Thompson Brothers Boat Manufacturing Co.

Serial Number Format - Usually no serial number present. There has been no pattern established for those that do have a serial number.

Dating Thompsons - So far, no good way to date Thompsons has been discovered. One possibility that has been suggested is that earlier canoes have a brass nameplate fastened to the deck, and that '50's era boats have a chromed nameplate. So far my own observations seem to support this theory, but it is still up in the air, as they say...

The following table was put together by Dave Osborne, who culled the information from the Thompson Bros. Catalog CDROM for the Hiawatha model. While using it to date canoes might require the assumption that different woods weren't substituted, it can serve to help narrow down when your Hiawatha may have been built.

Hiawatha Materials Matrix
by Dave Osborne
Year Thwarts Seats Gunwales
1921-1923 White Oak White Oak Spruce
1924-1928 Selected Maple Selected Maple Spruce
1929-1937 White Maple White Maple Spruce
1939-1941 White Maple White Maple Mahogany
1942-1943 Mahogany White Oak Mahogany
  • In 1921, the Hiawatha was only offered in 16' and 17' lengths.
  • 30" decks made of cedar or mahogany were offered in all years.
  • Catalog image shown in 1941 and later show narrower style half-ribs. (rumor has it the half rib style changed in 1938).

Deck Profile - Usually as above. Decks with a shallow single-lobe are also known (see photo below), as are long decks.

Deck Strap - The presence of a metal strap beneath the deck, spanning between the inwales, is usually a characteristic of Thompsons. See photo below.

Gunwale-Stem Junction - The inwales terminate on the inboard face of the stem, and the endgrain of the stem is exposed. The outwales carry along the sides of the stem (and outer stem if present).

Planking Pattern - Thompsons have a very distinctive planking and goring pattern; when the canoe sits upright, the planking appears to run in a straight line parallel to the keel, unlike others such as Old Town that turn upwards at the stems. See photos below.

MODELS OFFERED
ModelYearsLxWxDStem ProfileHalf RibsNotes
Hiawatha1921-194616 x 33 x 13
17 x 34 x 13
18 x 34 x 13
Long-NoseYes 
Indian1907-1927 15 x 32 x 12
16 x 33 x 12½
17 x 33 x 12½
18 x 34 x 12½
TraditionalNo 
Indian1928-ca.1950 15 x 32 x 12½
16 x 33 x 12½
17 x 33 x 12 ½
18 x 34 x 12½
Long-Nose No 
Indianca.1950-195916 x 35 x 12TraditionalOptionalSame as 1937-50 Ranger ?
Voyageur1910-ca.191415 x 32 x 12
16 x 33 x 12½
17 x 33 x 12½
18 x 34 x 12½
Traditional Built on same mold as Indian of same era.
Ranger1937-ca.1950 15 x 35 x 12
16 x 35 x 12½
TraditionalOptionalSimilar to 1907-28 Indian
Rangerca.1950-1959 15 x 35 x 12
16 x 35 x 12½
17 x 35 x 12½
TraditionalOptionalFlat Sheer
Agawamca.192216 x 36 x 13  Like Indian
Canadianca. 190715 x 32 x 12
16 x 32 x 12
17 x 32 x 12
Traditional Low sheer
Hudson Bay Canoeca. 193616 x 35 x 13Extreme at EndsYes 
Camp Canoe1936-ca.1939 16 x 33 x 12¾
17 x 34 x 12¾
Long Nose 3" Tumblehome

Notes:

Stem Profile:
Traditional refers to the common, sweepingly recurved stems found on most wood canoes, such as the Old Town Otca.

Long-Nose (alsoknown as shovel-nose or sturgeon-nose) has its curve concentrated low down on its stem. This stem profile is also seen on many Ojibway bark canoes and the Old Town Molitor.

Half-Ribs:
Present, absent, or optional as noted. There is always the possibility that half-ribs were installed in Indian model canoes, but I haven't seen reference to them in the catalogs (yet).

Dates: Subject to revision.

Changing Models:
Earliest Ranger and latest Indian both similar to earliest Indian, but note different given dimensions. Still, could have been built on the same form.

Early Ranger same as latest Indian - probably used same form just changing the name. Latest Ranger probably built on same form as early Ranger and latest Indian, but with a different sheerline.


Thompson Decks
Typical Thompson deck profile. Underside of deck has a reverse ogee (cyma reversa) moulding profile Deck removed showing strap found beneath deck.
Different deck style occasionally seen on Thompsons. Yet another variation of the Thompson deck cut-out.

Thomspon Planking
Thompson planking appears to run parallel to the keel.