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Thompson Canoe Company of Hairy Hill Alberta

Discussion in 'Paddles and Paddle Making' started by John Hidber, Apr 16, 2008.

  1. John Hidber

    John Hidber New Member

    Hello All,

    Has anybody heard of the Thompson Canoe Company of Hairy Hill, Alberta?
    A co-worker here in Edmonton has just obtained 5 of these cedar rib and canvas canoes. One of them is said to be close to 90 years old. All of them look to be in very rough shape. The owner mentioned he has plans to cut them up into shelves. Aaarghh!
    I have pictures if anybody can advise me on how to post them.

    John Hidber
  2. Dick Persson

    Dick Persson Canoe builder & restorer

    No, they are not 90 years old...if they are marked Thompson Canoe Co, Hairy Hill. That company was in business in the 1980's for a short time. Before that Jamie Thompson worked for Wabasca Canoe Co, the failed attempt to big scale building of wood canvas canoes on a reserve in Alberta.

  3. Stephan

    Stephan Canoe Enthusiast

    Hi John,

    When you post a reply, click on the small 'paperclip' icon and a small window should appear titled "Manage Attachments". Browse for each of your photos and then 'upload' them. Finish your post and submit your reply. We should then be able to see them.

  4. Douglas Ingram

    Douglas Ingram Red River Canoe & Paddle

    I've got an 18' Wabasca in my shop waiting to be picked up. The canoes are generally well built, all red cedar hulls. The ones that I've seen are slender and quite round bottomed. They deserve better than to be cut into shelving.

    I've paddled some 16'ers out at Manitoba Pioneer Camp. Jamie used to hang out there quite a bit back in the '80's, and his kids attended there also. I met him on one occasion, and hung out with him helping him work on repairing an old Peterborough. He's a nice guy.
  5. davelanthier

    davelanthier Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Wabasca Canoe Company.

    Looking at a 16' Wabasca canoe. This original owner bought it in the early 1980's. He claims it was built in Quebec, Canada on an "original" Chestnut form. Can anyone clarify if these statements are true? What is the history of this company? Thanks
  6. Dick Persson

    Dick Persson Canoe builder & restorer

    Hi Dave,

    No I don’t believe it was built in Quebec. It was built at the Wabasca Native Reserve north of Edmonton.
    The Wabasca native band purchased about 20 of the Chestnut Canoe Co forms after the Chestnut closing in 1978-1979 and hired Jamie Thompson as an instructor.
    However, the market did not support a large scale manufacturing in western Canada and the business closed as quickly as it had started.

    Dick Persson
    Headwater Wooden Boat Shop
  7. davelanthier

    davelanthier Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Thanks Dick. I'll be dealing on it today, may bring it home. What happened to the Chestnut forms?
  8. Canerodz

    Canerodz Trout Bum

    My question as well. Even though I know that Avarice is one of the seven deadly sins, I can't help myself!
  9. davelanthier

    davelanthier Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Stung again!

    We just completed a 6 hour round trip to look at - quote: " I promise you this w/c canoe is LITTERALLY AS NEW ". One outwale was broken and patched, the exterior paint/filler was cracked and crazed, the shoe keel had been siliconed on each side. To ad insult to injury the seller had slapped on a fresh coat of paint to try to hide the problems. Why do people do this?
    This canoe, a 16' Wabasca, was unlike any Chestnut canoe I have ever seen. The bottom was round like a barrel, depth was 16", beam was 34", weight was at least 90 lbs. The ribs were tapered simular to a Chestnut but many had compression points due, I suspect, to over steaming. What Chestnut form would Wabasca have used to build this one?
    Bottom line, I didn't feel it was worth bringing home.
  10. Dick Persson

    Dick Persson Canoe builder & restorer

    Stung again!

    Dave, if it is any consolation, you are not alone; I’ve been in your position more times than I care to think about.

    No, I don’t know which form they used or if the canoe actually was built on a true Chestnut form.

    What I do know is that Wabasca Native Band purchased about 20 of the Chestnut forms. All the Wabasca “Chestnut forms” was later purchased by Ken Solway and brought to Ontario.

    BTW, the one and only Wabasca canoe I’ve worked on was quite round in the bottom as well.

  11. Philip

    Philip New Member

    For the information of others searching for Wabasca Canoe Co info, I recently purchased one made in 1982 from a 15' Chestnut Chum mold. The original purchaser, who I bought it from, was full of mis-information about the company and the canoe he owned. (He bought it new in 1990, where it had hung in the store since it was built in 1982. Then he never paddled it. It was litterally in new condition, save for a couple dings in the gunwhales.) In a roundabout way I tracked down Jamie Thompson, who ran the company, and got the straight goods.

    "We built canoes in Wabasca from 1980 to '83, then shut the plant down and let the brand die. We had about 25 Chestnut moulds, plus two that I made. The really good thing was that we had a source of eastern white cedar and built most of the canoes from that - it is by far the best wood to use and was the only hull material used by Chestnut for decades."

    Jamie built canoes for Chestnut in Fredericton in the '70's.

    Each boat has a serial number stamped to the inside of the bow (stem post). Eg. ZWA12345X82X

    The ZWA identifies it as built by Wabasca Canoe Co., the 82 is the year it was built. The other letters and numbers are random, and assigned by the government.



    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 25, 2014
  12. Donald H Green

    Donald H Green New Member

  13. Donald H Green

    Donald H Green New Member

    I have a Thompson canoe which is my pride and joy in excellent shape - always walk into water carrying canoe before entering I think I paid $6000 to $8000 back in 1980s or so . It rises out of water as you paddle. D

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