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William English Canoe Co'y decals, how long were they used?

Discussion in 'Research and History' started by Blue, Jun 14, 2014.

  1. Blue

    Blue Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hi, I recently received a cedar strip canoe from a relative that has Wm English Canoe Co'y decals on both decks. It seems to be in pretty decent shape except where the wood has dried out and shrunk a little, so it leaks.
    I'm interested in finding out more about when this canoe was made. I read that the company was bought out in the early 1900s but the new company still used the old decals. Any idea when they stopped using them? I haven't been able to find a model or serial number anywhere on the canoe. It originally had a sail, but tragically, my relatives didn't think they'd ever use the sail so it was sold off. Yeah I cried inside :(. My great uncle, who was born in 1914, was the original owner and lived mostly in California but no one seems to know when he actually bought the canoe.
    I have more pictures that I can upload if needed, or check out my facebook page. I'm also interested in resealing/restoring the canoe so it doesn't leak but I'll check the repair forums for that.
    Thank you so much for any information anyone can provide about this canoe!

    Sorry that 4th pic is blurry. It was the first one I took and I was a bit excited when I saw the canoe for the first time!

    Attached Files:

  2. Paul Miller

    Paul Miller Canoe Nut

    Hi Blue,

    There are others here that know more than I do about the history, as I have info somewhere that I'll post.

    You have a very nice canoe that is a Canadian "strip built" vs. a wide board. The wide boards predated the strip built but were both being built at one time.

    It was the Peterborough Canoe Co. that bought them out and I think that was the teens. I have a 4 board model 20 planked in White Cedar that has number stamped on the end of the thwart. (pic attached).

    Peterborough continued to make some models of Wm. English Canoes, especially the Model 20 racing canoe. I have a Peterborough Model 1430 built on the same mold at the English Model 20.

    You should be able to search Wm English canoes on this site and find a lot of info.

    Good luck,


    apparently the web site is not able to load images at this time so I'll be back later.
  3. Paul Miller

    Paul Miller Canoe Nut

    Wm English hist

    Here is the pic of the thwart numbers.

    The 20 would be the model and I'm not sure about the next two sets of numbers.

    You can still get decals from Dick Persson. He's in the builders directory.


    Attached Files:

  4. OP

    Blue Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for the reply! I did read up on the company here in the history sections and on a couple other websites. Still no specific date when they stopped using the decals officially. Or maybe they still use them? I think mine are original, there's no other markings or other decals or even places that look like decals were removed and I can't imagine my great uncle changing them from the original. He took very good care of his stuff.

    I'm still unable to find any model number stamped anywhere and I crawled all around it with a flashlight today looking up, around, underneath, inside everything I could think of and take apart. I'll keep looking as I'm fixing it up but what does it mean if there is no model number?

    I have questions about the seats as well. I can't find any photos or descriptions of canoes with seats like these, anyone know what they are called? Are they original or possibly something added later?

    Also, is this a pretty common canoe? Are there a lot of them around still? It feels really special to me but it's my first canoe (awww) :). I plan on using it and enjoying it for years to come but if it's some super rare collectible that should be in a museum or something then I don't want to ruin it. (Try not to laugh too hard at my newbie-ness lol)

    Thanks again for any info!

    Attached Files:

  5. Paul Miller

    Paul Miller Canoe Nut

    Hi Blue,

    The seats are someones idea to add seats.

    Most Canadian all wood canoes build prior to 1920 didn't have seat, only thwarts and just about every one had the front thwart with a mast ring and mast step or a mast ring in the deck.

    Wm English was one of the best Canadian builders and you won't find very many. I have one in a collection of 60 with some other interesting canoe. A very good friend who lives in Canada with a collection of 40+ may have just found one. So they are special. I believe they used the decal until the quit building canoes in the late Teens.

    I haven't finished looking at your other post with pictures, but knowing the model number isn't that important. We might be able to determine it by taking measurements of width and depth along with hull shape.

    Have you felt the underside of the thwarts; the thwarts on the racing models were hollowed and and not flat.

    I'll give you a reply to your other post, but don't start anything yet; it can be fixed and should be done to preserve it true character.



    The pictures attached are of my Wm English Model 20 4 board next to a 1982
    Stripper version of the Model 20 built on the original mold by Walter Walker.

    Attached Files:

  6. OP

    Blue Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks again for the response Paul. I replied to your pm before I read this last post so thanks for more info about the seats. My dad actually has a stand alone canoe seat (made like snowshoes) that will work perfectly if we end up using the canoe.

    Are you cringing at the thought of the canoe being used? I have a great respect for antique items and love the history of the US and north america in general. Please know that this canoe is loved! Researching the company and learning about wooden canoeing is really fascinating.

    I believe the thwarts are flat on the bottom, not hollowed. I looked under them all for a model number but still no luck. I was told my great uncle raced it, but I guess that doesn't mean it was necessarily made for that. The measurements are 16 ft x 32 1/2 inches x 12 inches deep, if that helps.

    I haven't touched the canoe yet. As my dad says, we have to ponder on it a bit.

    Your canoes are beautiful! I wish I had a place to build a canoe, that would be so much fun!
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2014
  7. Paul Miller

    Paul Miller Canoe Nut

    Hi Blue

    Word about seats and hull design.

    You might notice the seats that were put in this canoe were placed very low.

    Can you say "tender"? This canoe could be very tippy and that's why they would kneel and paddle.

    I'll guess you measured from the outside of the gunnel to the outside of the gunnel which would make this canoe about 31". And maybe a model 21 the less "V" bottom version of the model 20'; I'll check.


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