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Lois McClure under sail near Burlington, VT
Lois McClure under sail.

Schooner Lois McClure 2017


1862-class Sailing Canal Boat Lois McClure

The schooner Lois McClure is a full-scale replica of an 1862-class sailing canal boat, constructed in Burlington, Vermont. Although she is a fully functional replica, we do not offer boating tours; she is strictly a dockside experience. She is available for private functions, group tours, school programming, and public visitation. Call (802) 475-2022 for more information and to reserve your time slot.

The schooner is named in honor of Lois McClure, who, along with her husband Mac, has been a major contributor to this and many other worthy community projects in the greater Burlington, VT area.


Brief History of Sailing Canal Boats

Two images: the replica Lois McClure under sail with a nearly identical historic photo of the canal schooner P.E. Havens
Replica Lois McClure alongside circa 1900 photo of P.E. Havens.

In 1823, the Northern Canal connecting Lake Champlain to the Hudson River was completed. The lake, which since the end of the American Revolution had been an expanding commercial highway, now virtually exploded in trade. Along with the traditionally designed sloops, schooners and the recently invented steamboats the lake now witnessed the birth of a watercraft new to North America; the sailing-canal boat.

The Lake Champlain sailing-canal boat was built as an "experiment" and designed to be able to sail from distant lake ports to the canal on the power of the wind. Upon reaching the canal, the masts were lowered and centerboard raised and the now transformed vessel could directly enter the canal. The first editions of the craft, dubbed the "1823" class, were characterized by the randomness of their design. By 1841 the design had been standardized and the "1841" class were just under 80 feet in length and roughly 13 feet in beam, so that they could fit the locks and canal prism of that period. By 1862, the expansion of the canal allowed for an expansion of design and the "1862" class was developed. This new vessel was roughly 88 feet in length and 14 feet in beam, with a slightly deeper depth of hold.

Two shipwrecks in particular were studied for the creation of our replica Lois McClure, both located in Burlington Harbor, Vermont. For the detailed story on these wrecks, follow the links to the OJ Walker, and General Butler. Now these shipwrecks are part of the Lake Champlain Underwater Historic Preserve System, accessible by any SCUBA diver.

Building the Replica Schooner Lois McClure

Construction of Lois McClure began in earnest in 2002 at the Lake Champlain Transportation Company's Burlington Shipyard, shortly after the building of her tender, Mac. Since no plans exist for these sailing canal boats, LCMM turned to a talented group of naval architects, historians, and archaeologists. Both General Butler and O.J. Walker have been studied and documented. These reports were handed over to naval architect Ron A. Smith to create the plans necessary to build Lois McClure.

View from the deck of Lois McClure on launching day
Lois McClure is launched, July 3, 2004. Photo by Eric Bessette.

Boatbuilders Rob Thompson, Paul Rollins, Steve Page and Lianna Tennal headed up the large team of LCMM volunteers and staff, spending three seasons constructing the schooner, while keeping the space open for visitors to view the work in progress. The hull was built from more than 20,000 feet of white oak. White pine was used for the decks, while masts, booms and gaff were hewn from white spruce. This wood was nearly all local: with with spruce from Vermont, white oak from Vermont and New York, pine from Vermont and Maine, cedar from Maine, and even recycled Mahogany from NASA.

But our greatest resource was (and still is) our volunteers: thousands of hours of time were donated by our tireless volunteers to build and interpret this fascinating vessel.

2004 Launch and Inaugural Tour

Lois McClure was launched July 3, 2004, attended by thousands of people on the Burlington waterfront. After some work on her rigging, she was ready for her first voyage around the lake. The Inaugural Tour brought Lois McClure to many ports of call around Lake Champlain, including Whitehall, Westport, Essex, Port Henry, and Plattsburgh, NY, and St. Albans, Grand Isle, Vergennes, Basin Harbor, and Shoreham, VT.

Lois McClure alongside the Statue of Liberty, 2005
Lois McClure sails at dawn
in front of the Statue of Liberty,
August 16, 2005.

2005 Grand Journey

In 2005, Lois McClure embarked on the Grand Journey, "From the Green Mountains to Manhattan", sponsored in large part by the farm families who own Cabot Creameries.

In these four months, she visited Burlington, Essex, Basin Harbor, and Whitehall on Lake Champlain, then traveled southwards through the Champlain Canal and Hudson River, welcoming visitors at Fort Ann, Fort Edward, Schuylerville, Mechanicville, Troy, Albany, Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, West Point, Constitution Island, Peekskill, Jersey City, NJ, Port Washington, Kings Point, and Battery Park City in Manhattan, NYC. In all, she was host to over 22,000 visitors. See the map of the Grand Journey.

Throughout the 2005 Grand Journey, Lois McClure crew members and volunteers shared their experiences through Ship's Logs.

2006 Fall Educational Tour

The schooner toured the northern part of Lake Champlain, visiting St. Albans, VT, Grand Isle, VT, and Plattsburgh, NY in September and October. During the week, she was host to hundreds of school children from these communities, who otherwise may not have been able to travel to Burlington on field trips. Read more about this journey through the Ship's Logs.

Erie Canal Map
2007 Grand Canal Journey through the Erie Canal in New York State.
Click to download the full .pdf, courtesy Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

2007 Grand Canal Journey

In 2007, Lois McClure embarked upon the Grand Canal Journey. The replica 1862 canal schooner left her home port at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum on June 18, 2007 to travel across the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. Over the course of four months, she stopped at more than 25 ports of call for tours, festivals, and celebration along the 1,000 mile voyage through the heart of Upstate New York.

