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Canadian Canoe Serial Numbers
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Author:  davidchiles [ February 1st, 2010, 10:38 am ]
Post subject:  Canadian Canoe Serial Numbers

Just opened this topic for anyone interested in deciphering their Canadian canoe serial numbers (this applies to most Canadian boats with serial numbers, regardless of type). It is in response to a recent topic, and some older ones about serial numbers, and what they mean.

In Canada, hre is how they are structured, using a generic example

ABC - Three letter manufacturer code, remember the letters used here are simply a code generated by the government, and may or may not have any relation to the manufacturers name.

X1 - The model of the boat, alphanumeric, at least one, but can be up to three, four or more letters/digits

247 - the sequence number of production, or boat number. In this case the 247th boat. The sequence number can be a bit misleading, as they must increase sequentially, but a boat manufacturer may use one sequence for all production, one sequence per model, and the sequence can be reset to 1 every year. like the model of the boat, it can be as many digits as reasonably required.

K9 - The month and calender year the boat is produced, month are alpha A through L, year of production single digit.

10 - The model year of the boat, in this case 2010

An interesting note is that serial numbers do not have to fall into a predetermined length, and some manufacturers may use 2, 3, or even four more letters/numbers than others, depending on how they identify boat models, and run their sequence numbers.

Now for two real examples


YFK - H20 Composites Inc.
LE - Alchemist Legend
99 - 99th Alchemist Legend produced
G9 - manufactured July 2009
09 - 2009 model year


YFK - H20 Composites Inc.
P16 - Prospector 16'
47 - 47th prospector 16 produced
J8 - manufactured October 2008
09 - 2009 model year

Now lets try this at home, because I have a complementary sixpack of Sleeman or Unibrou to the owner of both the above boats! Now get checking those serial numbars y'all!!

Author:  tgneal [ February 2nd, 2010, 6:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Canadian Canoe Serial Numbers

What about boats made in the U.S. (Oldtown, etc.)?

P.S.: Intersting info, thanks.

Author:  Barbara [ February 2nd, 2010, 6:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Canadian Canoe Serial Numbers

davidchiles wrote:
Now lets try this at home, because I have a complementary sixpack of Sleeman or Unibrou to the owner of both the above boats! Now get checking those serial numbars y'all!!

Really? Those are canoes that have been sold, and could possibly belong to a CCR'er?

I can just imagine folks flying out of the house, uncovering their canoes, to check their serial numbers! :lol:

Hope they remember to take close-up photos, and post them here in this thread, to provide proof and claim their beer! :clap:

Yes, they could just check their sales invoice, and take a photo of that, but what's the fun in that?


Author:  davidchiles [ February 2nd, 2010, 9:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Canadian Canoe Serial Numbers


That (the beer) was just an afterthought, edited in later, and yes those are real serial numbers! And yes, if someone somehow claims the beer, I will follow through, and maybe find a new lake or river to explore with my bowman!

I dont know about US serial numbers, but i believe the US coast guard would have that information, as the Canadian Coast Guard is the agency responsible for keeping everyone in line up here.

What is interesting is that even with fairly well laid out guidelines, there can still be lots of confusion, especially with respect to the location and length of model identifiers, and boat numbering, as one can run into the other and confuse things.

At the end of it all, no matter how a manufacturer identifies things, the system ensures a unique serial number for every single boat manufactured in Canada, no matter when.

Author:  Rob Stevens [ February 3rd, 2010, 12:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Canadian Canoe Serial Numbers

For anyone who might be interested, there is a Canoe identification guide on the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association's website, here;

Serial numbers are one of many ways to identify wooden and wood/canvas canoes.

A CD-Rom of selected Canadian wooden canoe builder's catalogues
is available;

Unfortunately, not all builder's followed a consistent system, and some records were lost in fires eg. Chestnut.

Author:  Brad [ February 5th, 2010, 11:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Canadian Canoe Serial Numbers

Here's my label:

Swift Canoe Company
Oxtongue Lake - R.R. # 1
Dwight, Ontario P0A 1H0
Made in Canada

SWI- Swift Canoe Company
02- Model 02? It's a Kipawa.
538- 538th Kipawa that year?
10- manufactured in October?
94- 1994

I wonder if it was manufactured in October of 94 and sold as a 95?

I purchased this boat from the original owner, a former co-worker, so I can't confirm if this serial number info is correct. I had contacted Swift about my boat and they did give me the manufacturing date but I've since lost that email and I don't remember anymore.

Like anything government and required by everyone but not really enforced, I was dubious to believe that everyone follows that format to the letter... Seems that's the case.

Author:  davidchiles [ February 5th, 2010, 12:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Canadian Canoe Serial Numbers

Of course the Canadian regs that I used in the examples above were completely revamped in 94 or 95, so only boats after that will follow the format.

you are right on the money about them being guidelines, and there is some flexibility, and companies may mess around with them, we had a Canadian go out as a P16 prospector, but no real effort to redo it (I stamped out over 200 serial numbers myself, so one error wasn't that bad)

Essentially though, the guidelinies are structured so that no boat in Canada has the same serial numver as any other.

hard to say what 02538 means, could be boat 538 for model 02 since inception, as I doubt swift produces more than 100 kipawas each year out of all production. Nice boat, I fixed on up that had worn gunwales and weathered interior, made her look real pretty!

Author:  solotwaterrunner [ September 6th, 2019, 8:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Canadian Canoe Serial Numbers

Thanks for posting.

The previous owner inscribed the serial number in felt pen on the inside of the hull.
The sequence is pretty similar.

Author:  Prospector16 [ August 15th, 2020, 2:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Canadian Canoe Serial Numbers

What about ZFU in the beginning? Any ideas?

Here is the canoe ... ger_banner

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