Rice Lake Canoe Co. Tool Chest

Rice Lake Canoe Co. Tool Chest

Current location:

Collection Storage Facility


This tool chest, part of the Rice Lake Canoe Company collection, was purchased from Canadian collector Roger MacGregor in 1994. MacGregor had accumulated various items from the Herald and the Herald & Hutchison canoe operations over a number of years, eventually assembling a unique record of early commercial canoe building in Canada. It’s quite possible that this chest was built by Herald company founder Daniel Herald, who, as a trained shipwright, was an accomplished woodworker.

Technical history:

In the nineteenth century, boat builders, like all woodworkers, needed an array of specialized hand tools to cut, carve, shape, and secure the pieces of wood they used to make their boats. This chest is a typical example of the type used in the latter half of the century to house, store, and protect valued tools. Although it did not contain tools when acquired, it almost certainly belonged to Daniel Herald, and it shows the wear and tear of a long and useful workshop life.


Daniel Herald was born in County Down, Ireland, and emigrated to Canada in the 1850s. He began his own business as a canoe builder in 1862 and began building his Herald Patent Canoe soon after. His unique, double-skin design was a commercial success and his business, renamed the Rice Lake Canoe Company in 1899, thrived under his and his sons’ management until about 1920.

As part of the Rice Lake Canoe Company collection, the tool chest is among the many two- and three-dimensional objects that document the early years of what was to become a major Canadian industry. Such artifacts also provide a rare glimpse at both the operational and commercial aspects of that industry. The collection shows how Herald and his successors built canoes, and how they managed their company and marketed their products over several decades.

Canada Science and Technology Museum
Artifact No.
Unknown; possibly Daniel Herald
Manufacturer Location
Unknown; possibly Gore’s Landing, Ontario
Manufacture Date
Circa 1860–1890
Acquisition Date