Wood Canoe Manufacturer Database

Wood Canoe Manufacturers

The Racine Boat Manufacturing Company (RBMC) of Racine, Wisconsin, was founded in November 1893 by Fred Martin, right after he left the Racine Hardware Manufacturing Company. Martin did not stay long; he left after about a year to start the Racine Yacht and Boat Works.

RBMC built a wide range of boats ranging from steam and gasoline yachts and launches, to schooners and other sailing craft, to canoes.

The Racine Hardware Manufacturing Company (RHMC) was incorporated in 1874 for the purpose of manufacturing a variety of goods, though not specifically boats. In 1879 they started producing canoes using a molded veneer construction technique for which U.S. patent no. 250,717 was awarded in 1881.

The Rhinelander Boat Company of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, was incorporated in 1903. They built four models of canoes, some based on the B.N. Morris Canoe Company model, until about 1946

The Shell Lake Boat Company of Shell Lake, Wisconsin, was first incorporated in December 1904. In addition to canoes, the company also built a variety of outboard rowboats and hunting skiffs. Shell Lake ceased building canoes by 1957.

The company changed several times throughout its existence, being sold in 1910, 1912, 1929, 1933, 1944 and 1959. Lund Boats of Minnesota purchased Shell Lake Boats in the 1960s, and Lund shut them down permanently circa 1980.

The Skowhegan Boat & Canoe Co. was founded in 1930 by Walter D. Grant. Grant was previously a superintendent at the Kennebec Boat and Canoe Company. The Skowhegan factory burned down on December 12, 1946, taking with it all of the company’s records and molds. The company survived at least until Grant’s death in 1951. 

St. Lawrence Boat Works was founded just after World War I by Joseph Leyare in Ogdensburg, NY. Leyare had a long career building boats, first working for the St. Lawrence River Skiff, Canoe and Steam Launch Company in Clayton, NY, then the Spalding St. Lawrence Boat Company and Leyare Boat Works, the latter two also located in Odgensburg.

The St. Louis Meramec Canoe Company (Meraco) was founded by Alfred Wickett in the early 1922. Wickett had previously worked for the Old Town Canoe Company from ca.1900 to 1914, and he had founded the Penobscot Canoe Company (Pecaco) in 1915.

In 1930, the name of the company was changed to St. Louis Boat and Canoe Company. The company ceases to manufacture canoes in 1978. Also in 1930, Alfred’s son Lawrence “Chummy” Wickett formed the St. Louis Boat and Motor Company.

The Thompson Brothers Boat Manufacturing Company of Peshtigo, Wisconsin was founded in 1904 by Peter and Christ Thompson. Peter had learned boat building by previously working for the Racine Boat Manufacturing Company and for Chris Smith, founder of Chris-Craft. In 1924, Thompson Brothers expanded and added a second factory located in Cortland, New York. Thompson Brothers built wood canoes through 1962.

The Veazie Canoe Company was a spin-off of the B.N. Morris Canoe Company, established in approximately 1905 to offer a less-expensive, factory-direct canoe. Until this time, Morris had offered the canoe models “Special Indian” and “Special Indian Extra Beam” in two grades, but around 1905 the company began advertising the Morris as an all-one-grade mahogany-trimmed canoe in models A-D (see B.N. Morris Canoe Company).

The W.H. Mullins Company of Salem, Ohio, was founded circa 1894 as a manufacturer of stamped steel boats. By 1910 they offered two models of wood canvas canoes; the 16’ Yale and 18’ Harvard. Sometime around 1916-17 a third model, the 17’ Princeton, was added to the line. The firm changed its name to Mullins Body Corp. circa 1919, and to Mullins Maunfacturing circa 1928. The last year that wood canoes were offered was 1923