Thompson Brothers Boat Manufacturing Company

Years in Business: 
1904 - 1962 (wood canoes)
Company History: 

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.

Identifying Features: 
  • Distinctive deck profile
  • Distinctive planking pattern
  • Distinctive stem profile during certain time periods
  • Metal strap joining gunwales under deck
  • If half ribs present, stringer covers ends of half ribs
Models Offered: 
  • Indian Model: Standard Thompson model, does not have half ribs.
  • Hiawatha Model: Built on the same mold as the Indian Model, has half ribs with ends covered by stringer.
  • Ranger Model: This model has a very flat sheer.

Dating the Thompson Hiawatha

by Dave Osborn (email: dave@littlelakescanoe.com)

Using the Thompson Brothers Boat Company CD-ROM by Dan Miller and Benson Gray, I developed a matrix by year, seat, thwart, and gunwale materials used. I was able to determine that my 18′ Hiawatha was built in 1922 or 1923 (assuming they never ever substituted materials in other years). The Thompson Digital Catalog Collection, which is a nearly complete collection of Thompson Brothers catalogs, is available from the WCHA On-line Store. Thanks to Dan and Benson’s efforts, some of us Thompson owners can now zero in on our canoe’s origins.
 

YEARTHWARTSSEATSGUNWALES
1921*white oakwhite oakspruce
1922white oakwhite oakspruce
1923white oakwhite oakspruce
1924selected mapleselected maplespruce
1928selected mapleselected maplespruce
1929white maplewhite maplespruce
1930white maplewhite maplespruce
1931white maplewhite maplespruce
1932white maplewhite maplespruce
1933white maplewhite maplespruce
1934white maplewhite maplespruce
1935white maplewhite maplespruce
1937white maplewhite maplespruce
1939white maplewhite maplemahogany
1940white maplewhite maplemahogany
1941​***white maplewhite maplemahogany
1942mahoganywhite oakmahogany
1943mahoganywhite oakmahogany

Notes:

* only available in 16′ and 17′ lengths
** 30″ decks of cedar or mahogany were available in all production years
*** art work in 1941 catalog and later show narrow half ribs