Thompson 1950’s Thompson

To view current and past restorations please go to the submenu in the sidebar.

“How much is my old wooden canoe worth?”  (Notes from the WCHA that will help you answer the question.)  If you are considering a restoration with the intent of turning a profit on the canoe, spend your money elsewhere.  Restoration is an act of love not fiscal responsibility!

1937 Old Town Guide

Repair or Restore?

There are two basic directions you can take with your classic canoe: repair or restore. Repairing a canoe is generally a minimalist approach to getting the boat back on the water but it can involve extensive work if the boat is in bad shape. We will do repair work on a canoe that doesn’t need a full restoration but we will not do a cheap restoration job.  A prime example of a repair job is a solid canoe that needs a new canvas but is otherwise sound.  Restoration involves returning the canoe to its original condition to the greatest extent possible. The beauty of wood canvas construction is that every component used to build the boat can be repaired or replaced as needed.

Restoration Process

A restoration starts with a conversation – we’ll discuss your canoe and make sure we both understand the ultimate goal.  Detailed images (see guidelines below) will allow us to estimate the project but a firm quote is not possible until we can properly evaluate the canoe.  Each project represents a unique set of challenges.  What looks like a basket case to you might be a fairly simple repair and yet we’ve already had “needs a little work” eat up way more time and materials than expected.  Every effort will be made to accurately determine the scope of work required but often there are hidden issues that don’t appear until after the canvas is off.  The estimate is an educated guess until we can dissect the boat and turn that guess into a quote.

Your $500 deposit secures your slot in the lineup.  You will receive a progress invoice for 1/3rd once we start on your canoe and another once the filler is on your new canvas.  The final 1/3rd is due upon completion.  We work on several canoes at a time to accommodate curing stages etc. but the restorations begin in the order in which they are accepted. Major rebuilds take far longer than simple recanvas jobs so canoes don’t exit in the same order they enter the shop.  All estimates, quotes, invoices, and payments are processed using QuickBooks to keep track of the details.  To summarize the restoration path, here’s what will happen:

  • Discuss the project and ultimate goal, send detailed photos so we can do a preliminary evaluation and estimate for your approval.
  • Submit $500 deposit along with signed estimate, job gets entered into the schedule of work in progress.
  • Once the canoe is in our hands we will evaluate it and the estimate will be turned into a quote for your approval. We may remove the old canvas as part of the evaluation – this should not be interpreted as “they’ve started on my canoe!” It goes back on the rack to await its turn.
  • Once we’ve started on it you will receive a progress invoice for 1/3rd of the balance and can follow the progress in the Shop Update section. Any issues we missed during the evaluation are on us.  Any changes you desire that result in additional cost will be added to the quote for approval.  You will receive another invoice for 1/3rd of the project once the canoe is canvassed and filled.
  • Payment of the balance is due upon completion.
  • Cost of the restoration does not include any shipping charges unless specifically quoted. If you’re not picking up your canoe we can arrange for delivery or contract with a hauler that specializes in getting paddle-craft delivered intact (very important)!  Sometimes we handle pick-ups or deliveries ourselves if it fits into our travel schedule.  Your cost will be determined based on our load and proximity to other stops.

When will my canoe be completed?

Approximately three months after we start on it.  If you need a date please continue your search for another restoration professional willing to make that commitment.  We make every effort to keep the pipeline moving in an orderly fashion.   A proper restoration is complete when it is finished and not before.  Success depends on many variables: weather, temperature, humidity, pollen, dust, and life’s various obligations.  Targeting a date is asking us to potentially cut corners and that is something we refuse to do. Most canoes throw a couple of surprises at us and each affects the entire pipeline of work.  With about two years of work in-house it is impossible and unfair to target a specific completion date.  Have faith that your canoe will be given the care it needs to return to its former glory and we will keep you updated along the way.

Guidelines for photographing your canoe

Usually a few basic shots that we can zoom in on will give us what we need to come up with an estimate.  With the exception of the long shot that gives us a look down the rails, the other shots should be at a slight angle for best light and to avoid reflection.

  • Overall quartering shot
  • Close-up of both ends
  • Close-up of obvious damage
  • Both seats
  • One from an end sighting down the length of the canoe so we can judge the curve of the rails.  Any hard spots or breaks in a fair curve indicate problems.
  • File size should be at least 500kb to allow for detailed inspection but not more than 1mb or the file size will choke email.  If you have large files and aren’t sure how to resize we can accept them via DropBox.  Please send images as attachments, not embedded in the body of the email.


Restoration of a canoe rarely makes financial sense.  The cost often exceeds the market value unless the canoe is very old, rare, or both.  Your quote will show your cost.  Our professional restorations are labor intensive and average from $3,000 to $6,000 or more.  A solid canoe that just needs a new skin will cost around $1,200 (canvas, filler, paint plus sand and varnish the rails).  Shipping your canoe via KAS Transport (specialty paddle-sport carrier) will cost at least $300 each way.  If you are considering restoring a canoe for immediate financial gain, invest your money elsewhere for you are sure to be disappointed.  On the other hand, if your canoe is a treasured family heirloom that you want to see put back right again, you’ve come to the right place.

Some more “after” images:

1960 Old Town 50 lb


1994 Cedar Island Cheemaun


The last known 12′ Morris fully restored


18′ Old Town Guide

Site Meter