Bell Canoe

Whats up with Ted Bell? I heard he was out of he canoe business for 8 yrs and now back at it?


River Touring - Phoenix - 14’6"
I’ll be interested to see what that boat looks like.

He sold Bell Canoes to ORC
which was a company ill suited to making canoes. They folded, sold the molds to no one… I heard waiting for someone to pay their high asking price, put the molds in mothballs.

Meanwhile Ted moved on. Hence Northstar Canoe.

Yeah, the Phoenix looks interesting.
The Northwind Solo looks like an interesting option for larger paddlers.

Ted Bell was legally prohibited . . .
. . . from being in the canoe business because of a seven (or so) year non-compete clause he signed as part of the ORC sale. When that expired, he apparently copied and perhaps tweaked some of the Bell Canoe designs.

Originally, his new company was called Bell Composites, but I guess he recently changed its name and physical location.

He’s back at it
I have his version of the Magic, great canoe.

what is…
Whats this company then??

That’s the Old Bell Canoe Works

– Last Updated: Aug-14-14 5:48 PM EST –

The old website is still active.

The site can be useful though, for canoe shoppers who want some idea of the load capacity of a prospective boat. Some companies won't list load capacities, and others list load capacities that are ridiculously high. A good alternative is to find a canoe on the old Bell website that has very similar dimensions to the boat in question, then check out the figures for waterline versus load. How deep the canoe sits in the water with a certain load tells you a lot more about load capacity than some company's arbitrary rating, or no rating at all.

I think you will find that Ted
is not cheating nor tweaking/twerking more than anyone else ever did… Carl Yost I have been told is doing some of the new designs.

Who said anything about cheating?
It’s perfectly legal in the USA to copy a hull design unless it’s registered and protected by the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act, which no Bell canoes are. And, yes, everyone has always copied designs and will continue to do so. No touring canoe hull is likely ever to meet the qualifications for protection under the VHDPA.

My understanding is that the Northstar Magic is virtually a clone copy of the Bell Magic, but that Ted Bell’s Northwind has had some tumblehome tweaked out from the Bell version.

Just out of curiosity -
where did you hear that ORC folded?

ORC did not fold
They did decide that making Bell boats was no longer in their best interest, had no takers at their asking price, and then ceased production of canoes.

Ok - that makes more sense.
ORC could not make a go of it in their non-profit business model with the manufacturing side of the Bell Canoes business and so they stopped the bleeding by ending production. I assume they were trying to sell the name and “good will”, not just the molds?

Northstar Canoes
Hello all,

My name is Bear Paulsen. I’m working with Ted and did so for 7 years at Bell Canoe too.

I’d like to clarify a bit. ORC/Bell Canoe does indeed own the Bell molds. David Yost owns the designs and names. David is happy to see Ted back at it. The shouldered flare has been removed from the dedicated tandems (anything 17’+) for ease of loading, dryness and ease of manufacture. The Northwind 16 can be soloed and so has shouldered flare. The Magic was built from the original plug. The Northwind Solo and Phoenix are both new designs from Carl Yost, David’s son. Look for more in the future.

To find out what’s new sign up for our e-newsletter at We’re on facebook too.

That was what I meant to say
but I realized that when my post was inaccurate the page would not load.

Done posting. Computer pages take 30 minutes to load on satellite Internet in North Ontario!

Thanks for the clarifications and…
welcome to

Thanks, but “owns” is a technical . . .
. . . legal subject.

Dave Yost doesn’t “own” the design to any canoe unless that design is validly registered under the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act. I didn’t see any canoe designs registered under the VHDPA in his name the last time I looked, and in 2009 he told me he had never registered a design. In any event, the VHDPA does not protect any design publicly marketed before 1997 and the protection for validly registered designs expires after 10 years.

In short, any hull can be legally “splashed” in the USA unless the design has been registered under the VHDPA, a proper statutory registration notice is displayed on every canoe put into the market, and the 10 year period is still in force.

The only commercially available canoes or kayaks I recall seeing registered are some Epic Kayak hulls. (The PTO maintains a list that seems to be buggy right now.)

Dave Yost also doesn’t “own” any canoe model names unless he has a valid trademark under the federal Lanham Act or under a state trademark act. I don’t know whether he has, but I tend to doubt it. A trademark search is easy.

Yost likely owns copyrights in any canoe plan drawings he originated, but that copyright only protects him against unauthorized copying of the plan documents, not from someone splashing the design from a plug or hull.

Northwind 16 black gold
I just purchased one from Raquette River Outfitters. It is a 2014, a beautifully made boat hullwise. My only quibble is that the ends of the seat are rough cut and unsealed, which is something I will fix.

At another retailer, who shall remain nameless, I saw two “Bell” canoes that were poorly made – in one the floor cloth was awry and in the other there was a noticeable indention on the hull. Perhaps the two poorly made models that I saw were blems from the previous incarnation of the company.


– Last Updated: Sep-18-14 10:34 AM EST –

I bought a MAGIC ...CF/Kevlar hull...and love the boat very much. I am an experienced paddler, mostly tandem, and feel very much that I will be able to grow into this boat and that it will teach me things. I also like saltwater and have no hesitation about taking this one out into some light seas. I have the wood gunwales option, and I am a wooden boatbuilder, and am very happy with their work.