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Newspaper Articles About Canoes: Gerrish, Molitor, And Others.

Discussion in 'Research and History' started by Benson Gray, Nov 2, 2018.

  1. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I've recently been trolling through https://www.newspapers.com/ for information about old canoes and continue to be amazed at what shows up. The Bangor paper announced on July 16th, 1886 that Gerrish was experimenting with a steam powered canoe. I. F. West of East Orange, New Jersey shipped a canvas canoe to Gerrish's home town of Brownville on August 25th, 1879 yet this is very close to the time when Gerrish is thought to have invented the concept. It also appears that an early canoe builder named L. A. Levitt from Old Town may have invented the sectional canoe as described in an article from February 18th, 1898. Charles Molitor of Detroit won a canoe at a Takoma Canoe Club party in 1905 as described in an article from October 26th, 1906. This may have been what led him to eventually decide to manage the boathouse on Belle Isle and get some very fancy canoes from Morris and Old Town. His bid for the 1911 and 1912 season's boat house contract from the city of Detroit has also been published. It is interesting that he agreed "to furnish and maintain at all times during the above contract boats, canoes, and accessories equal in number and condition to those now in use." This may explain why he was so particular about having some very unique canoes. Copies of these articles are attached below.

    Benson

    Gerrish-16-July-1886.jpg West-canoe-25-August-1879.jpg Leavitt-sectional-canoe-18-February-1898.jpg 10-28-1906-Molitor-won-a-canoe.jpg Boathouse-bid.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018
    1905Gerrish, Rob Stevens and MGC like this.
  2. Craig Johnson

    Craig Johnson LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Many years ago I met I believe it was "Jim?" Leavitt of Leavitt Quality Canoes. I can't remember where he was located. I was on a pilgrimage to find the fabled Stelmok and Thurlow after discovering their "Bible". I stopped off at LQC and got a tour of his shop, he was building wood canoes but using fiberglass instead of canvas. Anyway a little research finds he was in Hampden Highlands ME. Any Idea if it is the sane family?
     
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    Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I haven't been able to find out much about Leavitt Quality Canoes or Lewis A. Leavitt but it seems likely that they may be related. Do you have any idea of when "Leavitt Quality Canoes" were in production so I can add him to http://wcha.org/catalogs/maine-list.htm with the others? Lewis had a nice advertisement in the 1898 issue of the Maine Central Railroad magazine as shown below.

    Benson



    Leavitt-Rollins-Russell.jpg
     
  4. Craig Johnson

    Craig Johnson LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I used to have one of his pamphlets but haven't been able to find it. Here is the link to where I got what I think was his business, although I recall it as Leavitt Quality Canoes.
    https://boathistoryreport.com/directory/manufacturers/detail/?mic=LQC
    Looks like he was in business from 1981 to 1990.
    It must have been the early 80s when I made that trip. What year did the "bible" come out? I am not home to look in my copy.
     
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    Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I have added it. Rollin and Jerry's book came out in 1987. Please send me a scan of the pamphlet when you find it. Thanks,

    Benson
     
  6. Craig Johnson

    Craig Johnson LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I guess it was late 80s then.
     
  7. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Benson - a comment and a question. First, it's interesting that the same cut was used to illustrate the ads for both Lewis Leavitt and Rollins & Russell. Seems like maybe the publisher of Maine Central Railroad may have used whatever (perhaps limited) artwork they had on hand.

    And the question: Can you shed some light on the history of Carleton and Rollins & Russell? The 1898 ad above from Rollins & Russell claims that they are successors to Guy Carleton. However, the Carleton history shown at https://www.wcha.org/manufacturer/carleton-canoe-company states that the Carleton Canoe Co. operated from 1889 until 1941. To add even more confusion, the list of Maine builders at http://wcha.org/catalogs/maine-list.htm shows Guy Carleton building canoes and bateaux from 1888-1996 (I'm guessing the 1996 is a mistake and should be 1896), and then the Carleton Canoe Co. operating from 1899 - 1941. Maybe Guy Carleton operated under his name from about 1888 or 1889 until 1896 when Rollins & Russell took over, and then someone re-named the operation Carleton Canoe Co. in 1899?
     
