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bushrat's items3 of 39Recently arrived7 ' Chestnut Canoe Co. store display sample model, c. 1910
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    Posted 9 years ago

    (39 items)

    I was recently invited by an elderly couple in their late 70's to visit their farm and appraise a fabulous 13' wooden cedar strip canoe built by the late Walter Walker, in 1974. This couple both had suffered from health issues which had greatly restricted their use of this fine canoe, and made further paddling pleasure unlikely. In fact, it had not seen water in over 20 years, but had been carefully stored, dry and out of the weather in a barn. I found it covered in dust, a bit of bird dirt and some muddy wasp nests, but sound as the day it was made.

    Walter Walker, a legendary Canadian canoe builder, died 4 years ago nearing the age of 102; he built his last canoe at 99. Watercraft made by him are highly prized 'collector items' today. The owners were well aware of this; they personally bought the canoe from Walter in the mid-1970's for use on their small farm pond and needed an estimate of its current worth. One or two other parties had looked at it before I got there, but passed. I did not go with any intention of buying, but simply to offer a fair opinion of its value, after first consulting with a couple of other dealer contacts on recent sales info. Its value had increased ten-fold in the time they had owned it. I simply enjoyed the chance to see it, and did not even ask to be compensated for my appraisal time or the 3-hour round trip.

    However, once there, I did think it might just suit my desire to find a smaller, lighter canoe for my own purposes, so was thrilled when I was told they would be happy to have me buy it, if I wished. It came home with me two days later, after a second visit and due consideration by both them and me. It then had a bath and went for its first paddle in over two decades.

    Cleaned up rather well I would say!!!

    Thank you Donna and Ian for taking such great care of it over the years.

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    1. pickrknows pickrknows, 9 years ago
      Awesome find bushrat, what a great story!
    2. cindyjune cindyjune, 9 years ago
      That is an awesome canoe! I bet the paddle was the best ever!
      I have a 1949 Old Town, canvas and mahogany and cane seats. Boy they knew how to make them didn't they? Congrats on a great find!
    3. ho2cultcha ho2cultcha, 9 years ago
      beautiful canoe! had there been any shrinkage or was any repair needed?
    4. bushrat bushrat, 9 years ago
      Thanks to all for the kind comments. Over the years of collecting things, I have found that it is not just the 'stuff' I find, but the truly interesting, wonderful folks I encounter along the way, and their stories of their life experiences. The lady who owned this canoe turned out to be a literary expert and amazing collector in her own right; her husband had two great antique cars which I was privileged to sit in for a few moments. Wish I could own them too!!

      The canoe is in wonderful condition; repairs were not needed, but a handful of copper tacks could stand to be replaced at the stem ends of a few cedar strips where they have loosened slightly due to dryness. That is not unexpected for canoes of this style and age. There was no shrinkage or separation of seams. What you see in the above photos is the canoe just as it came from the barn, and just as it looked after its bath; nothing else was done other than to wash it.

      Shorter canoes like this can tend to be a bit 'tender' or tippy unless one gets the cargo weight low in the canoe; it's much better to kneel than to sit on the seats. My lady friend and I found that out to our chagrin; we promptly dumped it as we pushed away from her dock. After a good laugh and bailing it out, I paddled it solo, and it was great. It's the sort of model that will likely work best with a single occupant in a folding canoe seat on the mid-floor using a double paddle, much as one would in a kayak. It will be very fast and handle easily.
    5. cindyjune cindyjune, 9 years ago
      Great story. Ican't remember how many times I tipped mine over. It is 17 feet long and very tippy. You are not alone!
    6. bushrat bushrat, 9 years ago
      I also have an 18' Old Town HW (heavy water) AA grade 1949 sailing canoe with sponsons - virtually impossible to tip or to sink. Great fun, but much too heavy to go out often. In beautiful condition. Also a 16' J R Robertson 'courting canoe' 1915 or thereabouts, in fully restored condition. You can see these and much of my 'sample model' collection at: Enjoy.
    7. cindyjune cindyjune, 9 years ago
      Great site bushrat! Thanks for referring us to it!

      The canoe I spoke of has much sentimental value. It first belonged to my Grandfather, who was a game warden in this area from the 1930's -1950's.
      It was actually called a 'wardens" canoe because at the time it was very common to have a canoe slip up behind poachers or illegal fishermen. As young man my grandfather could manage that long canoe alone, carrying it down a hill or putting it back up on his car. I would love to have mine restored but haven't found the place to do it yet.
      Your 'sample models are wonderful!'
    8. bushrat bushrat, 9 years ago
      You can find a list of excellent canoe restoration/repair people on the pages of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association: At least two of these are in MA, and others are close by in the New England area. Dylan Schoelzel, Jerry Stelmok and Rollin Thurlow are a few of the recognized leaders, but many other competent craftsmen are listed. Often, there is a long waiting list, so be prepared to wait patiently; the results are usually well worth the time and investment. Check around, get several quotes, look over the work being done for others, then decide if it's for you.
    9. cindyjune cindyjune, 9 years ago
      Thanks so much! I will check them out carefully. I would love to see my canoe in it's original glory again!

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