While paddling on a lake near Camden, Maine, I saw a beautiful canoe cutting across some open water and initially thought by it's re-curved ends, it must be a wood/canvas. Luck was with me that day when the paddlers rounded the point and put into the picnic area so I could get a closer look. Surprise; it was a 17' Canadienne in dark green with all the good stuff: kevlar hull, mahogany and ash rails, 18" combed mahogany decks, brass end-caps and painter rings, sliding bow seat...wow!
Since the lines of any canoe I own are very important to me, I studied this beauty from all angles. The owner, who was naturally very proud and willing to talk gave me his understanding of the boat's brief history. He also stated it wasn't the lightest kevlar canoe around, but easy enough to handle by himself. He also said he bought his used and sees them for sale occasionally. When I got home, I read the reviews on paddling.net and started looking but for some time, none were found. Finally, one came available on paddling.net, and it was the exact same boat I had seen in Maine, but in Red. AND, it was in brand new condition! I took the advice of one reviewer on paddling.net and snapped it up. All of the superlatives are accurate and; I drilled small holes in the end-caps, I will round the outside edges of the gunwales when I refinish the wood (some time in the future, because they're still like new) and I may lower the seats a little because we tend to paddle her with no load, so with her prospector-style hull, we sit pretty high. That said, we have not had a problem with tenderness, so I may just leave them as they are.
All in all, I love this boat, so if you get the chance...I wasn’t looking for a canoe but back in 1991, when a friend asked me if I would please “relieve” him of his 17-foot Canadienne, I jumped at the chance. He had it stored above his new car and when the Old Town fell on the mirror and broke the mirror, he wanted nothing to do with the green canoe. Needless to say, took it home that day I quickly fell in love with the boat. Within a week, I hauled the Canadienne up to Lake Arrowhead, California in front of our 1920 lodge on the water. The Old Town has just enough wood to give the boat a vintage look and feel yet not too much to create a maintenance nightmare (I used to own a 19-foot, 1948 wooden sailboat…).
Since I only use it during the fall, winter and spring, it has remained in relatively good shape. About every five years I spend a couple weekends stripping and re-varnishing the wood gunwales, thwarts and seats. I’ve recaned the seats twice. My favorite time to paddle is at sunrise when the air is cold and the lake is still and glassy. All I can hear is a light clap of water under the fiberglass and the peeps of coots and ducks.I have a 16'(?) fiberglass Canadienne that I picked up from a pawn shop in 1996 for $500. I've used it in Montana and Utah for 2 to 7 day solo class 1-2 river tripping, and travel with my child. The sliding bow seat always makes it very easy to convert to solo, by simply turning the canoe around. Also is very easy to trim up especially while traveling with a child that's half my weight. I've always received compliments on the elegance of it's looks. Both while on top of my car and on the way it travels through the water.
It is my first canoe and the cosmetic beginner abuse is apparent. I'm now again in love with it and would like to fix it up. I'm planning on ordering new wooden gunnels from the factory and replacing the aluminum gunnels. Has anybody ever performed this swap? If so, I'd be interested in hearing about your experience?I put myself to sleep dreaming over the Old Towne catalog and the Canadienne for about 5-6 years while saving my $$$ to buy one. By then I was convinced it was the ultimate canoe. The side profile was what a canoe should look like also. About that time OT quit making them. I was heartbroken and started looking for a used one. I mentioned this to the secretary of a canoe club I had just joined and she told me they had one for sale.
A match for both of us. To make a long story short, it's mine now. I refinished the wood trim and replaced the caning on the seats. A word of caution when storing them upside down. Drill a small hole in the brass cap to allow the water to drain out lest the wood inwales soak it up and rot. I replaced a short section when refinishing the wood and it looks like a factory job.
Handling is a dream come true. It's fast, very fast, carried a load well and responds to the slightest nuance of the paddle. It also gains initial stability if loaded well. I am headed to Quetico in July 2000 for 21 days and the Canadienne will lead the charge. She always does.You probably won't find the Old Town Canadienne listed in any recent product brochures because, from what I'm told, it's only available by special order from a couple of places, including Chicagoland Canoe Base (773-777-1489). This canoe is available in 17 and 18 foot models in either fiberglass or kevlar. The design of this canoe is outstanding. It has enough space for tripping, but it slices through the water like a knife and handles beautifully as well. In the three years that I have owned it, my wife and I have never (not a single time, I'm not exaggerating!!!) been passed by another canoe while canoing on rivers - and we are just cruising leisurely. I had to laugh one time when a couple of young guys (in much better shape that us) in another canoe yelled, "Hey, there's speed limits on this river, you know" as we glided past them. They were paddling hard while we were just cruising.
This canoe handles extremely well with it's moderate rocker. For us, it's just about the perfect compromise design for nice tracking on lakes and nice turning when needed. A great deal of thought went into it's design and the experienced eye quickly recognizes the beautiful lines of this canoe at a glance, even when on the roof of the car. In fact, it very often attracts canoe enthusiasts attention when they see it. In never fails to generate positive comments.
We chose the optional mahogany trim, which is beautifully done. However, I rounded off the square edges last year before re-varnishing them (they didn't need it though). We like this canoe so much, in fact, that we are thinking of buying the 18' kevlar version (our current 17' 2" model is fiberglass). It's an great tripper and a great cruiser. If you are interested, you can call Chicagoland Canoe Base, owned by the designer of this canoe, or you could call Old Town. But, be warned that Old Town does not publicize this canoe. In fact, when I talked to them, they pretended like they didn't make this canoe any longer, but when pressed they admitted that they are still available. They are, perhaps, one of the only hand laid up fiberglass or kevlar designs that they still make - but on special order only. They saved the mold for this canoe. After admitting that this canoe is still available, the guys at Old Town raved about this canoe. It was the all-time personalfavorite of the man that I talked to at Old Town and he said that it is one of the fastest canoes they have ever made, racing canoes excepted, of course.
It's truly a great canoe. Next year I plan to do a 1 month solo trip in Quetico with it.