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Fitting a canoe down the chimney

12/09/2013
If a canoe can survive a drop off the top of this building it can any Boundary Waters rapids, right?

If a canoe can survive a drop off the top of this building it can  survive the rapids, right?

Old Town canoes were so well made they used to throw them off the factory roof to test them for toughness.

Maybe it was a distribution requirement from Santa. He wanted a guarantee they would survive a chimney drop.

They don’t use the faded, three-story factory in downtown Old Town for canoe manufacturing anymore, the company moved to an indifferent, low-slung building about five minutes north of town in 2009 . But they still make the legendary canoes and kayaks here…just like they have for more than 110 years.

That’s a good thing.

L.L. Bean and its outdoor retail empire may rule the southern Maine, but Old Town Canoe Company, some 125 miles north, is a symbol of true Maine.

The historic old canoe factory still stands on Middle Street in the heart of downtown Old Town, which hugs the Penobscot River shoreline. It looks like a boat house gone berserk. A boxy, wood-plank building which may have been painted red at one time but now has a washed out color that blends with its rusty maroon brick additions.

The city purchased the 260,000 square foot former factory for $1 and has been cleaning up the contaminated property for the last couple of years. The Bangor Daily News says  it appears the historic building will be torn down to make way for new development.

That makes me sad.

While businesses need to grown and improve to stay viable, I think someone could save and reuse such a wonderful old landmark. Maine doesn’t have many man-made icons, but the Old Town factory is certainly one of them.

Maybe the building is too polluted to serve as housing, but it’s loaded with tall windows and high ceilings which lots of people love in their living rooms. Can’t the city find a developer willing to work outside box?

On my bike ride around the outskirts of Bangor, I pass a dumpy warehouse on Highway 2. It’s another former Old Town Canoe building. One day, I stopped to take a picture. A family of turkeys hustled across a dead-end street. A helicopter launched from the nearby international airport. A nice looking car sat apparently abandon at the edge of the parking lot.

Now THIS building needs to go.

I mean, what’s the point of throwing a canoe off this roof?

An abandon Old Town Canoe Company warehouse outside of Bangor

An abandon Old Town Canoe Company warehouse outside of Bangor

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3 Comments
  1. John permalink

    I remember when Old town made the ad showing the plastic canoe being thrown off the top of the building. They wanted it to hit the ground bow or stern first to show the resiliency of the material but the canoe kept landing horizontally. Finally they got it to land like they wanted and the ad showed the canoe twisting on impact but bouncing back to shape and ready to go. Here is the link to the ad: http://www.canoekayak.com/contests/battle-of-the-old-school-ads/attachment/old-town-l-2/

  2. KeithbUhlig permalink

    Awesome ad. I want one now. But Mark, don’t you need a canoe that doesn’t sink?

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