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Vintage canoe research project.

History of the canoe.

Through a series of events, my wife and I have come to possess a vintage canoe which was owned by her late father. I started in 2005 trying to identify the manufacturer, manufacturing date and history of this beautiful canoe. It has been an interesting and at times frustrating adventure.

My research has put me in touch with several wonderful and well informed individuals. (See the dialogue page for details.) It is most likely the canoe was built by O. L. Hicks, quite possibly for use in his canoe rental business on the Humber River in Toronto, Ontario. This version, with the torpedo stem, resembles the design of his personal canoe which is in the possession of one of his grandchildren. As best as can be determined, the canoe was built in the 1910-1919 period.

It is possible the canoe was a copy of a Walter Dean design. Both builders had boat works opposite one another on the Humber River. It is thought the canoe may have been part of the boat rental business of O. L. Hicks (and later his son W. J. Hicks) which operated in the Sunnyside Beach and Humber River area of Toronto. It is believed my late father-in-law (Arthur Cartlidge) first came to know this canoe (named Dora) by renting it on several occasions.

He obviously liked the canoe and made an offer for its purchase. It was sold, not by O.L. Hicks, but by someone thought to be acting on his behalf, perhaps his son. The transaction took place on July 5, 1937 for the amount of $30 (Canadian). (We know these facts as we have in our posession the original receipt of sale.) Upon Arthur's death in 1996, the canoe passed to his wife. Upon her death in 2003, it came into the joint possession of their three children. It is currently stored in Ottawa, Ontario.

After the sale, the craft is believed to have sailed on Lake Ontario and the Humber River. In 1940, the canoe traversed the Trent Canal between Atherley and Port Severn, Ontario. The following year, 1941, the canoe was used again on the Trent Canal between Orillia and Port Severn. (Again, these are know facts as we possess the original season passes.) There was a family cottage at Brechin Point on Lake Simcoe (Ontario) and the canoe may have been based there for some years.

Arthur Cartlidge and his family relocated from Toronto to the Bay of Quinte near Belleville, Ontario in 1950. The canoe was used regularly on Lake Ontario.

In 1959, the family relocated to Ottawa, Ontario. The canoe was used on the Ottawa River and was transported on family vacations to various camping spots or cottages around Ontario and Quebec.

The canoe was last used on water in 1976. Since then it has been stored inside an unheated garage. As the photos in the gallery show, it is in excellent shape. It has undergone some modifications to its original construction.

What is documented on the other pages related to this conoe are details of the efforts to positively identify the canoe and determin the date of manufacture.

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Date of last revision: 2022-08-06
Material Copyright 2022 David Darwin