Menu Close

Cataraqui Boatyard Project

Cataraqui Boatyard Project

We are excited about the formation of this new group with a profound interest in heritage boat building. Through living history projects, the broad goal is to celebrate Kingston’s Inner Harbour as Canada’s oldest continuous boat building location – at least from the time of Count Frontenac – and most probably before. 

Members of the Cataraqui Boatyard Project (a sub group of the Friends of Kingston Inner Harbour) include:

Tom Wroe (group chair) – Co-Founder of MetalCraft Marine
Joe Calnan – Heritage Boat Builder
Dave More –  Maritime Historian
Maurice Smith – Curator Emeritus, Marine Museum of the Great Lakes
Andy Soper – Renowned Sail Maker
Dave Short –  Brigantine Inc (Canada’s Original Tall Ship and Summer Camp Program)

We are so grateful for their enthusiastic and wholehearted participation!

The long-term plan is to create a building to house yearly heritage boat building activity.  Ideally it will also include facilities such as a waterfront restaurant, display space and meeting rooms.  It will be designed to be built in sections over time as financing becomes secured.  Jerry Shoalts of Shoalts and Zaback has kindly offered to design us a building for free!  We are most grateful!  We are currently examining a variety of possible Inner Harbour locations.  As we envision it going forward this project will be in tandem with, and definitely supportive of, the more traditional, and definitely valuable, archival work that has been the purview of the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes. 

Birch Bark Canoe Build (Fall 2020)

Members of the Cataraqui Boatyard Project are organizing an authentic birch bark canoe build in the Inner Harbour this fall with Algonquin Traditional Knowledge Keeper, Chuck Commanda. $15,000  has been awarded from the City of Kingston Heritage Fund to pay Chuck’s fee. An additional $10,000 has now also been promised from RTO9 (Regional Tourism Ontario, District 9) to pay for programming. At this point we are working with a small but enthusiastic working group of Indigenous Kingstonians partnering with Ardoch Algonquin Chief, Mireille LaPointe, to put together programming for the September 26/27 weekend celebration.  Participants include: Michelle Webb, Lisa Cadue, Randy Cadue, Frannie Chaisson, Lorie Young, Brodrick Gabriel and Onagate.

Here are a few details about the project so far:

  1. The build itself will take place from September 7th-27th in Douglas R. Fluhrer Park in Kingston’s Inner Harbour. 
  2. It is being led by Chuck Commanda, Algonquin Traditional Knowledge Keeper.  
  3. Funding has been received from the City of Kingston Heritage Fund for $15,000 to cover Chuck’s fee. An additional $10,000 has been promised from RTO9 (Regional Tourism Ontario, District 9) for programming.
  4. Participating in the build will be high school students from the Limestone Board of Education’s River Program, RMC cadets from the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year and inmates from Joyceville Minimum and the Henry Trail Halfway House. 
  5. Indigenous students from Queen’s and St. Lawrence College are also most welcome as are interested visitors.
  6. The official launch weekend will be September 26th-27th  and will consist of two days of programming.

    The Saturday will be devoted to education about Algonquin culture and will include a panel including Paula Sherman from Trent and Bob Lovelace, Algonquin elder and Mireille LaPointe, Ardoch Algonquin chief.  Algonquin author, Rick Revelle, will be there to share his books.  We are also planning a short slide show of the build itself, a feast of venison chili and bannock,  shoreline medicine walks, a blessing of the boat, and opportunities for visitors to go out on the water in authentic birch bark canoes, led by students with ORCA (Ontario Recreational Canoeing Association accreditation). The Sunday will be more family-oriented and extended to all Indigenous communities in the area with activities for children, a medicine wheel workshop, talking circles, shoreline walks and again opportunities to get out on the water in authentic birch bark canoes.

The photo, taken by Mark D. Read, Ontario Parks, is of a canoe that was built in the summer of 2019 by Chuck Commanda, Algonquin Tradititonal Knowledge Keeper.