Chestnut Canoe

Awarded in 2008
Chestnut Canoe

It was a canoe, a company, and a Canadian icon. The company is gone now, but the craft and its iconic status live on, for the canvas-covered canoe and the Chestnut name became famous all over Canada and the United States. Its origins went back to the turn of the last century and a time when the outdoor spirit was triumphant and New Brunswick had an international reputation as a sportsmen’s paradise. The Chestnut family had been in the hardware business (“Hardware for Hard Wear”) for more than 40 years when R. Chestnut & Sons sold their first canoes from the store at Phoenix Square in downtown Fredericton. It was 1904, and the canoes had been made in a nearby woodworking factory. Within three years, there was a Chestnut Canoe Company and a four-storey brick factory on York Street from which these beautiful craft would emerge for much of the next seven decades. The names they bore-the Prospector, Trapper, Ogilvy Special, the Bobs-alone were enough to stir the imagination, and life was not complete for many an outdoorsman, some from the far reaches of the continent, until they had made a pilgrimage to Fredericton and seen the hallowed place where the canoes were designed and built. The company came to an end in 1978, a victim of time and circumstance, but many people still have, and cherish, their Chestnut Canoes and the memories that inevitably attach to them.