Mad River canoe ID

I’ve been toying with the idea of trying a solo canoe, and just saw this in the local CL. What am I looking at?

Thanks for your help!

It Ain’t

– Last Updated: Jul-30-12 8:57 PM EST –

The hull looks like a FiberGlass Liberty, 14'8"X 29.5" or Independence, 15'8" X30" or maybe a Slipper, again 14'8" X 29" none of which has ever been 14 feet long.

The seat is ~contoured. If stock it probably indicates a later hull, i.e. Liberty or Indy, I don't remember that the Slipper had that seat or the later scuppered decks either.

Hard to tell from distorted pics, but Slipper is a symmetrical Bob Brown design from the 80's, The Indy a Swede form Jim Henry design from the 90's.

Liberty started life as a heavy glass Indy with a foot cut out of the center. It had more rocker than Indy, hence was a better boat

A tape measure and an undistorted look at the bottom will tell all.

Looks Like a Slipper
AKA Ladyslipper. It went by both names, they took “Lady” off after a few years. Small person or ladies solo canoe. WW

Can’t ID the canoe…

– Last Updated: Jul-30-12 8:45 PM EST –

Can't ID the canoe for sure.
Looks to me to be over 14 feet in length; looks closer to 15 feet.
Probably older model of Mad River canoe.
Does not appear to be much used, and looks to have been stored out of the weather?

I know this:
If that canoe were within 150 miles of me, and I was looking for a solo canoe; I'd be talking to the owner, and trying to set up an in person viewing asap.

If that hull, the wood trim, and those 2 paddles are all in good condition, with no damage........I'd be all over that boat like white on rice. I might try to bargain it down 50 dollars, but I'd have the full asking price, in cash, in my pocket when I went to look at it.

If you go for a look/see; check it out closely for any damage. If it isn't damaged; I think it's a nice deal. Those paddles are probably worth at least $100.00 by themselves.

It may not last long.


Could be a Slipper.

It’s a Liberty

If Anyone Could ID It From a Photo…
…this is your man! Here’s a link to it.

I had found that link, but still was having a hard time deciding if it was a Slipper or Liberty. The owner has yet to return my email, so no news on that front.

If it is indeed a Liberty, how appropriate is this boat for a complete canoe newbie? I have years of kayak experience, but the only canoes I’ve paddled have been pack canoes.

I have an Indy and, at 210 lbs, the
Liberty is too small for me, but if that canoe had shown up in my neck, I’d be on it like a fly on fudge.

I haven’t paddled the Liberty, but the
Slipper was my first solo canoe and I found it rather easy to manage as a solo canoe newbie. The gunwales were just a bit wide for me, but it’s handling was predictable. Mine was Carbonlite 2000, not the usual composite, so it’s handling may have been a bit different the the usual composite Slippers.

Seller just called
It’s a Slipper, no damage or repairs. I’m going to see it tomorrow. At 5’3" and much less than 210, it should be a good fit.

Thanks for your help guys!

Please post the serial number…
…once you’ve got it.


Good luck!
Slipper or Liberty, if it’s in as good condition as it looks, you can’t buy comparable build quality new for less than three times that amount today and I’d be willing to bet you’d quickly learn to love it. Keep a boat like that in good shape and, when you’re ready to trade up, you’ll get your money back.

The paddles…
I thought perhaps someone else besides me might mention the paddles?

I’ll bet they were purchased when the canoe was originally purchased.

From what I can see in the photos; they appear to be rarely used, like the canoe.

I’m wondering who made those paddles???


Shaw & Tenney beavertail.
They both look like good paddles and may be a good fit for both gnatcatcher and the canoe.

If the S & T is spruce, all the better.

The Slipper has landed…

– Last Updated: Aug-01-12 10:12 PM EST –

She's now on saw horses in my garage. Here's her story...

The woman I bought it from is the second owner; she had purchased the boat from a dealer in Michigan, where it had been traded in on a tandem. The gunwales and decks show absolutely no rot, but are a little dry. The seat and thwarts appear to be more recently varnished. The seat also appears to be dropped about 3/4" and is not angled downward as can be seen in the 1993 archive.

There are some scratches in the gel coat, which is to be expected in a boat this old, but they're not that bad. It was always stored indoors, so there's no fading or oxidation at all. The seller hadn't paddled it in around 5 or 6 years, more into motorcycles, diving and SOT's.

Her serial number is MADJX264H091. What does this tell me about the boat? A '91 model year made in '90?

As for the paddles, the beavertail is indeed a Shaw and Tenney Penobscot, 60 inches long and 30 ounces by my kitchen scale. I believe it is spruce. I do not know the manufacturer of the bent shaft paddle; all I know is that it is extremely light, 48" and 22 ounces. Both paddles appear to be the right size for me. Now all I have to do is learn how to use them!

Buying this boat was a leap of faith, as I've never even paddled a solo canoe aside from double-bladed pack canoes. We'll see how it works out!

Thanks to all of you for your advice and insight.

The seat frame and twarts would have been varnished originally, while the rails would have been oiled. Re-oiling once or twice a year is normal maintenance protocol and is easy. Seat adjustments can come later as can any outfitting. Meanwhile, just enjoy it.

Congratulations! I predict you’ll pick up single-blading quick enough and that you’ll love the boat. You got a good one.

The Slipper should be a pretty tolerant boat to learn solo canoe paddling in. The main challenge I had with mine was the relatively wide gunwales.

Have fun learning.