Gerrish & Cherish

E.H. Gerrish, a canoe builder from Maine, is credited with building the first canvas covered canoes in the mid 1870s. His early canoes were transitional ones, based largely on the native birchbark canoe, while incorporating European boat building techniques. Some of these distinctive canoes are still around to this day.

Dave McDaniel, a wooden canoe enthusiast and collector from Upper Michigan, was fortunate enough to purchase an old 14 ft Gerrish canoe in remarkable condition. Still with its original canvas intact, it was given a coat of varnish inside and paint on the exterior and was again on the water. Dave would proudly bring it to wooden boat shows wherever he went, and I first saw it at the annual Wooden Canoe Heritage Association’s Assembly where it received lots of attention. After several years of chatting, and dreaming, and planning, we resolved to take the lines off the original canoe and for me to build replicas. With the help of David Yost, a famous canoe designer with many Bell, Swift and Loonworks canoes to his credit, the lines were taken, offsets and plans made, and the process of making replicas had finally begun.

In the fall of ‘06, Dave McDaniel and another friend and canoe restorer, Ritchie Orris came to the shop and together we built the form. The first replica came off the form in Feb ‘07 and with its closed gunwale construction, basket weave single seat, and high ends, it was a beautiful and distinctive canoe. As well as building the replicas, a 14 ft Bearwood model, the Cherish, is available, with a lower sheer line and open gunwales.

Gerrish Canoe

In either model, this is a lovely solo canoe, very manoeuvrable, and lightweight.

Gerrish replica:
Length 14 ft
Width 32 in
Depth 12 in.
White cedar ribs and planking
Closed gunwales of sitka spruce
Thwarts and single seat of white oak
Optional: half ribs
With its sweeping sheerline, cane lashing on the decks, and closed gunwales, this canoe shows its classic birchbark canoe heritage.

Length 14 ft
Width 32 in
Depth 12 in
White cedar ribs and red or white cedar planking
Open gunwales, sitka inwales, cherry outwales
Single seat
Cherry trim throughout
Options: two seats, walnut trim, half ribs


Pam in a Gerrish
(photo by Cody Storm Cooper/Sideroads)

Gerrish Canoe Deck
[click on image for a larger version.]

Brown gerrish
[click on image for a larger version.]