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      OT Canadienne rebuild     



member (14)member
05/05/2017 02:47PM  
So year of the canoe for me. After having 2 canoes the last 17 years (OT Tripper and OT Cascade) I have now bought 4 boats off craigslist. First was a beautiful condition OT Penobscot 17 to replace the Tripper. Wife and myself did our best time in the Kenduskeag this April in the Canoe. Then came a $50 MR Quest with cold cracks that I fixed and gave to my son for his Birthday. Then a $150 Mohawk 13 which is about 15 pounds lighter than the Cascade for easy throw on the car.

Posted a couple months ago a plan to buy a lighter boat, and got some great thoughts and I still may follow that course if the Canadienne is not to my liking, but for me I have a big project on my hands.

Found a $50 1980 Kevlar OT Canadienne on craigslist and drove right out and picked her up. Saw this boat when I went to the Old Town factory store in the '70's with my dad. What a beauty she was. Definitely a show boat with all of her brass. Well at $50 mine is a bit of an ugly duckling. All of the wooden parts will need to be replaced. One of the foam end floats appears to have some pest damage, leaving the deck plate on for now as the gunwales are only still attached at the ends and I want to keep as much shape as I can. Will need to replace fiberglass on one end float. One deepish gouge on the bottom and some scratches, but in good shape. Bottom hull care will come after the wood has been replaced.

Good news is that Island Falls Canoe has the plans for the deck plates and can make the gunwales in the next several weeks. Choice of Spruce or Ash for the inwales and the outwales and I elected for Ash with a lap cut to overlap the hull (existing gunwales just sandwich it) for both. Choice of Ash or White Oak for the end plates and I elected for Oak for the wood contrast.

Looking to outfit seats and thwarts through Edscanoe. Leaning towards the ash, cane bucket seats, but not set yet.

I have the existing seats and can get a rough idea of their placement from them. I will likely follow Cliff's thoughts on layout to guide me.

If anyone has a 17 OT Canadienne and could measure position of 2 seats and thwarts and any comments on how you might change them that would be great.

Any thoughts at all on seat, thwart placement are great. Planning on 3 thwarts plus 2 end carries like Cliff suggest. Thinking to push the carry thwart a bit ahead of center to make sure she carries a bit tail heavy. Like the looks of the cane bucket seats, only used OT plastic bucket seats before. They were ok, but if you have an active dog not so much. Any thoughts on Ed's bucket seats are great.

So long as not too much of the end tank foam is not damaged I am going to use the can spray foam insulation to fill the void.

Have some good marine grade varnish and I will thin the first coat and do at least 4 coats to all wood surfaces.

Will reuse the brass end caps, but will not use brass (or are they bronze) screws like the original. thinking maybe fingernail polish to mask the silver look of the ss screws.

Here is the canoe wrapped up in the rain.

$50 canoe is looking a lot like a $600 canoe when I am done and maybe more. My guess at the finish weight based on the supposed build weight of 58 pounds (was that wood or aluminum gunwales, 2 or 3 thwarts?) is 62 pounds.
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distinguished member (490)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/05/2017 06:53PM  
I have Ed's Canoe cane bucket seats in both my Bell Solo and my Wenonah Tandem. I opted for the cherry model.

I love, love, love them. They are very comfortable. A nice contour but not as deep as the Fiberglass Buckets they replaced on the Wenonah. Those buckets were not the same shape as my "bucket." LOL

They have just enough contour to them to keep folks centered in the canoe. My bow paddlers have a tendency to scoot toward the side they are paddling on and I'm always telling them to move back to the center. Not any more.

So far the cane is holding up nicely. How durable it will be remains to be seen.
distinguished member(522)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/05/2017 07:17PM  
Here's a picture of a Canadienne build that I did in the early 1980s. It was a new hull that I bought from a dealer that had not been fitted out at all. The dealer bought it with the intent to build a sailing canoe but he never got around to it. Perhaps you can get some idea of the thwart and seat locations from the picture. I do not remember where I got the specs. It was a fiberglass hull and as I got older it got heavier until I sold it a few years ago.

distinguished member(5366)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
05/05/2017 09:35PM  
Can't help you with the specs, but I too have always used Ed's Canoes for parts, seats, etc. What they don't have in stock, they can make for you.

We test paddled a Canadienne at a little boat shop in Stevens Point, WI in 1990-91? Really liked it and always regretted we didn't pick that one up because I never saw another new one for such a good price. And it was a really nice tandem canoe. I think you'll appreciate it? Looking forward to seeing the finished product!
distinguished member(606)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/05/2017 10:41PM  
I've got a 1989 Canadienne and would be happy to take any measurements may need. As far as changes to make to the seat/thwart placement, there is nothing I can think of changing. It's a great boat.

FYI, Kevlar with gel coat, aluminum gunwales and cane seats = 56 lbs on my boat.
member (14)member
05/06/2017 05:36AM  
Thanks everyone for your thoughts, they are much appreciated. Photo helps and hope I come close to that. Long ways to go and I am not the most handy.

Big Current please send on measurements of a center tape pull. Only the end plates and the gunwale sections either side of them remain for attached wood. Font bow seat: Front bow thwart: Front yoke: Front stern thwart: Front stern seat: Total length: Width bow thwart: Width yoke: Width stern thwart:

From the photos and everyone's comments I really like the quality of Ed's canoe pieces. Always been a fan of the look of the arch seat support they include with the package. Going to get all my parts from Ed's, wholesale prices and great customer service.

