Wood and Canvas Canoe Restoration

I live in the tri-state area (NY/NJ/CT) and I purchased an old (probably about 30 years old) wood and canvas canoe at a garage sale. It is in desperate need of interior and exterior restoration. Does anyone have any information about any companies within approximately 100 miles of NYC that restores wood and canvas canoes? Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Wooden Canoe Heritage Association

Look in the builders and suppliers directory. There are too many candidates to list here

Or do yourself. It’s not that hard. Your canoe is not old. There is advice on the forums

We’re doing a 105 year old canoe

Wood and Canvas Canoe Restoration
To Kayamedic - Thanks for the link and for your suggestion. I’ll take a look at some of the forums regarding the restoration of this type of canoe. My biggest problem with doing it myself is that I don’t really have enough room in my house to undertake a project like this. But sometimes, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Thanks again.

I also mentioned
The builders directory. For those who do not want to do DIY

What make and model?

– Last Updated: Jun-01-15 5:55 PM EST –

What do you have?

How hard it is depends on the nature of the work that needs to be done, and your woodworking skills.

Housatonic Canoe Shop
Try this guy in Hamilton


The closest
I know of is Al Brstton of Woodstrip Watercraft in Gilbertsvillr PA. The re is also a guy in Branchville NJ. Schuyler Thompspn in CT is also a possibility

The guy in Hamilton is near Utica. I looked him up as I wasn’t aware of a Housatonic Boat shop. He must have moved and kept the name for business sake

Schuyler Thomson in Norfolk Ct.
is a good choice. It would probably be next winters project though at most shops, busy time.

Lots of diy types here,


Options for restorers…

– Last Updated: Jun-02-15 1:38 PM EST –

Looks like you've been given several possible restorers options.

Based on my experience with a 1965 Chestnut Pal, I would advise the following:

1. Do a lot of research & decide "exactly" what you want done to your canoe. Make a list(a copy for you & a copy for the restorer), and be very exact/specific

2. Do not accept the first restorer who tells you what they think you want to hear regarding a work completion time frame, and actual cost.

3.Take lots of photos of the canoe; expecially the ares that need repair. Show these photos to the restorer before your boat is turned loose & detailed restoration cost (not a guesstimate)is given to you.

When I first started trying to find a restorer; several of them quoted me exorbitant cost estimates. They generally treated me like I'd "just fallen off the turnip wagon".
Several acted as if I should just "forget about it"; my boat was not worthy of restoration, or their precious time.

A friend finally turned me onto one of his acquaintances who knew an honest, and trustworthy restorer who lived in Canada. The guy hauled my boat to the restorer in Canada. We was going there to check on a canoe the restorer was working on for him. About 5 months(many phone calls & photo exchanges later), my boat was completed. My wife & I did a mini Canadian vacation, and picked up the canoe during that trip.

The restorer did an outstanding job. He even provided me with a photo album showing each step of the restoration process being done. The bill was very specific with regards to time & material.
I ended up paying about half of what the holier than thou(your boat is not worthy) restorers I'd contacted in the U.S. quoted me. The restorer's wife even baked a cake for us. We had tea, and cake on their screened in porch prior to our departure.

A great experience, brought about by an honest & highly skilled restorer, and the help of a friend of a friend. I still own a beautiful, red, Chestnut Pal, and still believe it was a "worthy" of restoration boat.

Others restoration experiences may vary.
I have just described mine.........


…I didn’t realize that some of those contacts told you that beautiful boat wasn’t worth restoring? I’m glad you “Endeavored to persevere” because she’s a beautiful boat!

Not to imply that there are no “Good” folks in the US or that everyone in Canada is like your restorer, but that seems to be the “Canadian Attitude” I’ve often been privy to? I’ll remember that when my “Pal” needs a little professional beautification.


when a restorer says your boat is not
worth restoring, he/she may be being totally honest with you.

Folks get all hung up about their precious wreck. Sometimes it is better put on the fire.

Its got nothing about their attitude regarding “worthy of their time”.

A friend of mine restored canoes and one came to him in pieces… Only the canvas held it together. Brass tacks all corroded… The customer INSISTED on it being restored.

Its harder than making a new one… so at the estimate of $8000 which would pay the restorer less than minimum wage…the customer finally came to their senses.

The folks that are member builders in the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association are trustworthy… Their rep depends on it. They need repeat business. WCHA has builders in the US, Canada and the UK for the most part.

Its always good to get multiple estimates but the lowest may not be the best…

My Chestnut…

– Last Updated: Jun-03-15 11:41 AM EST –

These were the issues with my Chestnut.

4 ribs were cracked/replaced
2 small pieces of planking were cracked/replaced
bow decking crack was repaired
new canvas & repainting
both seats recaned
painter rings replaced

It was not a basket case by any means. Could have been paddled in the condition it was in without any problems.
Cosmetically it was kind of ugly at best.

A couple of restorers in the United States quoted me prices "in excess" of $3,000.00 for the work.
One quote was for over $3,500.00.

The cost of the restoration in Canada, plus all expenses for the trip to pick up the canoe (gas for round trip, all meals, motel, snacks/misc.) cost me about $2,500.00 dollars. That left me with over $500.00 in my pocket, when compared to lowest quote I got from U.S. restorers.

Have to admit that catching a good exchange rate on money did help me a little.

I looked at the restoration cost(labor & material sheet) this morning. Total cost was $1,247.00 Canadian/$966.00 U.S. There is a big damn gap between $966.00 U.S. and over $3,000.00 U.S.
Still sounds like price gouging to me.

I'm sure many have had great experience with restorers in the U.S. Good for them.
I have simply related my experience, which was not good.


Not starting a war
but the blanket thought that US restorers were out to gouge you is not true.

How many did you contact?

Blanket statement…

– Last Updated: Jun-03-15 12:33 PM EST –

Not making a blanket statement about U.S. restorers banding together to price gouge me, or anybody else for that matter.

I contacted 5 or 6 different restorers if I remember correctly; it was 12 years ago, and I was not counting.
None of my talks with any of them was productive in my opinion. Most of what I got was "show me the money"! $3,000.00 & more was a lot of money in 2003, and it still is.

Then one of them gave me the line, "I'm not going to waste my time on a canoe that isn't worthy of restoration".No, he didn't want to see photos of it's condition. He wouldn't even suggest someone who might be interested in doing the job. That was the straw that broke this camel's back.

I knew the canoe was not a basket case, and felt like a nearly 50 year old Chestnut Pal was worthy of restoration. I didn't think it was a waste of time either. Still feel that way.

I hadn't rejected any price at the time he made the "waste my time", "not worthy" statement. No price had been suggested at that time. I thought that guy was a prick; told him so, and still think he is/was.

Glad I got lucky with a friend of a friend and found a decent restorer. But overall the experience taken as a whole soured me on buying another wood/canvas canoe that needed any restoration work.

Again, my experience. I'm sure my experience was a totally isolated incident........NOT!


w/c canoe
If it is a garage sale find you have nothing to lose by trying to work on it yourself. If you are not careful it will cost $5,000 for a pro to fix it.