Saturday 31 January 2015

The Peterborough Canoe Co models: the High-end and Low-end Champlain

From left 1940's High End Champlain,  Early 1920's 604. Late 1920's 16 S. all of them built on the same form.

During winter, work slows down a bit and so do visits to the store and shop. However,  
most  Saturday mornings see customers and visitors drop in. Some stay around for a cup 
of coffee and canoe stories around the warm wood stove. Recently, one of my visitors wanted to know, how many different brands of canoes I had worked on, which were they and which model of them was the most common.

So I checked through my old files and notes; it all added up to a list of forty one names of old  famous canoe makers and some lesser known ones which had passed through my shop.

The most common ones are;
  1. Chestnut Canoe Co
  2. Peterborough Canoe Co
  3. Lakefield Canoe Co
 I     I was not surprised that the Chestnut Canoe Co and Peterborough Canoe Co took the 
 lead with Lakefield Canoe Co as a distant third. Those three companies, together, 
 produced an incredible amount of canoes over their life span and my shop is located right 
 in cottage country just north of Peterborough and Lakefield. As to the most common 
 models I have worked on, here is the group that was way ahead over the rest.
  1.      The 16’ Low End Champlain #1492 from Peterborough Canoe Co 
  2.        The 16’ Pal from Chestnut Canoe Co. 
  3.        The 16’ High End Champlain #1434 from Peterborough Canoe Co.
The visitor who asked the questions got very excited when finding out that the 
Peterborough model, the high end Champlain, had made the list, as it is the canoe he paddles. He now inquired, did I know how long time this model was in production and 
did I know anything about its background? 

Here is a little bit of background on the Champlain models.

Peterborough High-end Champlain and Peterborough Low-end Champlain

The Peterborough Canoe Co. model the "Champlain" showed up for the first time in 1936  in two versions, the “High-end” version with the model number 26P and the “Low-end”  version with the model number 26C. They were, however, just new names on models that  had been built for quite some time.The P stands for the Pleasure model and the C stands  for the Cruiser model. The monikers  High-end and Low-end has nothing to do with the  quality of the canoes, it actually describes  the height of the stern and bow. 

The Champlain models became the company's most popular canvas covered models.

The  Champlain High-End

The "High-End" Champlain model was produced between 1936 and 1955. In 1939 its model number was changed from 26P to #1434. However, before 1936, this model was actually called 16S or the Special and had been introduced for the 1923 model year as a less expensive model to their top of the line 604 model. (The 604 model changed name to the Otonabee in 1924).

16 S model, Peterborough Canoe Co.

The  Champlain Low-End

The Low-end Champlain was recommended for use in camps, tourist resorts and boat liveries where a light, stable and easy-to-portage canoe was desired. It was introduced in 1936 with the model # 26C. So was this really a new model? No it was not! 

It was introduced for the 1924 model year as the Algonquin (first grade) and the Huron (second grade). In 1936 it became the Champlain 26C and in 1939 the model number was changed to #1435. In 1942 the model number changed again, this time to #1492. 

The model Low-end Champlain was available until the end of 1962, when the Peterborough Canoe Co. went out of business. It is worth noting that the Peterborough Canoe Co never built the Low-end Champlain model. It was built for them by their sister companies Chestnut Canoe Co and occasionally by the  Canadian Canoe Co. This Peterborough model is actually the same canoe the Chestnut  Canoe Co built and sold under the names Ajax, Moonlight and after 1954 with the name  Pal.


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