Preserving a piece of Ontario canoe heritage

Dear Forum,

Last summer I purchased a vintage canoe (circa 1973) by Pinetree Canoes Ltd., of Barrie (originally), then Orillia, Ontario. I am the second owner; the first being from Kemptville area - the man’s son sold it to me in August 2019.

It is an Abatibi model in 15 foot length with 36 inch width, ash gunwales, cherry decks, maple thwarts and rawhide seats. The most interesting part of this canoe is that the Pinetree medallion on the front deck is actually printed with both Barrie (Pinetree Industries) and Orillia (Pinetree Canoe Ltd.) in overlay. A real collector’s gem!

In October I visited Glenn A. Fallis of Millbrook, Ontario to take a look since his company, Voyageur Canoe Ltd. took over the assets of Pinetree in the late 1970s. Glenn was wonderful to speak with. His experience is second to none.

The canoe is in pristine condition. The only sign of its true age is that the gunwales had a repair. Glenn mentioned the old aluminum screws used by Pinetree would get stuck and break. He commented the repair was done properly with the new aluminum fasteners going directly through the rails.

We also made an interesting discovery - this canoe is fiberglass! It was sold to me as a Kevlar canoe. It weighs 50 lbs on the nose. Glenn indicated that Kevlar was only starting to be used in 1974/5 time frame. The original owner apparently had this canoe in the 1974 season, which means it was fabricated earlier.

My question to the forum is: what is the best way to repair and preserve the inside of this canoe since the fiberglass, from normal wear and tear, is an irritant to my young kids legs? The sides are still slick, but the coating on the bottom is a bit worn.

Furthermore, the canoe “sweats” when it is first put into the water. Glenn admitted he had never seen this phenomenon before. We put the canoe in the pond behind Glenn’s Millbrook factory. It is not serious, however there is a constant moisture build-up from the waterline down until at some point the canoe becomes dry after being in the water and sun. Afterwards, it just stays dry.

My new (vintage) canoe is a piece of Canadian heritage and I definitely want to do right by her. Any exchange of ideas, experience and information would be greatly appreciated.

Happy canoeing!


Sounds more like a wood boat pre-glass that needs to swell up to seal up.

Mad River Canoe was using Kevlar in 1973. So the 1974 date is erroneous for all canoes but perhaps not this manufacturer. It does not have the weight typical of a 15 foot 36 inch wide fiberglass canoe. It does not have the interior appearance of either s glass weave or speckled chopper glass. It does look like a Kevlar interior. My 15 foot little roly poly Swift Otter has similar dimensions and weight ( at 50 lb)but is a mix of glass and Kevlar Its pretty common for canoes to never be all one material especially Kevlar boats and Kev is typically used for the inside blanket and glass partials at high stress points like stems.
No matter though; don’t do a surgical analysis! Glass was typically painted on the inside for the reasons your kids are experiencing. Marine enamel or varnish ( which would look nicer) should solve the skin irritation problem

Thanks Kayamedic! I’m not a pro on materials. The irritation tipped me off to the glass. Thanks again. George

Is the interior abraded area fuzzy or little sharp pinpricks? Both are kind of irritating.

Hi, I wouldn’t say it is actually fuzzy.

The way my daughter describes to me it sounds like same effect as insulation, which I have some first-hand experience with. She explained that after being in the canoe, she went into the lake to wipe her legs down with water, but felt it all down her legs and stopped (presumably the fiberglass hairs). So again this led me to believe there was fiberglass.

When I visited Voyageur Canoe, the first guy thought it was Kevlar (forget his name), but upon inspection they (Glenn and other) said it was glass. Maybe you are right that it is a mix.

Varnish would help or marine paint… either way,. Glass interiors used to always be painted. You really don’t want itchy or worse skin

I have a 16 footer made of Kevlar and epoxy about 45 pounds great boat