Ask the Old Guy – October/November/December 2021

Hi Old Guy,

I inherited this duck decoy from my grandfather and was told by a friend that it might be a Peterborough decoy. I always enjoyed looking at it, even as a kid, but I don’t know much about decoys and I’m not sure where to start. Can you help? 

M.  Livingston, Toronto,  Ont. 

     Thanks for your question. Your friend is correct, your decoy was actually made by the Peterborough Canoe Company. The company opened in 1892 at the corner of King and Water streets in Peterborough Ontario and produced hand crafted high quality wooden canoes up until 1961. They started manufacturing decoys to supplement canoe sales during the slow periods for canoe orders.      

Peterborough decoys were produced in two different body sizes. The larger size to resemble Black Ducks and Mallards, and the smaller size for Redheads and Bluebills. The holes that were drilled in the bottom of your bird are a distinct feature of Peterborough decoys. The holes help the decoy float in a more realistic manner and were an easier manufacturing process than hollowing out the bottoms and re attaching a base. Many of these decoy heads were cut on a band saw and you can usually see the saw marks on the underside of the decoys bills.         

Peterborough decoys were available for sale in sporting goods shops, through the Eaton’s Catalogue, Eaton’s stores and The Hudson Bay Company. Eventually the Peterborough Canoe Company became the largest supplier of wooden decoys in Canada. Enjoy your bird.

The Old Guy*

*Reprinted from Issue 126 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *