Sunday, December 21, 2008

Old Family Canoes V

Concluding my 2001 article in "Wooden Canoe" (after Phil reported that the canoe didn't look like any of the canoes pictured in the article I sent him):
This temporarily stumped me, but I remembered that I had a copy of the 1982 WCHA reprint of the 1908 Morris Canoes catalog. The pictures and text in this reprint resulted in a positive identification of the canoe. It turns out that it is a Model A, Type 1 Morris canoe with heart shaped decks, open gunwales, and five-inch "braces" (thwarts) all of mahogany. The center brace is removable to provide a space of 70 inches for a passenger in a canoe chair. A folding canoe chair in like-new condition exactly like one shown in th the catalog (Style No. 1) is stored with the canoe. Also, there are two original Style 2 Morris spruce wood paddles. The canoe still has the original floor grate.
According to the price list in the catalog the canoe was priced at $42. The mahogany open wales added $5 and braces of mahogany $1.50 more. The paddles were $1.50 each (second quality for $1.25), and the folding mahogany and cane seat was only $2.25. The grand total then was $53.75. Sometime prior to 1915 my grandfather bought it second hand so he probably got it for less. Using the modified "Dean-Brinker" formula for dating Morris canoes I calculate that the canoe was built around 1906 or 1907.
That the honeymoon canoe has been proven a Morris rather than an Old Town in no way diminishes its aura of bygone romance for me. If anything, it has been enhanced. For now in my mind's eye I can see my mother as a newlywed relaxing in that Morris folding chair while my proud father in the stern wields a Morris Style 2 spruce paddle.
Next: What has happened to the old Pratt family canoe since I wrote the article?
(emailed August 12)

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