-Wood Construction' started by Glen Smith, Sep 11, 2008.

  1. Glen Smith

    Glen Smith Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I have been building cedar strip canoes and kayaks for the past 8 years and this summer I took the bait! I visited my mother's cousin in Metis Beach, Quebec and he had an old canoe he didn't want to keep. Somebody gave it to him about 40 or 50 years ago in fairly bad condition. He kept it stored out of the elements with the intention of restoring it someday but that day never came. Now, it is my turn to ponder over the feasability of this project.

    It is a wideboard (3 planks per side), rib and batten canoe.

    According to Dick Persson this canoe is at least 104 years old but unfortunately, Thomas Gordon build records are inexistant and he did not make use serial numbers. I have stored the canoe for the winter while I gather information about how I should best go about either restoring the canoe or building a "replica" of it.

    This is a link to the photos I have taken of the canoe. All comments, suggestions and questions are welcome.

    http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v427/glenkayak/Gordon Canoe/

    Glen Smith.
    Baie-St-Paul,
    Quebec, Canada
     
  2. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Glen,

    Yes, it's rough, but that's a cool canoe and anything is restorable. In case you haven't already seen his work, check out R.C. Cross's restoration. In a thread started by Bill Purcell, R.C. shows before and after photos of a once very rough canoe similar in construction to your Gordon (Bill's restoration was also very nice!). The thread is here:

    http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?t=3117

    The one-piece decks are nice, and indicative of an older canoe (not unexpected, given that Gordon was building canoes in the 1850s). Also, do you have what appears to be a builder's plate that was once attached to the deck? Would love to see it. And could you post a shot that shows the profile of the thwarts in your Gordon?

    Michael
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Glen Smith

    Glen Smith Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hi Michael, yes it is VERY rough!!! I was looking at that restoration (R.C. Cross) just last night, very nice job.

    Yes, the decks are one piece. Does anyone know when the switch over to two-piece decks occurred? The bow deck plate was missing as well as the mast ring.

    I went out to the shed, climbed up the ladder and snapped a couple of shots of the thwarts for you to view. The thwarts are flat on the bottom face.

    Glen.
     

    Attached Files:

  4. Dick Persson

    Dick Persson Canoe builder & restorer

    Hi Glen and Michael,

    Thomas Gordon apparently used many variations of tags over the years. Below is a picture of three tags, a thwart-back-up tag, deck tag and coaming tag, all from canoes believed built between 1880 and 1904.

    Dick Persson
     

    Attached Files:

  5. OP
    OP
    Glen Smith

    Glen Smith Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for that information, Dick. The 6 thwart back-up tags on my canoe are like the coaming tag in your attached photo.
    Glen.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2008
  6. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Dick,

    Thanks from me, too. That collection of tags is interesting... looks like they weren't stamped out perfectly in some production factory, but perhaps made by Thomas Gordon or his employees?

    Sopeaking of tag styles reminds me, Dick- you provided some great information in this Peterborough thread:

    http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?t=3170

    but we never got back to whether it is possible to learn anything from the different Peterborough tag styles shown in the first two posts there. Any ideas?

    Thanks again,
    Michael
     
  7. Bill P

    Bill P LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Glen,

    My vote would be for a refurbishment back to a usable and near watertight condition. The patches and extra battens and knocks and dents speak of the boats history and all of its previous trips and adventures.

    The hardest part you have is reconciling the unavoidable differences between a 100yo boat and and the one you made last month. It doesn't have to be 'museum quality' to give endless enjoyment.

    Once you get over that, its just some interesting work and then pure fun.

    regards,

    Bill Purcell
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Glen Smith

    Glen Smith Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thank you Bill. That gives me another perspective to consider.

    Glen.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    Glen Smith

    Glen Smith Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Floorboards

    I have been looking at the floorboards from my Thomas Gordon canoe and I wonder if they are original or if they have been replaced. There are several knots in the floorboards. Was it a common practice to use boards like this for floorboards? They are about 7" wide and 7/16" thick. I have not yet identified the species of wood used. They still have some signs of grey paint such as was used in the ends of the hull beneath the decks. Any and all comments welcome.

    Glen.
     

    Attached Files:

  10. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Glen
    Going by the look of the grain I think they might be cedar or douglas fir if that was used for them?
    I have a Thomas Gordon I am working on nearly finished (see posts for a find in the Uk in the trad all wood section) that is missing any identification on the Tags (They are just plain brass plated and very battered).

    20161205_112733.jpg

    I am thinking of getting some made and stamped to look like the one's in Dick's pictures with Thomas Gordon on them authentically stamped by hand and not perfectly straight!

    I also have clips for my bottom boards but the boards are missing so it was interesting to see yours as I need to work out what shape and timber to use.

    20161008_120322.jpg

    20161008_163100.jpg

    20161008_120337.jpg

    Cheers

    Alick
     
  11. alick burt

    alick burt LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi Glen
    Going by the look of the grain I think they might be cedar or douglas fir if that was used for them?
    I have a Thomas Gordon I am working on nearly finished (see posts for a find in the Uk in the trad all wood section) that is missing any identification on the Tags (They are just plain brass plated and very battered).

    View attachment 36609

    I am thinking of getting some made and stamped to look like the one's in Dick's pictures with Thomas Gordon on them authentically stamped by hand and not perfectly straight!

    I also have clips for my bottom boards but the boards are missing so it was interesting to see yours as I need to work out what shape and timber to use.

    View attachment 36610

    View attachment 36611

    View attachment 36612

    Cheers

    Alick
     

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