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Which canoe to build?

Apr 25, 2022
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Southeast Wisconsin
Having completed my first stripper last fall, and falling head over heels for the entire process, I'm starting to gear up for another build. My goal is to have everything ready to go as soon as the temps are consistently warm enough for safe stripping (glue-up). That, and my wife asking me this morning: "Are you going to do another canoe?...Have you started buying materials?..." Sounded like a green light to me, so I'm going to strike while the iron is hot so to speak.

My first stripper was a Prospector-16. Why I picked that one? I'm still not entirely certain. It was one of the boats in CanoeCraft, and I liked the name & description is about all I can say. I used the table of offsets to generate my own CNC code, and cut the forms on a CNC router. I'd like to do the same for this build, but I want to be more intentional with which canoe to build.

Which leads me to the question: Which canoe? I'm looking to do a tandem canoe, primarily designed for flat water lake paddling I'm in Wisconsin, going to be mostly paddling our lakes. Think BWCA, our lakes are similar in size & paddling. Not quite as rocky. Most likely not a serious tripping canoe, could see a max of a week long trip. I'm going to be conscious of weight, and trying to make it on the light side, but I'm not looking to shave every ounce possible. I'm looking at something in the 16 foot range. Again, I have the Prospector-16. What would be a good complimentary canoe?

As always, thanks for any and all suggestions.
Two boats come to mind as long time favourites:
- the Kipawa (16'6"), designed by John Winters with plans available from Green Valley Boat Works is an awesome tripping boat, strips easy and is fast and nimble on the water, with good stability and load capabilities.
- the Freedom 17 by Steve Killing with plans available from BearMountain Boats, is another awesome boat, nice build, stable fast, predictable

Have built both, have tripped both .... IMO you couldn't go wrong with either one

So you can get the idea of the lines
The Freedom 17


and the Kipawa


Just my $.02

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I second the Kipawa. It will be very different from the prospector, but serve the same function. It was the second canoe I built many years ago, and it was a good, fast tripper.
Has anyone built any of the Peterborough designs? I was looking through BearMountain plans, as a starting point, and saw they have plans for a "Peterborough Canadien".

Reason I ask, I have an old Peterborough wood & canvas that some day I'll restore. It was my dads, he's long gone, and I ended up with the canoe. It sees very limited water time, because it needs a restoration. It does paddle like a dream. I've been doing research on this specific canoe. It has a stem number 1448 9778, so should be post 1940. But there seem to be discrepancies. I found this site: https://woodencanoemuseum.org/builder-history/peterborough-canoe-company that indicates it was built in 1941, but it also has a decal indicating 75th anniversary. If the company was started in 1892, that means 1967. Can't be. Dad died before that. The length is close to that indicated on the website, but not exact. The beam is also off from specs listed.

Sorry, getting side tracked here. That got me thinking, perhaps I'd like to recreate that canoe, or build a different one following the Peterborough company lines. Only plans I can find are for the "Canadien" sold by BearMountain. If anyone knows of a source to buy table of offsets for any of their designs besides the Canadien, I'd greatly appreciate it. Not ruling out that boat, but I'd like to look at others. Who knows, maybe I'll recreate my own table of offsets from the existing canoe. that seems alwfully time consuming, especially to offset for stripping to get station form profiles.
Thanks guys for the input. I've reached out to both companies you suggested. The Canadian (or Canadien) is based off of a Peterborough design. I'm certainly not opposed to that design, and several of the others mentioned. I just want to be a bit more intentional with this design selection that I was the first.
I don't think doing the offsets to replicate your Dad's boat would be that hard... certainly harder than buying plans but, at least in my opinion, that might be the kitty's butt. I wonder if something like this would get you there...
But there seem to be discrepancies. I found this site: https://woodencanoemuseum.org/builder-history/peterborough-canoe-company that indicates it was built in 1941, but it also has a decal indicating 75th anniversary. If the company was started in 1892, that means 1967. Can't be. Dad died before that.
I have a Trapper with this decal. I believe it was used in the 1954-1955 timeframe.

The Peterborough Canoe Company started as the Ontario Canoe Company in 1879, a claim that is stated in the Peterborough catalogues on the Wooden Canoe Museum website. PCC measured its anniversary from 1879, as you can see from the 1939 catalogue, which touts the "60th Anniversary, 1879-1939." This would make the 75th anniversary in 1954. That is consistent with what @Fitz posted above. Perhaps this solves your dating dilemma.
Thanks guys. The 75th anniversary dilemma seems solved. Still the stem # discrepancy, but I can get over that. Time to go back and re-read Cruiser's thread. Not sure If I'm perhaps mistakenly putting blinders on trying to recreate a piece of nostalgia. May end up with a canoe that's less than ideal. But then, guess I'd just make another.

On a side note, my brother asked me the stupidest question imagineable: "Why would you want to build another canoe?.....You can only paddle one"
Ok, I've started the seats, gunwales, and accent design ideas. Going to start machining strips some time this week. Time to get serious about picking a boat. I was originally leaning towards copying the Peterborough wood & canvas canoe I have. It's a 15 footer, and I'd probably stretch it to 15-6" to 15-9". Then looking at Bearmountain designs, they have the Huron Cruiser. specs of beam, etc. seem to be very similar to my wood & canvas, just slightly bigger, and it fits right in the top end of my target size.

Anyone ever built this boat? Any feedback?
I know you want to build another tandem.

How about a solo ? With a tandem, it's best to line up a partner. Not always easy to get schedules to line up. Now with a solo, you can go at the drop of a hat. Your wife can also serve as a shuttle driver ! Mine does all the time ! Bless her !
Solo paddling lets you relax, and enjoy nature, far better than when two people go.
One of the main reasons I get out on the water, is to relax.
Cost and time involved is far less with a solo also.

Just my two cents worth.

There are a ton of tandems out there, and you have some very good suggestions !

Enjoy the build ! I often started this time of year. By the time warm weather ( July ) came? It was perfect for glassing !

Yeah, Jim, I thought about that. If I do a solo build, it would more likely be a Kayak. I don't see myself doing solo tripping, though I understand there are many that do. That's one thing l like about the Peterborough I have. Small enough for a single paddler to paddle it solo ("in reverse") should the "need" arise. I know this isn't as good as a solo boat design from the beginning, but for the amount I'd be solo paddling it would be fine. My solo paddling likely wouldn't be more than a half day from the dock, or a weekend on the Turtle-Flambeau flowage in Northern Wisconsin.

I'm starting to lean towards "just pick one, and build it". I'm already fairly certain this won't be the last one either..... I do want it to be a useable boat, but I'm fairly certain any plan I find will be. Just a matter of how well it fits my wants & needs.
Well, I have to say, to those of you that suggested the Kipawa, I more or less dismissed it without much of a look. I guess I'm a bit of a traditionalist, and I favor the "Canadian" look, with the high bow & stern. That being said, the Kipawa does get pretty good reviews every where I look. I'm going up north for the next week to make syrup, and that's where my Peterborough wood & canvas canoe is. I'll probably set it up to create tables of offset data, and I'll hum and haw about which one to build. At this point, I'm leaning heavily towards the Kipawa. In either case, I feel the need to make a decision and move forward. Worst case, I enjoy another build, and gear up for yet another. I'm already running into questions with trim work that can't reasonably be answered until I have a better idea on the boat design.

Hopefully in a week, I'll be done with this thread, and starting a new build.
Brian: My money says it doesn't matter who starts first. You'll have yours in the water, with a few trips on it before me.