Bill Mason Canoe

Nova Craft Canoe Sponsors the Iconic Bill Mason Prospector

We are very excited to announce that we’ve partnered with the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, ON to sponsor Bill Mason’s Prospector for the year 2020.


he Prospector design, originated by the Chestnut Canoe Company, is the most celebrated canoe design on the market. Iterations of the Chestnut classic are made by nearly every current-day canoe manufacturer, including us. This is no doubt owing to Bill Mason. Mason used the Prospector in his best-known works, popularizing not only the model but backcountry tripping generally, and bringing about a renaissance in canoe and camping culture in Canada.
Our donation to the Canadian Canoe Museum through the “Adopt an Artifact” program helps support the museum in its mission to offer interactive and educational displays and programming which share the art, culture, heritage and spirit of paddled watercraft.

Canada Canoe

Bill Mason’s Chestnut Canoe Co. Prospector on display at the Canadian Canoe Museum


More on the Prospector, courtesy of the Canadian Canoe Museum:

Bill Mason’s 16 foot red Prospector canoe is possibly the most famous canoe in Canada. It arrived at the Mason home on Meech Lake, north of Ottawa, from the Chestnut Canoe Company in Fredericton, New Brunswick, in spring, 1973. From that moment, the canoe was used in all of Bill Mason’s projects, his instructional films on canoeing, his books, The Path of the Paddle, The Song of the Paddle, and his last epic film, Waterwalker. It was frequently used on Bill’s month-long solo trips on the north shore of Lake Superior, on family trips in Algonquin Park, on trips down the Pukaskwa River, north of Superior, where the canoe ribs were damaged. Bill danced at his son’s wedding with the canoe on his shoulders, and his wife, Joyce, scattered Bill’s ashes from it in 1989. It was donated to the Canadian Canoe Museum after their daughter, Becky, performed a canoe ballet on the Trent-Severn Waterway in Peterborough in 1999.
Although he was a fan of the rest of his personal fleet, author and filmmaker Bill Mason suggested the Prospector model as the best all-around option to the question “if you could have only one canoe”.
Given the telegraph code “Fort” for early “online” purchases, the Chestnut Canoe Company introduced this model in 1923 to offer a larger carrying capacity hull compared with their other offerings of similar length. Although the Prospector series would later be finished with a bright varnish interior for consumer, these were first introduced painted drab inside and out. For the rest of the company’s history, however, the rugged (if uncomfortable) slat seats (rather than woven caning) would remain a standard offering with this series belying its workboat origins. Today, this design is copied or imitated by more canoe makers than any other historic design.

The Canadian Canoe Museum