etroit Boat Company was a boat building firm located in Detroit, Michigan (Wayne County) that was owned and operated by the same management as Wadsworth Manufacturing Co., Detroit Engine Works. DEW engines were used to power the Detroit boats but other name brand engines could be special ordered or you could purchase a boat and put a engine in yourself.  Frederick E. Wadsworth was manager of the firm, which built launches and canoes. Their shop was located at 1250-1500 Jefferson Ave, East.  Next door to the Michigan Steel Boat Company, of which Wadsworth was secretary and treasurer. By 1909, Hugo Scherer was president of the firm, and Wadsworth was secretary. By 1915 Wadsworth was listed as secretary-treasurer. Detroit Boat Company should not be confused with Detroit Boat Works two different companies. Detroit Boat Works was a much older company that started out using steam engines in their boats.

Hugo Scherer was also president of H. Scherer & Co., which sold carriage goods. The Detroit Boat Company shared its management and facilities with the Michigan Steel Boat Company.  About 1907-1908 the company began selling knock-down boat frames, as advertised in Scientific America


New York Boat Show 1909. Photo's courtsey of the Burton Historical Collection Detroit Public Library. 


Recreation Magazine of January 1906

Stated that the Detroit Boat Co. of Detroit, Michigan purchased the factory recently vacated by the Olds Motor Works, makers of Oldsmobile's, upon the removal of that concern to Lansing. This gives the boat company a factory floor space of four acres, enabling it to turn out an unlimited stock of canoes, boats, launches, etc. Address 1280 Jefferson Ave. Detroit, Michigan.

Beeson’s Marine Directory 1908

Many pleasure boats building:

The past winter and during the spring every builder of pleasure vessels has been and is being kept very busy…The Detroit Boat Co. have built and are now delivering over 150 launches on orders received during the past six months….

By 1911 the Detroit Boat Co. claimed to have sold their products to over 20,000 customers, and advertised itself as the “Largest Producers of Pleasure Crafts in the World.”  Their factory had eight acres of floor space. They manufactured 64 different styles of boats that ranged in size from 14 to 35 feet in length and were equipped with Detroit Engine Works engines of two to fifty horsepower. Three different paddle style canoes were offered as were three different engine powered styles.

The literature below was all in this envelope folded up. The boats pictures were all on a large poster flyer that measured 20 x 28 inches and printed on both sides. The flyer was produced for the National Motor Boat Show of 1911-1912 time period.

Detroit_Boat_Co._Envelope_March_15_1912.JPG (43499 bytes)

Detroit_Boat_Co._Letter_01_March_15_1912.JPG (179604 bytes) Detroit_Boat_Co._Letter_02_March_15_1912.JPG (114166 bytes) Detroit_Boat_Co._Order_Blank_01_March_15_1912.JPG (184980 bytes) Detroit_Boat_Co._Testimonial_Letter_01_March_15_1912.JPG (204868 bytes) Detroit_Boat_Co._Diana_18ft_March_15_1912.JPG (851872 bytes) Detroit_Boat_Co._14ft_Shorty_March_15_1912.JPG (48920 bytes) Detroit_Boat_Co._14ft_Stub_March_15_1912.JPG (54028 bytes) 
Detroit_Boat_Co._16ft_Temptation_March_15_1912.JPG (47701 bytes) Detroit_Boat_Co._28ft_Speed_Boat_Silver_Heels_March_15_1912.JPG (52812 bytes) Detroit_Boat_Co._18ft_Semi-Speed_Boat_BlueBird_March_15_1912.JPG (65007 bytes) Detroit_Boat_Co._16ft_HeatherBell_March_15_1912.JPG (61772 bytes)
Detroit_Boat_Co._23ft_HoBo_March_15_1912.JPG (49861 bytes) Detroit_Boat_Co._20ft_Speed_Power_Canoe_Gosum_March_15_1912.JPG (40078 bytes) Detroit_Boat_Co._20ft_Motor_Canoe_Uandi_March_15_1912.JPG (37161 bytes)
Detroit_Boat_Co._18ft_WaterWitch_March_15_1912.JPG (88360 bytes) Detroit_Boat_Co._20ft_Auto_Boat_Promise_March_15_1912.JPG (79703 bytes) Detroit_Boat_Co._21ft_Sea_Fox_March_15_1912.JPG (73580 bytes) Detroit_Boat_Co._20ft_Autoboat_Restless_March_15_1912.JPG (87201 bytes) Detroit_Boat_Co._23ft__27ft_Auto_Boat_Hasty_March_15_1912.JPG (72630 bytes)     
Detroit_Boat_Co._Accessories_March_15_1912.JPG (84888 bytes) Detroit_Boat_Co._Engine_Specifications_March_15_1912.JPG (84309 bytes)

Paddling canoes manufactured in (1911-1912) by Detroit Boat Co.