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    Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I'm sorry to be responding so late but I just returned from getting a canoe with an unusual decal in Massachusetts that had been in the same family for 110 years. It appears that the Maine Central Railroad's graphic designer recycled some artwork and probably got a name wrong.

    There are some big gaps in my understanding of how Guy Carleton and the Carleton Canoe company evolved in the late 1800 and early 1900s. He was personally listed as a canoe builder in the Maine Registers from 1888 to 1896 (and I have just corrected the typographical error in the list of Maine builders). This changed to Rollins and Buzzell in 1897 and 1898. I've found no other references to anyone named Russell building canoes in Old Town at that time so my guess is that the Maine Central advertisement was supposed to read Rollins & Buzzell as the successors to Guy E. Carleton. It also appears that Guy may have still been involved during this period because the local newspaper from November 24th, 1898 carried a canoe advertisement that identified him as the manager. The 1899 Maine Register lists I. W. Buzzell & Co. along with Carleton Canoe Co. as builders of batteaux and canoes. The local paper from April 22nd, 1899 indicated that both of these companies "shipped quite a number of canoes to various parts of the country." An 1899 issue of the Hardware magazine indicates that Carleton "purchased the stock of the I. W. Buzzell Boat & Canoe Co." The 1899 issue of Seeger & Guernsey's Cyclopedia lists the Carleton Canoe Company as a maker of bark and canvas canoes. This is the first time that Carleton is identified as a source for bark canoes so they may have simply been reselling ones that were made across the river on Indian Island. The "Vital Records of Old Town, Maine Prior to 1892" edited by Ruth Gray (ISBN 0-89725-289-6) shows that Guy Carleton is buried in the Forest Hill Cemetary lot number 865 with 1850-1902 on his stone so he was not working there when Old Town purchased Carleton in 1910. The various documents mentioned here are attached below. Let me know if this doesn't answer your question.

    Benson


    1908-7262.jpg 1899-Carleton-Buzzell.jpg 1899-Buzzell-Carleton.jpg 1897-1898-Rollins-Buzzell.jpg Carleton-November-24-1898.jpg Carleton-April-22-1899.jpg 1899-SG.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
  9. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Thanks for the detailed response, Benson, and for being a mind reader. I meant to include a note about the ad showing Rollins & Russell as opposed to Rollins & Buzzell. That was confusing but I forgot to ask about it.

    So it sounds like Guy Carleton was building and/or selling canoes from the late 1880s through 1896 when perhaps Rollins and Buzzell may have come in with some capital and taken over, retaining Carleton as manager. Then somehow Russel & Buzzell lost the "Russell" component between 1897 and 1899. And then finally Carleton bought out Buzzell and created the Carleton Canoe Company. However, the note about Carleton buying the Buzzell stock says "hereafter the TWO plants will be operated by the Carleton Co." So that suggests that Carleton was still operating independently during the 1896-1899 timeframe. Something appears to still be missing from the clues.

    Thanks - Michael
     
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    Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Guy Carleton was running two related businesses. He purchased "Steam Mill Point" in 1883 with a lumber mill on the river. He added a small factory building about a mile away in 1889 where most of the bateau and canoe building was done. The maps at http://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?threads/6860/ and pictures at http://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?threads/14679/ show these buildings in more detail.

    The Old Town Canoe Company was most interested in Carleton's saw mill. Their treasurer's report says "The year closing Dec. 31, 1910 marked an accomplishment of the utmost importance to our advancement, i.e. the acquirement of a means of handling economically and surely our stores of native cedar." It goes on to say that they purchased "the Carleton Canoe Co., thus giving us the means of producing from the log at minimum cost the ribs used in our canoes. ... to provide for our needs considerably in advance, which was not assured before." See http://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?attachments/35473/ for more details. The 1911 fire burned Carleton's small factory building which led to the consolidation of canoe production into the Old Town factory.

    Hunt and Stowe had been selling bark canoes from Indian Island during 1893 to 1899 so Carleton probably just added this business after they closed. We are still missing much of the detail but some broad patterns are emerging. Let me know if you have other questions. Thanks,

    Benson
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
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