This tour commemorated and celebrated the nationally significant Erie Canalway and New York’s contribution to the formation of the American nation. The 524-mile canal system, over 180 years old, is an engineering marvel that knitted together New England, New York, and the west, spreading commerce and ideas. The journey also showcases today’s canalside communities and the many historic, cultural, natural, and recreational assets they offer. Read more about this journey through the Ship's Logs.

The Grand Canal Journey was a partnership between the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, and the New York State Canal Corporation.

Quebec City
One of Lois McClure's first stops on her
"Shared Heritage" Tour was Québec City.
Image courtesy of Québec City Tourism.

2008 Our Shared Heritage Tour

In 2008, the schooner Lois McClure traveled north to the Province of Quebec, stopping at ports-of-call along the way. She was in Quebec City for their 400th anniversary celebration, commemorating the founding of that city in 1608 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain. Then Lois McClure traveled to the St. Lawrence communities of Montreal and Trois-Rivieres, and then south along the Richilieu River and Chambly Canal to the communities of Sorel, Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Chambly, and Saint-Jean. Read more about this journey through the Ship's Logs.

2009 Quadricentennial Tour - Flagship of the Quadricentennial

2009 marked the 400th anniversary of French explorer Samuel de Champlain's visit to the lake that now bears his name. Lois McClure traveled to ports all along Lake Champlain in New York and Vermont helping lake communities commemorate this historic event. Read more about this journey through the Ship's Logs.

2010 Our Shared Heritage: World Canals Tour on the Erie Canal

The Champlain Valley's ambassador to history, the 1862 canal schooner Lois McClure, embarked on a Return to the Erie Canal tour beginning in July, 2010. The tour culminated at the World Canals Conference in Rochester, NY in September. Along the way, she visited more than 20 historic ports. Photos and stories from this journey are on our Blog. Many thanks to the primary sponsorship from the National Park Service's Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership, the Lake Champlain Basin Program, and the New York State Canal Corporation.

2011 Farm and Forest Tour - Lake Champlain & Beyond

The goal of the 2011 tour was to raise public awareness about the importance of sustainable agriculture, responsible forestry, and clean, healthy waterways as part of a vibrant economy. Despite multiple scheduling adjustments due to the devastating effects of Hurricane Irene, Lois McClure traveled to ports around Lake Champlain and the Champlain Canal. Along the way we were joined by New York State Canal Corporation's Tug Urger. Photos and stories from this journey are on our Blog. Many thanks to the primary sponsorship from the National Park Service's Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership, the Lake Champlain Basin Program, and the New York State Canal Corporation.

McDonough's Victory on Lake Champlain
Macdonough's Victory on Lake Champlain, September 11, 1814. [detail]
This decisive land and lake engagement resulted in the culmination of the War of 1812. The Bicentennial provided an opportunity to explore this little-remembered but significant chapter in world history.

2013 Tour - 1813, The Story Continues

Anniversaries provide special moments to focus attention on historic events. In 2012-2014, we commemorate the 200th anniversary of the United States declaration of the War of 1812. To mark this international conflict, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum has completed a four-month tour to Canada, New York and Vermont to engage communities with stories relating to that history. The dynamic outreach program presented the political, environmental and cultural stage of the War of 1812 and the cross-border conflict that ushered in 200 years of peace. The tour began with the Champlain Canal and continued west across the Erie Canal to Buffalo, NY to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Commodore Perry’s victory at the Battle of Lake Erie. We entered Lake Ontario via the Oswego Canal and then headed down the St. Lawrence River, stopping at previously unvisited ports of call in New York, Ontario and Quebec. We returned to Lake Champlain through the Richelieu River and Chambly Canal. Beginning in June and ending in October the tour encompassed over 40 ports of call. Many thanks to primary partners NYS Canal Corporation and the State of Vermont and sponsors Lake Champlain Basin Progarm, National Park Service, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership, and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

2014 Tour: 1814: From War to Peace

On the 200th anniversary of the final year of the War of 1812, Lois McClure's 2014 tour will focus on the land and sea British invasion of the US through Lake Champlain. We will bring this important and dynamic story to communities on Lake Champlain and the Hudson and Richelieu Rivers.

2015 Season: Repair and Refit in Waterford, NY

2016 Season: Lake Champlain and Public Boarding in Burlington, Vermont

2017 Season: Legacy Tour:
Waterways & Trees: Stewarding Their Interconnected Relationship


Of course, none of our amazing voyages would have been possible without the unending support from our sponsors. Thank You.

AIGBarnes FoundationBasin Harbor Club Brookfield PowerCity of BurlingtonCabot CreameryChamplain Quadricentennial CelebrationCooperative Insurance of MiddleburyErie Canalway National Heritage Corridor • Gobeille Hospitality Group • GoodrichHazelett Strip CastingHonda Marine • John LeClair Foundation • KeySpanKPMGLadd's LandingLane PressLake Champlain Basin ProgramLake Champlain ChocolatesLake Champlain Regional Chamber of CommerceLake Champlain Transportation CompanyMcCadam Cheese • McClure Family • Merchant's Bank Middlebury CollegeNational GridNew York State Canal CorporationPeople's United BankPoint Bay MarinaPride of New YorkSaratoga WaterShelburne ShipyardSmith BarneyState of VermontTom's MarineVermont Tent CompanyVermontVacation.comWalter Cerf Foundation


Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy • NY Congressman Maurice Hinchey