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Oar Length documentation

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by Shari Gnolek, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. Shari Gnolek

    Shari Gnolek Have dog, will paddle

    For canoes that were originally sold with oars and oar locks, is there any documentation describing the length of the oars that would have typically been sold with the canoe? In my case, I am specifically wondering about an 18-foot square-stern canoe with sponsons ( but I am also asking about documentation in general.

    I occasionally see sets of used Old Town or even Shaw and Tenney oars for sale on Craiglist. I'm sure that if I called Shaw and Tenney they could provide a recommendation, but I am wondering if there is any historical documentation.

    For those (few!) of you that don't hate sponsons and have rowed canoes that have them, what length oars have you found to be comfortable and effective? :)

    Thanks for any feedback you can provide!
  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The Shaw and Tenney oar length formula at is a good place to start. I have rowed a variety of canoes but don't recall the oar lengths in each case. The 1961 Old Town catalog suggested 6.5 foot long oars for the square end canoes with sponsons. More information like this is available from if you want additional details. Let us know what you decide to get and how you like them. Thanks,

  3. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Use the Shaw and Tenney formula or call Steve at the factory.
    I’ve rowed Square sterns and can tell you that 6.5” would be too short.
  4. Erik Rolle

    Erik Rolle Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Dave you just broke my heart...I'm on week 4 waiting on my oars that I used Old Towns advice of 6.5' for my 15' square stern...
  5. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    I’m sure 6.5’s will get you to where you want to go. I liked the 7.5’s for my 1944 square end. They reached out over the sponsons better in my opinion
    To be certain, I would use the formula on the Shaw Tenney web page or call directly to find out what they suggest. They have been sizing and building oars for around 160 years. Lean on them for what you need.
    It may well be that 6.5 is the prescribed length.
    I’m sure if you find out differently, they would change the order.
  6. Erik Rolle

    Erik Rolle Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I'll call tomorrow and see if I can change order!

    I'm inclined to agree with you...I rowed my friends 18' square stern with sponsons one time (6.5' oars) and I do remember it being a bit awkward at first and thinking oars bit short; but dismissed it as Old Town knows best. To your just adapt to shorter oars. Back up to the outboard motor in my case anyway...

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