The Rice Lake Canoe Company, Circa 1910

Photo courtesy Northumberland County Archives: Charles Clay Family Fonds

ON PAGE SIX OF THE RICE LAKE CANOE COMPANY’S CATALOGUE, THERE IS A description of Herald’s Patent Canoe – the pride and joy of the company. The cedar canoe’s unique construction garnered international attention at two World Exhibitions and was considered to be the best canoe in its day. Further proving its mettle, in the first regatta of the American Canoe Association in 1880, Gore’s Landing resident, T.H. Wallace, won two races in his Herald’s Patent canoe.

The owner of the canoe patent was Daniel Herald, an Irish immigrant and shipwright. His first canoe factory – the Herald Canoe Company – was built in Gore’s landing, on the shores of Rice Lake. The company was renamed The Rice Lake Canoe Company in the 1880s.

The catalogue advertises Herald’s Rice Lake Canoes as having “the greatest possible strength, stability, lightness of draught, speed, facility in paddling and buoyancy under load”. The canoes were unusual in their construction: they were formed by a sheet of painted canvas sandwiched between two layers of thin cedar planks and held together with 7,000 copper tacks.

Despite its strong reputation, the company folded in the 1920s. New, lighter canoes that could be more easily repaired and maintained had come on the market and interest in the Herald’s Patent Canoe waned. What remains is a piece of local history.

[Summer 2019 departments]