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Free Canoe Plan – Modern Malecite St. John River Canoe

This cedar canoe drawing is taken from Edwin Adney and Howard Chapelle’s The Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America–it appears on page 79. Adney surveyed the original in 1895. He notes that the boat shows moderate sheer and low ends.

Free canoe plan.For this set of free plans, I left the station shape and stem shape alone, and I modified the rocker and sheer. The original drawing shows the canoe with little to no rocker–I prefer a canoe that has some rocker–so I added a similar amount of rocker as seen in Prospector canoes. When I changed the rocker, I changed the sheerline, because I felt the additional rocker justified the appearance of a showy sheer. The end result looks classy.


modern malecite_Linesplan

Length: 17 feet
Width: 36 inches
Draft at 600 pounds: 5 inches
Optimum capacity: 300-700lbs
Elevator Pitch: The Modern Malecite St. John River canoe, originally built in birch bark in 1895, is a classic symmetrical canoe with moderate load capacity. Its rockered hull ensures easy turning without adversely affecting tracking. The tumblehome keeps the sides of the canoe close to the paddler for an easy reach into the water. Canoeists looking for a classic, cabin canoe or light-duty, symmetrical tripper will enjoy this design.


  • Stefano Fasi’s builder’s log. Maybe the first one on the planet in over 100 years?

Free Cedar Canoe Plan

Free Cedar Canoe Plan

Free Cedar Canoe Plan



Free Canoe Plan Downloads

You can find the free canoe plans download here: Free Canoe Plan – Modern Malecite St. John River Canoe

I’m providing the free cedar canoe plans as a pdf (free Adobe Reader required to view) linesplan, which is printable on a letter-sized piece of paper; print this out for reference during the build. For building this wooden boat, I’m providing an A1-sized pdf of full-sized stations. This can be printed full-sized at many photocopy stores–no lofting required. I set the station intervals at one foot. For each station, I show lines to the outside of the canoe and for 3/16″ cedar strips. For builders who like a hardwood stem, I also included a 1.5-inch offset for the stem. For information on how to build a canoe from the free plans, see the book list below.

Recommended Books to Buy Before Building

Historical Pictures of Canoes Built on the St. John River

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  • I love the pictures! Especially the last one with the smiles on your faces. That’s what boat building and paddling is about. Thanks for building this canoe.

  • […] subito il suo progetto ideale e parte subito con la costruzione di una canoa canadese disegnata da BRYAN HANSEL la canoa canadese Modern MaleciteDopo i soliti preliminari per preparare lo scalo, ecco le prime forme che vengono subito ricoperte […]

  • […] The 1898 Passamaquoody Decorated Ocean Canoe comes from page 82, Figure 74 of Edwin Adney and Howard Chapelle’s The Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America. The text notes that this is the last known canoe of this style built. Tomah Joseph of Princeton, Maine built the canoe based on a cedar and canvas porpoise-hunting canoe. It has similar pinched ends and rounded tumblehome as the Modern Malecite St. John River Canoe. […]

  • Bryan,

    I liked this design and am about to build one, but I’m confused about the number of stations. There’s 8 stations, with a center station, which covers +/-7 feet from center or 14′ of boat, with 0.5 feet of stem past the last station that’s only 15′ of boat and it’s supposed to be 17′ long. Am I misreading something?


  • Hey, Bill,

    You’re not missing anything. When I revised the plan in April, I left off the center station. Probably a lesson in leaving good enough alone. I revised my revision and now the center station is back in the drawing. Check the revision date for 3/2011 for the current download. Sorry about that.

  • Bryan,

    Got the 3/29/11 version with 9 stations now! Thanks!


  • Bryan,

    Finally finished the modern Malecite and donation is in the mail. Had it out twice and it didn’t dump us! Fotos to follow.


    • Thanks, Bill! I can’t wait to see the photos. I hope everything went well with the build.

  • […] canoe is a prototype that takes its inspiration from the popular Modern Malecite St. John River Canoe plans. I like the Modern Malecite, but I wanted something with more volume and efficiency for […]

  • Do you think this boat can be build smaller?
    I am thinking of 250-280cm.
    Everything bigger won`t get out of my cellar in one piece.
    I plan on building it short and without epoxy. Just paint the hull.
    If it works out I want to build a bigger boat to split in 2 parts.

    My son weights only 13kg and I am 70kg…we just want to go on a flat body of water.
    Do you still have the original plans without that much rocker?

    I got the gilpatrick book but there are only printed plans. I can import PDF into my CAD program and scale or modify them so a pdf would be great.

    Any advice?

    • I don’t have any advice or comment on your epoxy-free building method. As far as I know that doesn’t work with cedar strips.

      Taking this boat down to 9 feet is pretty risky. I wouldn’t do it. If you want something that small, you’re much better off picking a pack canoe or hunting canoe. Usually boats that small are meant for solo paddlers. Maybe something like this would be better: Têtes de Boule Hunting Canoe or the Têtes de Boule Hunter’s Canoe.

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