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Hudson’s Bay Company North Canoe Plans

north canoe

The voyagers of the Hudson’s Bay Company needed big canoes to transport trade goods into the American interior. The 30-foot Hudson’s Bay Company 4-1/2-Fathom North Canoe fit the bill. This 59-inch-wide canoe typically transported five bales of general trade good, one bale and two rolls of tobacco, one bale of kettles, one case of guns, one case of hardware, two bags of lead shot, one bag of flour, one keg of sugar, two kegs of gunpowder and 10 kegs of wine. In addition to the trade goods, each member of the crew brought one bale of private property, one bag of corn, a partial keg of grease, bedrolls and canoe gear. All this gear, plus the weight of the paddlers, added up, but even a long ton of  goods only sunk the canoe to the 8-1/2-inch waterline, which left 18 inches of freeboard.

The Hudson’s Bay Company North Canoe appears as Figure 115 in the Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America. It’s the biggest size that was typically used in the interior. Crees posted near James Bay built it in the middle of the 19th century. This shape is rather simple and was easy to model in Delftship. The sides are vertical near the ends, but flare near the middle. If you build this model, it’s worth picking up a copy of Bark and Skin, because the gunwales extend past the top of the stem in a way that adds interest and grace to the high bows. I’d suggest copying the look. Underloaded, empty or with just a few paddlers, I can’t imagine the boat would feel stable, but it’d be interesting to see if this is the case. I’d consider building this with 1/4-inch or thicker strips and probably lots of extra fiberglass or other reinforcements.


Length: 29 feet 11 inches
Width: 59 inches
Depth: 26 inches
Capacity at the 8-1/2-inch waterline: 2406 lbs.

Linesplan of a Hudson's Bay Company North Canoe plan built in the 19th century.

Get the Drawing Package

The drawing package includes the full-sized study plan and each station and stem drawn separately on a PDF that prints full sized on ARCH D size paper (nestings). You can cut these out and glue them to plywood to cut full-sized forms. A pdf of the electronic drawing package. is available for this kayak. You can print the file on 24- by 36-inch paper on your own.

Download Plans

Building From the Plans

Check out my canoe and kayak building books review. Everything you need to know to build this canoe is in one of these books.



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  • Good site. Has anyone built the HB North Canoe with wood strip and glass?
    I’ve done four stip canoes. A 25′ North canoe is the next project I am thinking about. I would be interest in any preformance comments if anyone has built one to this design.

  • @Ron — This plan is part of my Winter Free Canoe and Kayak Plan Project. I’ve posted a plan every Friday since October of last year. It ends on April 1. This one went up on Nov. 12, so I doubt that anyone has finished one or even started one. It’s finally ranking in search engines.

    I’ve seen Voyager canoes built in cedar strip and glass. Most builders end up using 5/16-inch strips and extra glass. The curves won’t present too many difficulties. I think that the strips turning from the bilge to the stem might need boiling water poured over them or a heat gun to make the turn, but that’s pretty easy.

  • I aqm looking for a set ofplans for a 25 foot North or Voyageur stylecanoe, preferablt asymetrical.

  • Hi, Victor. This in the only one that I plan to publish in the near term. Not sure who else offers plans of Voyageur canoes.

  • […] Centennial Museum, Vancouver, B.C. The boat measures over 27 feet making it as long as most voyager canoes. Lincoln also notes that the Coast Salish style canoes evolved for use in inland seas. This canoe […]

  • In the PDF I count 15 stations, to be placed at 1′ intervals.. am I missing something? How can I make it reach 30 feet? I’m just drawing it up on the computer, dreaming away

    • The canoe is symmetrical, so the stations are mirrored bow and stern.

      • makes sense :-) thanks! I just haven’t caught the idea of boats being symmetrical, looking forward to hammer this into delftship :)

  • Hi Ron, Dieter Späth in Germany has build two Fur-Tade-Canoes, redesigned from Figure 131 and Figure 132. That are very beautiful canoes and very fast with experienced paddlers. You can visite his webside “www.” Dieter Späth. There you can see pic’s, the canoes under construktion and on tour.

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