Ontario Canoe Company

Years in Business: 
1883 - 1892
Company History: 

The Ontario Canoe Company was founded in 1883 by Colonel James Z. Rogers in Peterborough, Ontario. The company’s offerings were based on the cedar strip and cedar rib style canoes invented and patented by John Stephenson. The factory burned down May 9, 1892, and would not be re-built. Rogers would become supervisor of the newly-formed Peterborough Canoe Company, which was incorporated shortly before the Ontario Canoe Company burned down. Arthur Tebb, a former Ontario Canoe Company supervisor, and Felix Brownscombe formed the Canadian Canoe Company, also in 1892.

The Ontario Canoe Company built the first club, or “war,” canoe in 1889. The club canoe, which was designed to carry several paddlers, opened the door to canoe club membership to those who did not own their own canoe.

The canoes offered by the Ontario Canoe Company were constructed using techniques patented by J.S. Stephenson for the longitudinal cedar strip (Canada Patent No. 32701 and US Patent No. 292183) and cedar rib construction (Canada Patent No. 10063 and US Patent No. 281316).

Models Offered: 

Construction Styles:

  • Board and Batten Wide planking (usually 3 or 4 boards per side) fastened to narrow half-round ribs. Planking seams between ribs are covered with half-round battens. 
  • Patent Longitudinal Rib 5/16” thick planking approximately 1” wide, running the length of the canoe. The planking is tongue-and-grooved, and fastened to half-round oak ribs.
  • Patent Rib Cedar strips, about 1” wide, tongue and grooved, and running from gunwale to gunwale.

Named Models:

  • Open Canoe - built in longitudinal strip, patent rib, and basswood (wide-board styles) in lengths ranging from 10 1/2’ to 17’
  • Juniper Canoe - built on open canoe designs, the ends are decked over about 3’, continuing along the sides, and with a coaming.
  • Ontario Canoe - built on open canoe designs, decked over leaving a cockpit about 4-1/2’ long. Often provided with fittings and rigs for sailing.
References: 
  • Brown, Ken. 2011. The Canadian Canoe Company & the Early Peterborough Canoe Factories. Cover to Cover.
  • Stephenson, Gerald F. 1987. John Stephenson and the Famous “Peterborough Canoes”. Occasional Paper No. 8, Peterborough Historical Society.