Canalers & Shipwrights of the Champlain Valley
LCMM is making an effort to re-establish the history of the people who built, owned, and worked on Lake Champlain’s canal boats. Museum staff have accumulated a vast collection of documents relating to the construction and operations of the lake’s canal boats from U.S. Customs and New York State Canal Department records. Nearly 4,000 canal boats called Lake Champlain home during the period 1819 to 1940. Most of these vessels had a crew of two to four people. In some cases, the entire canal boat family lived aboard their vessel year round.
While the state and federal records make it easy to trace the movement, growth, and decline of the canal boat trade, an understanding of the canaler’s way of life – the day-to-day experiences – has proven more difficult to reconstruct. Diaries, letters, photographs, and ship’s logs are rare; of those that exist, probably most remain in family hands.
So we ask for your assistance. If you or someone you know has documents, illustrations, or oral history about Lake Champlain’s canalers please contact us. LCMM is willing to share any information that we have collected about the vessels and their builders, owners, and masters.
Check out the lists of names of canal boats, builders, owners, and masters and see if you recognize a name. Thank you for your assistance in this ongoing project.