Almost 30 years ago, I began collecting antique model canoes and kayaks, mostly native-made items from all over the world. This was an off-shoot from a passion for vintage hunting decoys. Later, I turned to factory-made 'display samples', often called 'salesman's samples', produced by the early Canadian and American builders. My indigenous collection has now gone to museums and other friends. I continue to search for antique factory samples, and am fortunate to have found some of the finest items anywhere (see Display Samples page). Below are a few photos showing my collecting journey (more at Canoe History). Enjoy your visit.
My inquisitive mind has usually compelled me to try to learn more about what I collect - background details: reasons for existence, dates of manufacture, volume of production, etc. I believe both in sharing such information as well as discussing/debating what I believe I have uncovered, all in the interest of accuracy and the furthering of our understanding of these objects, about which all too often there is a lack of historical record or documentation. In the notes which accompany my photos, you will find references to "production volume", "dates of manufacture", etc. These are, at times, estimates or 'best guesses', based upon what I believe I have learned over the years. They may be open to challenge; your input is always welcome. Here, for example, are some thoughts I have developed in relation to Peterborough Canoe Co. decals, of which several different versions have appeared over the years. Because most documentation regarding that company has long since disappeared, the chronological 'trail' has had to be deduced by other means. The following is my perspective on the likely sequential order in which PCC decals were used over the years. Dates are flexible, but may help to indicate a time frame during which an article to which they are attached may have been made. However, decals can be copied or reproduced; they can be added later in an attempt to make something appear to be older. For what it is worth, I offer the following as a guide. In origin, Peterborough decals 'follow-on' from its predecessor, the Ontario Canoe Company (1883-1892). PCC rose from the ashes of the fire which destroyed OCC. Both companies actually trace their roots back to 1879, when Col. J Z Rogers bought the canoe patents and manufacturing operations of John S Stephenson; thus, both refer to that date as their actual inception. The original OCC decal was a red oval shape surrounded by a Clansman's belt (Scottish heraldic symbol). Below, I lay out the progression over the years as I believe it to be.
24" replica (2000) of a 'Head' canoe, NWC c. 1750
32" Atikamekw birchbark model, Quebec, c. 1932
38" sealskin kayak, Belcher Islands, Hudson Bay, c. 1910
a fabulous find from the South Pacific: 22" double-hulled sailing canoe, Manihiki, Cook Is., c 1890
I'm often asked for assistance in identifying and/or evaluating a model. I'm pleased to try to help where I can. If you require an appraisal for donation, tax or insurance purposes, I do have extensive experience in preparing the proper documentation. Always happy to chat and meet new friends. Contact us.
Before I fell in love with model canoes & kayaks, vintage hunting decoys were my collecting passion.
Although many of my earlier things have been sold off, I do maintain an interest in high-quality indigenous models, even as I now concentrate on researching antique factory samples. Occasionally, I will have something available, or may know where a particular item can be found to suit a need. See my For Sale page or ask.
42" 4-hole sealskin baidarka, Alaska, c. 1900
Exhibits of historic 'display sample' canoes always seem to draw a crowd and elicit lots of questions.
THIS COLLECTOR'S PASSION ...... by Roger Young
1 Aug 2017