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A Very Special Day

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Paul Bruce, Nov 15, 2020.

  1. Paul Bruce

    Paul Bruce Curious about Wooden Canoes

    It was both an honour and a privilege to acquire this beautiful (almost fully original) Peterborough Mermaid canoe today, from it's original owner. It was purchased for him, new, by his Grandfather when he was a 12-year-old boy scout in 1960 or 61 (he couldn't perfectly recall). He sparingly used it, carefully stored it and lovingly cared for it ever since. The only changes, since new, were 1 professional paint job on the canvas and he put a coat of varnish on the seats, here and there, himself. Even the attached rope is the only one he ever had on it and he fastened it there, using a braiding technique he learned in scouts. The gentleman was emotional when I drove away waving thank-you and good-bye, but he was happy knowing that it will be cared for and gently used for years to come.

    I am elated and very proud to call this beauty my own. Thanks for viewing...

    Attached Files:

  2. JClearwater

    JClearwater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Congrats on a very nice canoe. A canoe with history is all the more special. After you get out on the water send a picture to the prior owner. I’m sure he would appreciate it.
    Have fun.
  3. Murat V

    Murat V LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Really enjoy paddling the Mermaid design as a solo canoe. Yours looks to be in spectacular condition! You can tell it was truly looked after with care. Quick question for you: Are the outwales spliced or a single piece?

    I've got a similar era Chestnut Playmate that has a Peterborough code on the stem. Same boat built on identical forms. Not as pristine condition as yours but it is a delight to paddle.



    Last month I picked up another Mermaid that was heavily used, covered in Fibreglass by the original owner in the '60s. The interior was also painted green. Seller was having a difficult time because it looked so rough, but these little canoes are great for casual paddling.


    Depending on the Covid situation, hoping to do a restoration with other Chapter Members here in Toronto this spring.

    Enjoy your canoe!
  4. OP
    Paul Bruce

    Paul Bruce Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thank-you Jim.
  5. OP
    Paul Bruce

    Paul Bruce Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hi Murat, that's amazing you have two! Wow...

    Yes, this one I got is in pretty amazing condition. Thank-you. I'm not equipped to restore canoes myself, at this point, so I was ecstatic when I found and was given the opportunity to buy this one.

    Yes, the outer gunwales are two pieces connected with a scarf joint near the middle. The owner said that's exactly how it came when he got it new. I believe they are Oak.

    Apparently it's never been varnished or treated, since new, on the inside. Wondering what the best approach would be for it in order to protect and preserve it. Oil treatment? Or a very light sanding and then a thin coat of varnish?
  6. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Red chestnut playmates are great to paddle and also make good hats!
    Paul Bruce likes this.
  7. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Nice find...I also have one that is 100% original including varnish, canvas, paint etc. I haven't varnished it but I plan to. It also has spliced outside oak rails. The factory varnish looks like just a few coats and although they have held up a bit more won't hurt it.
    Varnish is considered to be routine and necessary maintenance.
    You should carefully sand and re-varnish using a good quality marine spar varnish. While you are at it you could clean up those blobs on the stem.
    Oil treatment is commonly used on wood trimmed bits on modern boats. I'm not sure I understand the reasons. The trim and seats on my Swift are oiled.
    Oil is not usually not used on these classics and would not do anything applied over the top of the varnish that is present.
  8. OP
    Paul Bruce

    Paul Bruce Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks MGC!

    Awesome that you have one too! Thanks for the tips on the varnishing...yes there are a few of those little blobs on the inside.

    Is yours red? Or green? I wonder how close the red paint on mine is to the original colour....
  9. Murat V

    Murat V LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Thanks Paul (and MGC) for checking if the outwales were spliced. My red one also has spliced oak and is thought to the same era (1960 / 61). But the green one has full length oak outwales and was definitely purchased earlier, around '56 or 57'. I wonder if scarfed rails are indicative of later era boats?

    I'll also echo MGC's thoughts to lightly sand and re-varnish with quality marine spar varnish. The sanding should just be enough to etch the surface of the old layer not to remove it, so the new layer can adhere a bit better.

    Wouldn't it be great if all the Playmate / Mermaid owners got together and did a paddling event?
  10. OP
    Paul Bruce

    Paul Bruce Curious about Wooden Canoes

    That would be neat
  11. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Mine is the typical grey.....I'm thinking about painting it another color at some point. Paint is one of those things that you should feel like you can take liberties with...paint it any color you like. If you don't like it, paint it a different color.
    Murat....mine is also one of the early 60's boats. The folks that I bought it from bought it from the original I understand it the canoe had only been used a few dozen times before I got it. And in my hands, it's been just few more times. I have it stored away where it's not easy enough to get to and other boats that I really like paddling as much or more.
  12. OP
    Paul Bruce

    Paul Bruce Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Very cool. That’s awesome.
  13. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    This might be a good place to mention that when we say "good quality marine spar varnish," we are talking about those made by Z-spar, Interlux, and Epifanes. Under no circumstances use a polyurethane-based varnish.

    And a reminder, that when sanding the old version, read the instructions on the can and sand with the recommended grit.

    --end of PSA--
    MGC, Paul Bruce and Dan Lindberg like this.

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