Hudson River Model - Spruce gunwales (closed), oak stems, oak or ash thwarts, seats and    decks.

Yukon River Model - Rails spruce or mahogany; decks, thwarts, seats of mahogany.

Takoma Special - Decks birdseye maple or mahogany. Rails mahogany or maple. Seats and thwarts to match decks.

Sizes in which the paddle canoes were offered.

Length             Max. Beam            Beam at Rails          Depth
14 ft.                   32 in.                        30 in.                   12 in.
15 ft.                   32 in.                        30 in.                   12 in.
16 ft.                   33 in.                        30½ in.                12 in.
17 ft.                   33 in.                        31 in.                   12 in.
   18 ft.                   34 in.                        31½ in.                12½ in.
   20 ft.                   36 in.                        33 in.                   13½ in


Detroit engine powered canoes manufactured in (1911-1912) by Detroit Boat Co.

Mohawk - Offered in 2&3 hp, Length 20 ft, Beam 40 in, Depth 27 in, Weight 350 lbs.     
Gosum - Offered in 2,3 or 4 hp, Length 20 ft, Beam 46 in, Draft 16 in, Weight 400 lbs.
Uandi - Offered in 2,3 hp, Length 20 ft, Beam 40 in, Draft 15 in, Weight 350 lbs.     


Detroit Boat Co. advertisements & Letters

Detroit_Boat_Co_Advert_01.jpg (34198 bytes)

DBC_Advert_01.JPG (123305 bytes)  Detroit_Boat_Co_Advert_02.jpg (172162 bytes) 
Detroit_Boat_Co.jpg (22561 bytes) DBC_Blue_Bird_Advert_Jan_1915_01.jpg (321660 bytes)

DBC_Order_Blank_March_15_1912.JPG (145974 bytes) DBC_Testimonial_Letters.JPG (148909 bytes)      DBC_Letter_03_15_1912_A.JPG (153653 bytes) DBC_Letter_03_15_1912_B.JPG (82733 bytes) 




Beeson, Harvey C.  Beeson’s Marine Directory of the Northwestern Lakes, 1908  (Chicago, IL:  Harvey C. Beeson, 1908.)  p. 157.

Polk, R. L. & Co. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1907-1908 (Detroit, MI: R. L. Polk & Co., 1907.) pp. 666, 2329.

Polk, R. L. & Co. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1909-1910 (Detroit, MI: R. L. Polk & Co., 1909.) pp. 560, 2318.

Polk, R. L. & Co. Detroit City Directory, 1909 (Detroit, MI: R. L. Polk & Co., 1909.) pp. 856, 1858, 2102, 2825.

Polk, R. L. & Co. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1911-1912 (Detroit, MI: R. L. Polk & Co., 1911.) pp. 543, 2167.

Polk, R. L. & Co. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1913-1914 (Detroit, MI: R. L. Polk & Co., 1913.) pp. 469, 1839.

Polk, R. L. & Co. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1915 (Detroit, MI: R. L. Polk & Co., 1915.) pp. 461, 1852.

Detroit Boat Company. The “Detroit” Boat represents the highest quality service and best design of any priced boat (Detroit, MI: Detroit Boat Company, 1911?) Library of Michigan, Rare Book Collection.

Research for Detroit Boat Co. Done by:  Scott M. Peters, Collections Historian Michigan Historical Museum and John C. Davis, of  Davis Antiques & Scale Models.

Detroit Boat Co. Advertisement Literature donated By:
Richard Durgee  Delray Beach, Florida and  John C. Davis.  St. Cloud, Florida.

© 1998-2020  John C. Davis.


If you have any information on Detroit Engine Works or related company's history or engines and would like to contribute to this website please e-mail me.    John Davis  E-mail:   mazak@rocketmail.com
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