A LEGACY OF
QUALITY
AND
INNOVATION

EXPLORE OUR HERITAGE

Tap or hover on the images to get the story behind each one.

Inspired by the Penobscot’s watercraft, our first wood and canvas canoe was built by A.E. Wickett in 1898 behind Gray’s hardware store.
New York State Historical Society Assoc., The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
Made with an eye for detail and a passion for quality, it wasn’t long before Gray’s and Wickett’s canoes were selling like hotcakes.
Briefly known as the Indian Old Town Canoe Co. and Robertson Old Town Canoe Co., the firm was incorporated in 1903 as Old Town Canoe Co.
Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
Wood and canvas canoes first appeared in the late 1800s, gaining favor as a durable, low maintenance alternative to birch bark designs.
Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
Sailing canoes gained popularity during the early 1900's and were hot-selling products for Old Town.
Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
War Canoes were often a favorite in camps throughout the United States.
A newspaper article from 1926, and the only known Indian Old Town Canoe Co. catalog from 1901.
Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
The 1903 catalog cover demonstrated an iconic name change in the company's history.
Susan Audette
By the early 1900's the canoeing craze had struck the United States, centered around the Charles River in eastern Massachussetts.
David Kingsbury, Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
Early catalog covers show a proud Penobscot heritage in Old Town's marketing.
David Kingsbury, Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
As canoeing continued to gain popularity, Old Town offered different color designs on various models.
Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
David Baker, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
The Old Town Yankee model was introduced in 1920 as the Livery model. Shown here in the 1926 catalog.
Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
By 1910, Old Town's workforce had grown to sixty year-round employees, many of which were local Penobscot.
Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
Old Town played a pivotal role in the growth of canoeing as a leisure activity in the early 20th century.
Old Town Canoe Co. Archives
Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
Sam Gray acquired local Carelton Canoe Company in 1910, expanding Old Town's offering and expertise.
Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
The 1919 catalog identifies canoeing as why U.S. troops were in such great shape.
Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
Courting canoes became a popular romantic endeavour along New England's rivers.
In 1934, the Carelton brand was consolidated under the Old Town name.
Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
By the 1930's, the Great Depression had slowed sales to a fraction of what they were in years prior.
Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
As the economy regained strength, orders picked back up and the company not only survived, but prospered.
Carl Klein Photo, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
During the war-years, materials and workers were in short supply, leading Sam Gray to get creative with operations.
Jenny LaFrance, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
By the mid 1940's, Old Town operated five logging camps to provide the wood needed to meet demand.
Old Town Canoe Co. Archives
A sign on Deane Gray's desk read, "If God wanted fiberglass canoes, he would have made fiberglass trees."
Old Town Canoe Co. Archives
Old Town had always kept a keen eye on fiberglass technology, and in the 1960's decided to incorporate the strong, light material.
Walter King joined Old Town in the 60's and brought unparalleled fiberglass boat-building expertise.
Old Town Canoe Co. Archives
Lew Gilman began building Old Town's first fiberglass kayaks under the guidance of Bart Hauthaway.
Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
With advances in material technology, many traditional sportsmen still relied on their wood and canvas canoes.
Old Town Canoe Co. Archives
Old Town Canoe Co. Archives
An artist's rendering of the Old Town Canoe Co. factory in 1915.
Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
Old Town Canoe Co. Archives
Old Town catalog cover from 1968.
Old Town Canoe Co. Archives
Lew Gilman, founder of Rivers and Gilman, finally decides to join Old Town Canoe Co. after losing his company in a fire.
Old Town Canoe Co. Archives
Poling was a popular technique that allowed canoeists to navigate upriver more efficiently than with a paddle.
Old Town Canoe Co. Archives
Examples of early color designs available for Old Town's wood and canvas canoes.
Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
The Lew Gilman Era: One of the most influential figures in Old Town Canoe Co. history.
Lew was an early advocate for Royalex, a lightweight and durable alternative material developed by Uniroyal.
Old Town Canoe Co. Archives
Fiberglass and Royalex revitalized a stagnant business in the 60's and 70's, regaining lost market share and prestige.
Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
Johnson Outdoors purchased Old Town from the Grays in 1974, adding it to a portfolio of outdoor brands such as Minn Kota and Eureka Tents.
Old Town Canoe Co. Archives
An early image of kayak surfing before it gained popularity among paddlers decades later.
Gray Collections, The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
Old Town hits its stride now with the support and passion of Sam Johnson and his diverse outdoor portfolio.
In 1983, Gilman created a 3-layer polyethylene canoe dubbed "Discovery" after the NASA space shuttle.
Old Town Canoe Co. Archives
Benson Gray, descendant of the Gray family, seen here competing in a slalom event in an Old Town K1 Slalom kayak.
Old Town Canoe Co. Archives
Old Town's reputation extends far beyond the Penobscot River valley, with passionate customers all around the world.
Old Town Canoe Co., The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
One of the most popular Discovery models is the 119, a versatile and maneuverable solo canoe designed by Lew Gilman.
The Old Town canoe has always been a reliable and stable platform for sportsmen.
Old Town Canoe Co., The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
New Markets
Old Town was the US distributor of sit-on-top kayaks designed by Plastiques LPA Ltd. of Quebec.
Old Town Canoe Co., The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
Leisure Life, Ltd., one of the largest small-boat manufacturers in the world, was acquired by Johnson Outdoors in the 90's.
Old Town Canoe Co., The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
Geoff King followed in his father's footsteps and became Head of R&D in the 1990's.
Old Town Canoe Co., The Old Town Canoe Company, Our First 100 Years
After over 100 years, Old Town Canoe Co. moved across town to a new state of the art manufacturing and research facility.
Old Town Canoe Co. Archives
The Modern Era
Anglers and hunters alike have embraced the Predator series thanks to its stability, durability, and storage capacity.
The Predator Series of sit-on-top fishing kayaks was introduced in 2013 and has won the most coveted awards in the industry.
All of our watercraft are still built by hand in Old Town, Maine, just as they were over 100 years ago.
Old Town has always been determined to inspire people to get outdoors and connect with nature and each other.
Every angling kayak is engineered above and below the water to enhance the fishing experience.
The Predator MK and PDL are pioneering hands-free kayak fishing, and racking up awards along the way.
2018 marks the return of life jackets to Old Town's product offering. Each design pairs with an Old Town canoe or kayak.
The Predator series of sit-on-top sporting kayaks offers a stable platform for all types of fishing.
2018 also marks the return of Old Town paddles. We currently offer premium fiberglass and carbon designs for all styles.
Our ACS2 seating system is one of the most advanced on the market and comes on our premium day touring and recreation kayaks.
The NEXT represents the future of paddling. Built for one, designed for all, it provides a fun, unique solo experience.
Since day one our employees have been the heart and soul of the business, and will continue to carry Old Town into the future.
New for 2018, the Castine reintroduces custom-fit touring kayaks to Old Town's growing offering.

Special thanks to Susan Audette and Tilbury House Publishers for all historical images used on our Heritage page. If you are interested in purchasing a signed copy of "Old Town Canoe Company - Our First Hundred Years" see Susan Audette's official website.

Crafted with love, sweat & years

Pioneering
What’s Next

We’ve spent over a century innovating—boat after cutting edge boat. All while staying true to our Northeast heritage, and our long legacy of quality craftsmanship. Today Old Town is the world’s oldest, largest and most revered manufacturer of canoes and kayaks. And we plan to keep it that way, by using our passion for adventure to craft the finest boats on the water, far into the future.