Voyageur Wood Strip Canoe Plans

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Voyageur Wood Strip Canoe Plans

Postby Tom Jablonski » Fri May 21, 2004 9:29 pm

Anybody know of a designer that sells plans for wood strip voyageur size canoes 24-40' lengths, capacitys from say 4 to 12 people? Any input is appreciated.

Tom J
Tom Jablonski

Postby Dean in Eureka, CA » Sat May 22, 2004 12:18 am

Hi Tom,
You might try Alan Bridges at
You will need to click on the home page to get his phone number and or address as he doesn't have an email address right now.
His look like glass sections joined together. If he will sell you the plans, I'm sure you could strip it.
Everything will be OK[img::][/img]

Dean in Eureka, CA
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Postby Todd Bradshaw » Sat May 22, 2004 4:16 am

I don't know of any specific stripper plans, but you'll find lines drawings, construction drawings, etc. for several original birchbark versions between 20' and 36' in the book "The Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America" by Adney and Chappelle, published by the Smithsonian. The drawings are accurate enough that it's possible to blow them up, do a bit of reduced-size test lofting to check fairness (sometimes you may need to loft a few additional stations to get enough support for stripping) and start cutting forms. Be aware though, that the original Voyageur canoes were nearly always paddled while heavily loaded. They have narrow bottoms and flared sides. If you build one to plan, toss in half a dozen paddlers and set out for a day trip you will most likely find it to be one of the most tippy canoes you have ever seen. Stick a couple thousand pounds of gear in the bottom, sinking it to a wider waterline beam and it's a totally different boat. Best option seems to be adding a cigar-shaped section to gradually widen the hull for recreational paddling, increasing the waterline beam 8"-12" or so, depending on the model and size. That's what I did when I built this one back in 1975.
I recently bought it back and it's sitting under a tarp out in the yard. It needs a bit of clean-up and minor repair to some gunwale trim, but it's kind of fun to get a boat back that you built 29 years ago!

Another option is to modify and enlarge an existing regular canoe design that has somewhat more vertical sides and a broader bottom. I've been doing some long distance cinsulting with Rollie Johnson who has harnessed the energy of his church youth group to build three 27' North Canoes and then take trips in them. We spent a fair amount of time looking at the designs in the book and at just about all the common stripper plans, searching for one which had the basic proportions that we were after to get a decent lower hull shape - onto which we would add the high ends and sheer line of a real North Canoe. It was a toss-up between just starting from scratch and designing the whole boat, or modifying an existing design. After a lot of back and forth e-mailing, drawing, calculating and plan-measuring, we ended up right back here! The boat that we finally decided to use as a design starting point for our fleet of overgrown trippers was Bear Mountain's 17'9" Freedom. The numbers seemed right in the right places when enlarged to the size needed and the overall shape is cosmetically reasonably similar to the original boats. They aren't done yet, so we don't yet know how well they'll work, but photos that I got from Rollie a couple months ago look quite promising.
A couple other issues to consider: The construction of one of these boats needs to be substantially heavier than anything most folks are used to building. Strips 5/16"-3/8" thick and glass lay-ups on the order of 25 oz. or better, inside and out are to be expected. Finished boat weights of 250-350 lbs. would also be typical. If you tag a submerged boulder at four or five knots with six paddlers aboard, you had better have a strong boat. Fiberglass clarity is going to be marginal with that kind of lay-up, so you might want to plan on painting the boat. By far, the hardest part of building one is figuring out how to construct the ends and to get them to look right. The top of the stems comes back on itself and is a closed area which has to be worked into the rest of the sheer line, gunwale structure, etc. Once you figure out your approach, it's worth building a full-sized "test end" - like the first couple feet of the boat, to see if your ideas work. I used to have the one I built before making my canoe stuck on a plaque and hanging on my office wall. When someone would ask, I's just say "Yes, I shot that one in Quetico last summer."

So that's the scoop unless somebody knows of anyone selling specific stripper plans for Voyageur canoes. It can be done from existing stuff, but takes some design work and a lot of figuring. It's probably not a good first boat, but after you've built one or two (I think mine was my second or third boat) it's do-able. By the way, they're fun to paddle, too.
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big canoe

Postby Doc in MN » Sat May 22, 2004 10:55 am

Al Gustaveson at NW Canoe sells a 24ft canoe. I imagine he also sells the plans. His email address is on the wcha site.
Doc in MN

big boats

Postby Don Flowers » Sat May 22, 2004 11:52 am

All of Western Canoeing's big boats started out as strippers. They may be willing to sell plans (or not -- they did put a lot of time and money into developing their boats) Anyway, the web site is
good luck
Don Flowers

large canoe plans

Postby jcolten » Sat May 22, 2004 6:42 pm

NW Canoe's web addr is ... it contains a "contact us" link.

MN Canoe Assn (MCA) used to sell plans for a 20 ft hi volume "family canoe". I don't see it list at their website now. But ask Al at NW Canoe's about that one too ... I believe he's MCA's current building director.
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Thanks for the responses.

Postby Tom Jablonski » Sat May 22, 2004 10:19 pm

Hello folks. Sure do appreciate everyone taking the time to give me some ideas. Not sure this is something I really want to do or not, especially at this time, but was just wondering if there was anyone selling plans for these types of boats. Just wanted to get an idea of boat specs, material costs, etc. Might be something I would be interested in pursueing in the future. Not sure I want to get into experimenting with designing a canoe on this venture, (especially on such a big project) and was hoping more to use somebody elses plans that are tried and true. Anyway, I will check out all the references you folks gave and see where they take me.

Enjoy the paddling.

Tom J
Tom Jablonski

just a factoid

Postby patrickdoty » Wed Feb 16, 2005 4:35 pm

Voyageur canoes were typically 36 to 40 some feet in length and were primarly used on lake superior, while a Northwest canoe is 24-35 feet long and were used on the larger lake and river systems in canada. Check out the grand portage monument sometime, they can fill you in on a very detailed account of what canoes were used...there is a guy there who still builds birchbark canoes. Another good resource is North House Folk school......
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Voyaguer Canoe

Postby Tom in MN » Fri Feb 18, 2005 9:23 am

Another thing you could try would be to take the 20' White Guide from Gilpatricks book and extend it proportionally to a 22' or 24'. I think this would be rather easy if you had the drawings on a computer. You could also just leave the width the same and stretch the forms a couple of inches each. Gil talks in his book about how a guy accidentally did this with one canoe when he put the forms on the wrong side of the 2x4 and didn't notice it until half way through stripping. He continued and it came out fine. This would add about 3.5 inches to the canoe at each form or about 2.5 ft total. This would stretch the 20' white guide to the length your looking for and have nearly the same lines as the white guide.
Tom in MN

Postby Guest » Fri Feb 18, 2005 9:32 am

Since you brought up the White Guide. Does anyone have any paddling experiences with this design? How does it handle rough water, etc?

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