By Susan Evans McClure, Executive Director
After a long and distinguished career serving the people of Vermont as their United States Senator, Patrick Leahy will be retiring from office at the end of his current term in 2023. Senator Leahy leaves a tremendous legacy for our state, our region, and Lake Champlain. His work securing funding and federal support for the Lake Champlain Special Designation Act, the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership, the Lake Champlain Basin Program, and so many other impactful programs has improved Lake Champlain’s natural, cultural, and community resources both for today and for the future. In addition to his important across our region, Senator Leahy has also had a tremendous impact on our work at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Our team has been remembering the many times that Senator Leahy joined us, often with his wife Marcelle, on the lake or on a ship to share Lake Champlain’s tremendous cultural resources with the public. Here are just a few of those times:
Discovering Vermont’s Maritime History: In 2001, the Museum’s team recovered several artifacts from the Battle of Valcour Bay and brought them to the surface to conserve and share them with the public. Senator Leahy deeply understood the importance of this work and of preserving the history of national significance that exists within Lake Champlain. He joined us, along with New York’s then-Senator Hillary Clinton, on the lake to raise some of the artifacts, including the exploded cannon from the Gunboat New York that had been used during the battle.
Connecting the Public with the Revolutionary War in Vermont: Senator Leahy and his team have also been supportive of all of our work to locate and protect the Revolutionary War Gunboat Spitfire. His steadfast leadership as our team worked with local, state, and federal partners to make a plan for the future of this tremendous resource has been invaluable. Thank you to his team for offering their technical expertise, their support, and their guidance.
The Schooner Lois McClure: Senator Leahy has been a supporter of the Museum’s efforts to document and share the incredible story of canals and canalboats since our very first plans to build a replica canal schooner. Since the replica canal schooner Lois McClure launched in 2004, we were lucky to have the Senator join us aboard several times, both in Vermont and throughout the region.
In 2005, the schooner Lois McClure travelled to New York City and welcomed Senator Patrick Leahy and his wife Marcelle Leahy aboard in New York Harbor. When the Schooner travelled to Quebec City in 2008, Senator Leahy and Marcelle Leahy joined the crew again, this time alongside Quebec premier Jean Charest to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City.
Thank you Senator Leahy, and your incredible team of dedicated public servants, for all that you have accomplished. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is ready to build on your legacy and continue to make Vermont and Lake Champlain an incredible place for everyone to explore and experience. We look forward to welcoming Senator Leahy and Marcelle aboard again soon!