Received an email yesterday that Ed would give me a call today to talk about a sliding bow seat. I know it was an option back in the day for the Canadienne. And seemed like the best to have. And since I was outfitting the boat from scratch I figured add it in for the "quality". Part of my thinking was to be able to push the bow person back so the boat could be weighted different in bigger lake waves. Rethinking the sliding bow seat because of cost, weight and complexity. Seems except for racing canoes the trend has been away from the sliding bow seat of my past.

member (14)member
05/10/2017 08:24AM  
Ha so Ed sold the company a while back. Called shop yesterday and ordered kit in ash with 2 thwarts and the bucket cane seats. No on sliding bow seat. Should be showing up in a few days. From the photos, I really like the quality of the work. Will add photos once they show up.

Big Current is going to send on measurements from his Canadienne and i will check with Island Falls if they have the plans.

So plan goes roughly like this-input welcome.

Find and mark center of canoe on both sides. Find and mark center on both inwales. Determine screw pattern offset from existing and use drill press to drill screw holes.

Use Petit Captains varnish to cover inside and downside of all 4 gunwales, oak end plates, cut ends of seats, thwarts, yoke.

Remove old wood and repair damage to foam end ballast.

Clamp rails and work towards ends.

Router outwales. Multi varnish outside and topside of all the gunwales.

Patch and refinish hull.

Goal: August lake camping
distinguished member(522)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/10/2017 08:44AM  
Here's another source for the specs. on the Canadienne. Last year I went to the canoeing event that Northstar did on the Red Cedar River. Around the campfire that night Ted Bell mentioned that they (Bell Canoe) had built some Canadiennes for Ralph Freese after Oldtown stopped production of the boat. They might be able to provide some specs.

member (14)member
05/10/2017 12:27PM  
Thanks Bill, I knew Bell Canoes made some Canadians, but i did not make the connection to contact him at Northstar.

More photos to follow.

My big concerns in the next few weeks are:
1. How much do I pull in the hull of the boat with the thwarts-placement and length.

2. Do I need to worry about movement of deck plates due to expansion contraction?

3. Getting the gunwales on without anything cracking.
05/09/2018 11:59AM  
Did you ever get around to the OTC Canadienne rebuild?

It is a wonderful boat for tripping and simple leisure paddling. Some complain about initial stability when empty (like my wife!) but I find it very forgiving. It paddles fast and is pretty nimble. My dad bought one from Ralph Frese in the late 80's I believe. It was Gel Coat fiberglass layup with ash and mahogany gunwales and deck plates, with brass end caps and fleur de lis accent on side - Ralph's calling card. I inherited this boat a few years back in very sorry condition. All of the wood was rotted and the glass/get coat was in poor condition. I developed a passion to restore this beauty to her former glory.

I could not find any plans or an outfit to make the gunwales/plates that I could affordably have shipped. So, I did my own rebuild this past year. I couldn't source mahogany locally that I could make work so I opted for Cherry and Ash. I bought ten foot planks and had them ripped down to roughly 3/4" by 3/4" for the gunwales. I used the same material for the deck plates by alternating the cherry and ash strips, gluing them together and cutting the plates to size. The hardest thing for me was turning the ten foot sections into 18 foot sections for the entire run of the gunwales. I used a long scarf joint to spice them together using tite bond 3 wood glue. This worked out great. I was able to reuse the original brass hardware, diamond head hangers and brass end caps. I bought stock cherry seats and a yoke and cut them to size. While not original by any stretch, this boat turned out beautiful. Everyone who sees it comments on how beautiful she is.

If anyone is interested I can post pics of the rebuild and offer up anything I learned along the way.
05/09/2018 12:06PM  
WHendrix: "Here's a picture of a Canadienne build that I did in the early 1980s. It was a new hull that I bought from a dealer that had not been fitted out at all. The dealer bought it with the intent to build a sailing canoe but he never got around to it. Perhaps you can get some idea of the thwart and seat locations from the picture. I do not remember where I got the specs. It was a fiberglass hull and as I got older it got heavier until I sold it a few years ago.


Wow! That is a beautiful Canadienne. Great work! I rebuilt one recently, nowhere near this caliber, but I am very pleased with it nonetheless. A great Tripper and stylish lady!
05/09/2018 01:48PM  
The canadienne is a classic, mine unfortunately is fiberglass, military grade, heavy as heck. I measured the seat positions, measurements are from the tip of the canoe, straight over inwale to the middle of the bolt nearest tip. Bow is 61” stern is 40.5 inches.
distinguished member(522)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/09/2018 06:07PM  
Thanks OTCBill. The Canadienne is a sweet paddling boat. I often wish I still had it. As I mentioned, it got to be too much for me to carry (it is fiberglass).
11/11/2020 10:06AM  
11/11/2020 10:06AM  
How did you make out with spray foaming the floats? I was gifted a free 1989 fiberglass layup Canadienne. Some of the fiberglass around the floats is cracked but all the fiberglass is still intact. I also may have some pest damage in the existing foam - there were grubs and dirt coming out of the floats when I cleaned it up.

Do you have any suggestions on which brand of foam to use- (I'm assuming closed cell is probably best)? Do you have any other tips to accomplish foaming with minimal mess? I thought about drilling small holes in a few areas of the float fiberglass to insert the spray foam nozzle.
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