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The Willits Brothers and Their Canoes
by Patrick F. Chapman
Old Town, Maine. Peterborough, Ontario. Canton, New York. We instantly associate these locations with the great canoe makers of their time. Old Town. Peterborough, Rushton. The companies and their canoes are revered. For those of us in the Pacific Northwest, Tacoma, Washington, and Willits Brothers top that list.
From the first canoe they built in 1905 while still school boys in Des Moines, Iowa, to the last one finished following Floyd’s death in 1962 in Tacoma, Earl and Floyd Willits built floating masterpieces in wood. With the exception of brief periods, including service to the United States during World War I, they spent a lifetime producing just under a thousand of their “double-planked canoes.” As they stated in their 1935 catalog, “for utility and service, our canoes are decidedly superior to the canvas covered canoes.” They must have believed that claim because for nearly 60 years they built only one model of canoe. Read More