York Boats: Old & New

1846 Fort

O the woeful indignities of old age!Erik and Joseph 2010

Our venerable York Boat, often referred to as ˜Methuselah’ these past few years, is approaching the end of its twenties and looking every minute of it. Most historical York Boats were built to last a year – perhaps two – but no more.

It is with respect to the old girl, as well as regrets to our guests and staff, that we have decided that the boat will not go into the water this year, nor likely the next. (Not sure what you’re missing? Check out this video).

While the boat does have a few years left in her, the time it takes to get her shipshape and Bristol-fashion these days is considerable. The hull must be tarred, the oakum checked. This year alone a rotted section of the sternpost had to be completely replaced. And all this while discussing the importance York Boats played in the Fur Trade to our thousands of guests.

Our visitors will also recall that we have a new boat under construction. This smaller, more nimble hull has grown slightly over the years, but the more work that her older sister requires; the less attention she can be paid. We are hoping that 2014 can be a year of great progress if we can get the help we need.1846 Unfinished York Boat

Call to Action

So if you are a skilled or amateur craftsperson who knows their birch from their spruce and their skill-saw from their adze, we might just have a role for you “ or your friend, or brother or sister.

We are hoping to recruit volunteer boatbuilders who can commit 40 hours over the course of June, July and August next summer. This could be a day a week, more or less. You need not be in costume. You need not be a ticketed carpenter or boatbuilder. We can provide an expert to oversee, but we need many hands to make light work.

(You can see a gallery of photos of the process for North Wood Canoe Company’s recent construction of their own York Boat a few years ago here)

Your reward? Besides the joys of volunteering and the pride in ensuring that the River City’s iconic watercraft is on display for many more years “ you ensure yourself the singular thrill to stand astride the heaving decks, hand on the tiller, when the boat next takes to water!

Sign up here >