The Boat Builders of Hamilton

The Boat Builders of Hamilton
by Laura Edith Baldwin

This book won the City of Hamilton's 1995 Heritage Book Award

Hamilton's waterfront, in the 19th and up to the early part of the 20th century, was a popular centre for boating activities. Prior to the automobile, races, regattas, private pleasure craft, made the harbour a very lively scene.

Laura Baldwin

Indians were the first to build boats at this spot, but their canoes were a private undertaking. But the story of the men who saw the commercial possibilities at the waterfront is many stories in one.

There is the story of the romantic Frenchman, Henry L. Bastien of Terrebonne, Quebec, who was the first to see the opportunity for profit here. He proposed to his wife by valentine, and was accepted in the same way. There is the tale of Thomas Jutten, who came to Hamilton from England as a boy of ten, became a boat builder, eventually rose to become mayor of Hamilton three times. The most tragic, the most dramatic tale is that of Ben Kerr, whose headless body was washed ashore. That murder was never solved.

Henry Askew was the first to operate police boats on Hamilton Bay. Many others used their skills to satisfy the demand for canoes, rowboats, yachts, sailboats. There is the tale of the Thompson family, boat builders, who lost six of their family in a drowning May 24th, 1887. James Thompson was the only survivor of those on board. He lived into his nineties.

The book contains a glossary, a list of nautical terms, and a map of the waterfront showing the location of the boat works. There are many illustrations, some from the original Bastien catalogue, and from the Thompson collection. Short accounts are given of the various boating clubs and races.

Mention is made of the coming of the Tall Ships and of Aquafest, a festival at the waterfront which took place in 1991. This event included a tour of Canada's largest Tall Ship and the destroyer HMCS Terra Nova, which served in the recent Gulf War. Balloon rides, which were then sponsored by Amstel Breweries, are now a very popular annual affair.

Table of Contents below.

ISBN:0-9696423-1-8 or 9781894747202 | WMPub #1012 | 8½" x 5½"
54 pages Soft Cover | $8.95 CDN

Table of Contents

2      Introduction

7      Thomas W. Jutten

16     Henry L. Bastein

23     Henry Askew

25     William Johnson

27      Robertson Brothers

30    Zealand's Yard

33    Ben Kerr

36    Whittaker, James Massie, The Thompsons, Weir, McKay Brothers

39    Boat Clubs and Races

50    Glossary