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Our Shared Heritage Tour
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Schooner Lois McClure | SHIP'S LOG
Arthur Cohn
Arthur Cohn 
Art Cohn is the Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. He is a professional diver and has coordinated and participated in Lake Champlain's archaeological projects for the past twenty years.
Cohn is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology at both the University of Vermont and Texas A&M University.
He serves aboard Lois McClure as a tugboat operator and able-bodied crew member.

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Welcome Home, Lois McClure!
You're invited to a welcome home reception for the schooner Lois McClure and her crew at Perkins Pier in Burlington, August 9, 5pm.
(Thanks to our friends at the Lake Champlain Basin Program!)
Light refreshments will be served. Hope to see you there! 
Where: Perkins Pier, Burlington, VT
When: August 9, 2008; 5pm

Lois McClure will be open, free of charge, at Burlington's Perkins Pier from August 10 - August 24; open 10am - 5pm daily. 

During September and early October, Lois McClure will be at LCMM's Basin Harbor campus, open daily 10am - 5pm; included with museum admission. 

Chambly | August 3

Arthur Cohn
Since we began traveling with the Lois McClure in 2004 we have had the opportunity to visit more than 60 communities along the waterways of Lake Champlain, Hudson River, Erie Canal, and now the Richelieu River, and St. Lawrence River. I have enjoyed learning about all the places we have visited, and seeing the connections that all these communities have to Lois and Lake Champlain. Chambly, our 6th port on this summer's tour, is turning out to be a very special stop. The theme of this year's journey is "our shared heritage along the waterways" and Chambly, situated on at the north end of the formidable Chambly rapids has a very special story to tell. As we approach the 2009 Quadricentennial anniversary of Champlain's exploration of this "River of the Iroquois" the sight of the still powerful rapids tumbling past Fort Chambly into the lake-like Chambly Basin helps put Champlain's dilemma and decisions into perspective.
Champlain was not only an accomplished sailor, navigator, naturalist and businessman he was also a dedicated journalist who left a record of much of his exploits. In July, 2009, he was traveling south with his Native American allies to "a large lake filled with beautiful islands and a great deal of beautiful country bordering [it]" where their enemies, the Iroquois lived. They had told him that "the roads [waterways] were easy". But at the Chambly rapids, Champlain faced the reality that to proceed further he would have to abandon his "chalupa", leave most of his men behind and travel into enemy territory in a fleet of birch bark canoes. After examining the rapids and "thinking things over by myself, I resolved to go." Walking along these same rapids almost 400 years later I could almost feel Champlain's deliberations as he tried to decide whether to proceed south through this powerful obstacle or proceed on a different route. Champlain's decision to continue into the beautiful lake in 24 canoes with 60 warriors and two French volunteers, resulting in a pitched battle with the Iroquois, ushered in a new era in world history and so impressed Champlain, that he "named the lake, Lake Champlain."
The Old World tensions between France and Britain soon unfolded in the New World and strategic places along the region's waterways were chosen for fortifications. Chambly saw four forts built at the junction of the rapids and basin with the now restored stone fort now housing one of the best interpretive presentations chronicling the European "War of Conquest" the American Struggle for Independence and the War of 1812. A memorial marker on the outside of the fort remembers "General John Thomas . . . and other American soldiers buried in this ground". General Thomas and the others had died of smallpox during the American retreat from Canada in 1776. Today, the Fort Chambly historic site is a nationally important site operated by Parcs Canada and one of the premier interpretive sites in the chain of historic places which stretch from Saratoga to Chambly and are now incorporated in the newly designated Champlain Valley National Heritage Corridor. During our visit to Chambly all of our crew made sure to visit this great site and we hosted many of the Parcs Canada interpreters aboard the schooner.
Fort Chambly
Fort Chambly. Photo by Kerry Batdorf. 
But our visit to Chambly was from the perspective of another era, the 19th century commercial period that linked our region's waterways through the construction of canals. From the viewing platform of the Lois McClure, our replica 19th century canal boat, we found ourselves entering a flight of three stone locks which marks the northern entrance of the historic Chambly Canal. Remarkably, although most American and Canadian canals experienced frequent enlargements and modernizations, the stone lock chambers and hand operated hardware are still the original technology used when the canal opened for traffic in 1843. When the Canadians built the canal they had hoped to recapture the Lake Champlain business lost when the Champlain Canal connecting the lake and Hudson River opened in 1823. The new Chambly Canal did not restore Canada as Lake Champlain's principal trading partner; however, it provided a whole new northern dimension to the marketplaces available to Lake Champlain boatman and led to massive amounts of Canadian products, particularly lumber and farm products finding its way into American markets.
Tug Churchill tows Lois through the Chambly Canal 

Tugboat C.L. Churchill tows Lois McClure through the Chambly Canal.  Photo by Kerry Batdorf.
One of the things we discovered as we admired the stone lock chambers is that the marble blocks to build the system are believed to have come from quarries at Isle La Motte. We will be working with our friends at Parcs Canada to see if we can determine which quarry the stone may have come from. The Chambly locks are still mid-19th century in size so we had to lock the Churchill and Lois separately through the 3-lock combination and through the swing bridge that makes the main street travelers give way to maritime traffic. Once on the upper level, we were given a perfect berth just on the inside of the bridge, visible to all who walked, biked or drove down the waterfront. We now prepared for the reason for our travel; three days of hosting the public aboard for a trip back in time.
On Friday morning, our hosts from Parcs Canada and the Town of Chambly arranged for a Welcome Ceremony where Mayor Denis Lavoie and Acting Regional Parcs Canada Superintendant Claude-Armand Piche warmly welcomed the Lois and her crew. Later in the day we had a surprise visit from former Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle and wife Betsey, who were here biking on the canal towpath that travels by the schooner. It was a real treat to see them, particularly since Peter had so much to do with getting the Lois McClure construction project started. On Saturday we were honored with a visit by MP Yves Lassard and a group of "Friends of the Chambly Canal". Over the next three days almost 1000 visitors braved the rains and came aboard to visit the schooner. We also found that the Parcs Canada lock crew and our Lois crew quickly formed a natural bond of interest and friendship and spent much time relating to each other's experiences along the waterway.
We did experience a fair amount of rainy weather which tried but could not dampen our experience or the enthusiasm of the visitors. I also learned by reading the excellent interpretive panels along the trails around the Chambly Basin that there were at least two different horse ferries which operated here in the 1820's, about the same time they appeared on Lake Champlain crossings. We are all looking forward to Monday morning and our second opportunity of towing Lois with a horse on the towpath. As we begin our transit from the canal basin to Lock 4, our friends at Parcs Canada have arranged for a draft horse to take our lines and tow us in the traditional way these boats were moved throughout the canal. A century ago nobody would have given this activity a second look, but there is already a buzz beginning to rise here about the towing demonstration. However, the report about the horse-tow experiment will have to wait for the next writer of the Lois Log to relate to you. For me, this trip has been a wonderful way to visit and revisit so many of the places I have studied and where history was made along this northern waterway.  
Special Thanks
Parcs Canada
Friends of the Chambly Canal

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