Chippewa County Historical Society




June Lynne, Executive Director of the Chippewa County Historical Society, tells the story of what became known as "Ole's Canoe"

The Chippewa River Canoe

Chippewa River Dugout Canoe

The Chippewa River canoe was originally thought to be a replica built by Ole Torgerson. After carbon dating determined the canoe was much older than previously thought, the origin of this canoe was investigated further.

Family members recalled that Ole Torgerson found the canoe on his land along the Chippewa River. The canoe was found along an “oxbow” in the river. An oxbow in the river was at one time the main channel until the river cut a straighter path.

Based on this account, the location of the canoe would have been found on the land Ole Torgerson homesteaded in 1867 in Section 3 of Tunsburg Township near Watson MN.

While the true origin of the canoe cannot be verified, there is an oxbow in the Chippewa River at the north end of Section 3 of Tunsburg Township which lends credibility to the account of where the canoe was found.

The wire nails holding the board at the stern of the canoe were likely added by Ole Torgerson, since the Native Americans would not have had access to wire nails at the time the canoe was built.

What is known is that Ole Torgerson stored the canoe in the rafters of an outbuilding. Ole died in 1918, and in 1965, grandson Lyle Torgerson searched the old farmstead site and found the canoe.

Lyle then moved it to the rafters in one of his outbuildings. It remained there until his death in 1985 when the canoe was sold at auction to the Chippewa County Historical Society.

Dugout Canoes