Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Canadian family of pipe shapes

Since I have been using some pipe terms without explaining them, especially when it comes to shapes, I thought I'd take a moment to cover the Canadian family since I've mentioned the lovat several times recently.

Let me first refer you to this page at Pipe Shapes.

All Canadian pipes have a billiard style bowl. The billiard is a relatively tall, relatively straight-sided bowl that is just as tall as the shank is long. It is a very common shape. Of course the Canadian, with its long shank, does not have a bowl that is the same height as the shank has length. That's why I say the Canadian has a "billiard style" bowl. The bowl is of normal height for a pipe that would have a normal length shank. The Canadian is generally considered to have a shank that is about twice as long as the bowl is tall.

All pipes of the Canadian family have a very long shank that takes up almost the entire length of the stem, with a very short bit. I like to think of the "stem" of a pipe as being both the shank and bit together. Not all pipesters would agree with this usage of the term, however.

There are essentially four shapes in the Canadian family, all defined by the shapes of the shank and bit.

1. Canadian: oval shank, taper bit.
2. Lumberman: oval shank, saddle bit.
3. Liverpool: round shank, taper bit.
4. Lovat: round shank, saddle bit.

Follow the link above for pictures to help explain it all. And as I often warn, not everyone agrees on these precise definitions, but they are what I go by and perhaps my explanation will help keep things straight for this blog, anyway.

I tend to favor pipes with flatter bits such as the saddle bit, because I find them easier to grip with the teeth and no hands. Taper bits tend to slip forward and cause a heavier bite to keep in place. In my experience with refurbishing pipes, taper bits have tended to show heavier tooth marking in general compared to flatter bits such as the saddle.

I will undoubtedly wander into further definitions of various pipe terms and shape descriptions in the future. I will probably deal with the ubiquitous billiard next time.


  1. the long and oval stem, does that have a habit of breaking? im looking at a peterson 264 and the thickness right above the stem looks pretty thin. What do you think? would a 106 standard billiard seem like a better pipe or am i being paranoid?

  2. I don't know, but I've never heard of Canadians being prone to breaking.

  3. My Canadian style snapped in my pocket. Not the bit either. The long shank. Gift from old girlfriend 30 years ago. Looking for a cheap vintage used well aged Canadian style online auction now. Just look at some of them. How can you even wonder if they are prone to breaking?

  4. there's a Canadian style with a very flat shank.