What Is the History of Old Town Canoe Company?


Quick Answer

The Old Town Canoe Company has been a fixture in Old Town, Maine, since 1898. Incorporated in 1901, the firm specialized in making canvas-covered wooden canoes for decades. The company introduced a square-stern model in 1917, which allowed an outboard motor to be attached. A few years later it started selling Johnson outboard motors. Aluminum canoe makers forced the firm to start using lightweight polyethylene during the late 1980s, just to stay competitive. The first kayaks were produced in 1995.

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Full Answer

Old Town Canoe acquired the Carlton Boat and Canoe Company back in 1910. Barely a year passed before the Carlton factory burned down, and all canoe making shifted to the Old Town site. The company continued to sell Carleton canoes until the 1940s.

S. C. Johnson bought the firm in 1974 but kept the Old Town name, and a decade later, White Canoe was acquired. The Old Town conglomerate was sold to Johnson Outdoors in 2004, with an agreement to keep the company based in Maine.

Old Town continues to make its classic wood canoes, right alongside the lightweight polyethylene ones and the kayaks. They may be ordered with canvas or fiberglass coverings, are still handmade, and are among the most expensive watercraft in the company's inventory. As of 2015, an Old Town old-fashioned wooden canoe costs almost $9,000.

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