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Mystery Canoe

Discussion in 'Research and History' started by Roger Kontak, Mar 29, 2016.

  1. Roger Kontak

    Roger Kontak Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I recently purchased this canoe that needs restoration and have no information on make, model or age. Hopefully WCHA members can help solve the mystery. The canoe came from a 90 something year old gentleman's estate in southern Minnesota. His 70 something daughter recalled paddling the canoe in her youth, but doesn't know anything else about it.

    The canoe has some distinctive trim on each side of the decks, but I don't know if this is original. The trim under the gunwales was likely added to hold the canvas in place. The outwales seem rather wide - about 1 3/16" as seen in the pictures.

    I found a serial number stamped into the bow stem after stripping the paint: 2266217.

    LOA 16' 10"
    Beam 32" (34" to outside edge of outwales)
    Depth 13"

    Please refer to the attached photos. I can provide more photo details of specific areas that might help in identification.



    Attached Files:

  2. David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    you'll probably get other replies, looks like an old Kennebec
  3. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I agree with David so my guess is that you have the Kennebec Canoe Company canoe with serial number 22662. This is shown to be a 17 foot long Kennebec model type A on pages 138 and 139 of volume four in the Kennebec ledgers. It was planked by Vigue on March 7th, 1937. The canvas covering was installed by Thib. on March 12th and he applied the first filler coat on the same day. He put the second filler coat on during March 20th, 1937. The rails were installed by Vigue on March 27th, 1937. The "F 22" (Function number 22 or the keel?) and "F 24" (Function number 24 or the seats?) were completed by Thib. on the same day. It was painted yellow and shipped to location "37-55 on April 15th, 1937. This location is probably an order number but we don't currently have enough information to identify it. The scans of these build records can be found by following the links at the attached thumbnail images below. The original Kennebec records are reproduced through the courtesy of the Maine State Museum.

    The microfilms and scans of these records were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA). I hope that you will join or renew your membership to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See to learn more about the WCHA and to join.

    It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match the canoe. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions.


    Attached Files:

  4. OP
    Roger Kontak

    Roger Kontak Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Oh no! My wife doesn't like yellow. She's already told me that I have too many canoes and I was supposed to send one out the door before bringing this one home. Such is life with canoe and sailing ailments. So far I'm still living indoors, so not doing too bad.

    Despite learning that this canoe was originally yellow, I appreciate the posts with helpful information and am excited to know what I acquired. Now I need to turn the excitement into restoration - but first must get through honey-do projects.

    I am a WCHA member, but first timer on the forums. I have to find my membership number. Guess I'll see it on the covering of my next copy of the magazine.
  5. OP
    Roger Kontak

    Roger Kontak Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Some additional questions:
    Does the Type A have any other name associated? I looked on dragonfly canoe and see several names but do not see type A listed.
    Are the rail caps likely original on this canoe?
    Am I correct that the trim under the gunwale was likely added to keep the canvas from tearing off or might this have been a trim feature?
    Thanks again for additional help.
  6. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    The model name for your canoe is Kennebec Model (as opposed to Kineo, Torpedo, etc.). The type (A, 2A, 3A) designates trim. Type A is the lowest grade.

    The rail caps are definitely original.

    The trim under the gunwales has been seen on enough Kennebecs that it is probably original to the canoe.

    If you are within shooting distance of upstate New York, this summer's WCHA Assembly features Kennebec canoes. (Details here, programs and schedules should be posted tomorrow).

  7. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    If you can bring the canoe to Assembly in July, you'll have no shortage of experts to finalize ID, and offer suggestions and guidance for the restoration process. It's a great event; if you can make it, you'll be glad you did!
  8. OP
    Roger Kontak

    Roger Kontak Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I did note that the assembly features Kennebec this year and will make an attempt to attend. I fly for a regional airline so will try to fly to an airport in that region and will unfortunately not likely be able to bring the canoe. Sure wish I had time to restore it and bring it along. I've been wanting to get to the assembly and this information gives more incentive to get there.

    I'm surprised to learn that the gunwale trim is likely original. I did notice that it is nicely tapered giving some indication that it wasn't just a quick fix.

    Thanks again for all the help.
  9. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Hey Roger,

    Good to see you here.

    And now you know, there was a reason it looked like a nice canoe.

    If you shed that Thompson, it doesn't hurt my feelings. Maybe you should offer it to Barry. :)

  10. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    A small addition to what Dan and others have said - - the rail caps and gunwale trim also show up on every original Kennebec factory sample model (aka "salesman's sample") that I have come across. Evidence, I think, of the care and attention to detail/finish that was taken for the sake of appearance. The rail caps are slightly shorter and blunter on those models which, I believe, are earlier (1916), and slightly longer, more tapered and refined on what, I suspect, are those made a few years later (1922-26). The finish strips under the gunwales are a nice touch, not often seen elsewhere; also tapered and fitted with care. It would seem logical that, if the company went to the trouble of adding these to its factory display samples, they were most likely regarded as essential pieces of the full-size product.
  11. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

  12. JClearwater

    JClearwater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    The under gunwale trim on your canoe is correct and original. My 1927 Kennebeck Kineo has them and I have seen them on others. I seem to recall a discussion some years ago along with pictures from catalogs showing them. A search of the threads should find it.
    Good luck with the restoration.
    Jim C.
  13. OP
    Roger Kontak

    Roger Kontak Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Very good information from all replies. Especially good to know about the nearby airport with commercial service. I had looked previously and was only aware of service via Boston. Seemed like it might be closer to fly to Canada and drive from there.

    For Dan Lindberg, I haven't made any plans with the Thompson and may still try to restore it - but now in line after the Kennebec. I'm definitely running out of space, however. I guess I'm preaching to the choir in that regard. Don't know that Barry would be interested in the Thompson - I haven't yet managed to strip all the paint from it. Once I get that chore done it will be a good project. As far as a collection, I still hope to someday have a sailing canoe. I'd better start looking for completed canoes rather than projects. Don't have a heritage canoe to use on the water. Only have the Aluma-tub and a stripper that are seaworthy.
  14. OP
    Roger Kontak

    Roger Kontak Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Here are a couple of pictures showing the trim under the gunwale. I will have to be careful working with this trim. Stern Side View.JPG
    Side View.JPG
  15. OP
    Roger Kontak

    Roger Kontak Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I'd really like to try both the Thompson and the Kennebec out on the water and stick with the one that paddles the best. Both of these canoes are about the same length. Unfortunately, the list is long to even get started on these projects.
  16. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Barry has the blue T Indian (16') I did many years ago,
    but if you take it for a paddle you might be unhappy with any thing else.
    It's a "rocket ship", but it is also very tender.

    When compared to others, it seems to be narrower, deeper, and more arched.

  17. OP
    Roger Kontak

    Roger Kontak Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Yes, I've paddled Barry's Thompson. We paddled it at the Shell Lake assembly summer 2014. Conditions were rather windy with a bit of chop, so the tenderness was quite evident. Very much like my stripper. I always take special precautions to place my load low in the stripper when taking it to the boundary waters. The stripper has low initial stability that takes some getting used to but is quite fast. Came in handy once when beating another group to a favorable campsite. Has been a little uncomfortable in some high winds and waves. Nearly had waves splashing over the gunwales once - it has minimal free-board. Normally, I'm not out to race, so probably would rather see something more calming on the water.

    Don't know whether my Thompson's hull is identical to Barry's. Suspect from what you're saying that it is, but haven't seen them side by side. Not sure whether or not they came from the same form.

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