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Quetico 17
Prospector 17.5

Prospector or Quetico?

To many Canadian paddlers the word "Prospector" has long had a nostalgic, romantic connection to the fur traders of early Canadian history. Their Prospector canoe profile was an absolute necessity in negotiating the wild rivers of Canada's eastern cordillera where much of this early fur gathering took place. Of course the Canadian paddling icon Bill Mason only served to enhance the Prospector’s mystique. The question for the modern-day canoe buyer to consider is whether or not they need one of those Prospector canoes or will they be better served in a calmer, more user friendly canoe design.

Despite the storied history of the Prospector design, the Quetico line is by far our more popular choice. The Quetico 16, 17 and 18.5 are all designed for stability. With flat bottoms and high sides, they are great general-purpose canoes. Whether you’re tripping, fishing, carrying the family dog, or loading-up with gear and kids, the Quetico line will serve you well. They still handle well in the waves, and track nicely. While they are fast canoes, they won’t quite keep up with some of our other models.

The Prospector is built along traditional lines. With a high bow and stern, and considerable rocker (four inches), these are great river canoes. They turn well, and can be leaned easily to manage waves from the side. They are slightly faster than their Quetico counterparts. Due to their slimmer profile, the Prospectors have slightly less carrying capacity compared to the fuller Quetico line. The trade-off for this manoeuvrability and speed is tracking and stability. A canoe that turns easily simply won’t track as well. The more experienced you are, the less of an issue this is. The rounder bottom, which contributes to its speed and handling, makes it far less stable than the Quetico line. Putting a dog or busy kids in a Prospector will feel far less comfortable.

Many canoes today wearing Prospector decals do not have true Prospector profiles. They are modified; the builders have flattened the bottoms and greatly reduced the rocker to make them more lake-friendly. They leave the upturn on the bow and stern so they at least look like a Prospector, thus feeling justified in putting the Prospector decal on them.

So, the Quetico line are great general purpose canoes that will suit the needs of most people. The Prospector is more of a specialty canoe; it is great on rivers and where manoeuvrability is a premium, but at the cost of tracking and stability.

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