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Prospectors are deep and wide canoes, originally designed to carry heavy loads on expeditions in the Canadian wilderness. Starting in 1923, the Chestnut Canoe Company added depth, width and rocker to its sleek Cruiser model canoes to fit the needs of the Geological Survey of Canada. In the following decades, thousands of Chestnut Prospectors were ordered to help surveyors lay claim to Canada’s hinterlands. Today, Prospectors are celebrated as “all-around” canoes that work well on rivers and lakes. Our Prospectors are used by wilderness trippers, summer camps and family campers.



We build real Chestnut Prospector canoes, in 15-, 16-, 17- and 18-foot lengths. Just about every canoe manufacturer builds “Prospector” canoes in a wide range of materials; however, a close inspection of the specs reveals that most modern designs stray from the originals with “cookie-cutter” dimensions that can compromise performance. Ours are true to the originals, and each model has its own dimensions and unique paddling characteristics—enhanced by the inherent buoyancy and distinctive feel of wood-canvas construction.  

15' Prospector

The 15-foot Prospector is a versatile canoe for tandem or solo paddling at the cottage or on wilderness trips. This model is the shallowest of the Prospectors, yet relatively wide, offering plenty of storage space for tandem trips of up to a week. This moderately rockered hull is very responsive, easy to handle and reasonably stable for most paddlers. It also makes a great canoe for longer solo trips.

Width:  35"      Depth:  13.5"      Length: 15'     

Weight:  57 - 70lbs  (depending on options)

16' Prospector

The 16-foot Prospector has remained the most famous canoe of all time ever since it was proclaimed the ultimate all-around canoe by legendary paddler Bill Mason. Ours holds true to Mason’s original Chestnut Prospector, with great versatility for both wilderness and cottage use, tandem or solo, on moving water or lakes. It has ample space for two-week tandem canoe trips (or solo journeys a month or longer), as well as excellent seaworthiness and stability for family paddling. Like all Prospectors, the 16-foot model is deep and moderately rockered, making it best suited to paddling with a load. You may prefer the 15-foot Prospector or a Cruiser model if you’re looking for a day-tripping canoe to paddle empty.

Width:  36"      Depth:  14.5"      Length: 16'     

Weight:  60 - 76lbs  (depending on options)

17' Prospector

Lots of depth, rocker and outstanding seaworthiness and performance in wind, waves and rapids makes the 17-foot Prospector a fantastic wilderness tripping canoe. The 16-foot Prospector gets a lot of praise, but our wood-canvas 17-foot Prospector handles even better on big lakes and whitewater rivers, and is designed to be loaded down with two weeks or more of gear and supplies. The 17-foot Prospector is also an excellent option for family canoe tripping or bringing along a furry friend.

Width:  37"      Depth:  14.5"      Length: 17'     

Weight:  70 - 82lbs (depending on options)