Wood Canoe Manufacturer Database

Wood Canoe Manufacturers

The B.N. Morris Company of Veazie, Maine, was in business for approximately thirty-years. Charles and Bert Morris began building canoes in the barn attached to the family home and a separate shop behind this building and began selling them commercially from 1891.

Bastien Brothers were located in Village des Huron (formerly also Loretteville, now called Wendake). They were one of many First Nations builders in that region. For at least part of their history they were marketed under the name Big Chief Canoes. The firm still exists (as of 2012), but only manufactures moccasins and snowshoes today.

James G. Brown (1851-1920) was a former housebuilder/developer who constructed many homes in Lakefield, Ontario. J.G. Brown also worked on and off for his mentor, Thomas Gordon. He is said to have had an argument with one of the Stricklands (the Strickland family had early on invested in T. Gordon Canoe Co.) and quit his job with T. Gordon Canoe Co. In the mid 1870s he purchased a property on Water Street and made a first attempt at producing canoes.

It is not clear exactly when the Carleton Canoe Company was founded. Page 168 of the “Vital Records of Old Town, Maine Prior to 1892” (ISBN 0-89725-289-6) shows that Guy Carleton was identified as a boatmaker when he married a schoolteacher named Flora on November 30th, 1876. Page 24 shows that their daughter Marjorie Babbidge Carleton was born on November 20th, 1886 and Guy was identified as a canoe manufacturer at that time.

The Chestnut family started marketing canvas canoes in the late 1890s in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The early Chestnut canoes were modelled after a canoe built by B.N. Morris, and indeed, these early canoes clearly show the influence of Morris canoes. Chestnut incorporated in 1907 as the Chestnut Canoe Company, Limited. The Chestnut factory burned down in December of 1921, and was quickly rebuilt. 

The Detroit Boat Company was founded in 1906 and went out of business in 1916. The company was noted more for its power boat production, but did build canoes, apparently throughout the period it was in business.

Durand Manufacturing Company of Rochester, New York, was in business in the late 1890s (and certainly by 1900) and closed in 1903. They built canoes, St. Lawrence River skiffs, and launches. They were noted for a foot-powered propulsion device that was installed in their launches.

Evan H. Gerrish may have been the first person to sell wood and canvas canoes commercially. From 1882-1909, he built and sold canoes from a shop in Bangor, Maine. Some of his canoes contain elements of the birch bark canoes upon which they were based. If studied from earliest-to-latest, Gerrish canoes appear to show the morphing of the wood-canvas from its roots in the birch bark to the modern open gunwale canoe.

Edwin White was one of several prominent canoe builders of Old Town, Maine. Born in 1869, he started building canoes around 1885 at Gilman Falls, Maine. He may have built bark canoes at first, then transitioned to canvas covered canoes, which were developed around that time. In 1895, his brother George and Alfred E. Wickett were working for him.

Faber & Company produced canoes in Loretteville, Quebec, until the late 1970s or early 1980s. The company still exists, but only manufactures snowshoes.

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