Posted 2 years ago
While the public often refer to these smaller canoes as "salesman's samples", that term is really a misnomer in the case of factory-made miniature canoe samples. These items were really meant for static store display - i.e., to be hung from walls and ceilings, or sit on counter tops, not for carrying about the countryside. Most were between 3' and 8' long, and not all that many were actually made. In Canada, early canoe factories made very few, perhaps no more than a handful each. In the US, some factories made a few, but others, such as Kennebec, made 60 recorded pieces, while Old Town likely made several hundred. All-in-all, they are fairly rare items.
Above, from left, a 30" wide-board, wide-ribbed model by John S Stephenson, c. 1870. Stephenson was one of the earliest North American builders of board canoes, and worked in Peterborough, ON, as early as the 1850's; second, a 36" wide-board, rib and batten model by the Peterborough Canoe Co., c. 1900 (PCC was a successor owner of Stephenson's patents and technology); third, a 72" wide-board, rib and batten sample by the Rice Lake Canoe Co., Gore's Landing, ON, c. 1890-1900. (Rice Lake Co. was a successor of Daniel Herald, who began in 1862, and was a competitor of Stephenson); fourth, a 32" wood/canvas sailing canoe model resembling the work of William English, c. early 1900's. (Wm. English began making canoes in the Peterborough area in the late 1850's/early 1860's, another competitor of Stephenson, Herald and Thomas Gordon.)
The invention of the board canoe - meant to replace dugouts (through lighter weight) and birch bark canoes (through greater strength) - was eventually succeeded by the wood/canvas canoe. The above samples demonstrate somewhat this technological progression.