The Harbour Ferries


I've held back on this one for a while but if I'm going to do the promised blog on stitch and glue boat construction, it will have to come out of the shadows.

I have hinted a couple of times in "Shipyard Memories" blogs that I had built boats that some of you had likely actually ridden on. Well these are they.

From 1990 until 2004 when my wife and I sold the venture and retired, "Victoria Harbour Ferries" was our business. I built the boats, did the maintenance and repairs and served as "front man" going to all the meetings and joining all the organizations. My wife served as office manager starting in 1993. When we sold, the company had eleven boats in service.

The second photo is of the very first ferry that I built in 1982 for False Creek Ferry in Vancouver. The second is in the background.

The third photo is one of the Aquabus fleet, also in Vancouver, for whom I built four in 1985 and 1986. All six of these were in service during Expo '86 which took place on the shores of False Creek in Vancouver.

The last two photos are of the Victoria Harbour Ferry Ballet, a weekly event in the summer season held in downtown Victoria in front of the legislative buildings. I choreographed it in 1994 as soon as we had enough boats to perform one. It has been on TV screens in several countries thanks to the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria.

The photo in the middle is a token construction shot of one of the first boats.

This is getting long but just a few facts:

Each of these boats has traveled a distance equal to at least once around the world at the equator, several probably twice or more.

Conservatively five million people have ridden on them, again, possibly twice that.

The Victoria boats average around ten thousand dockings a year. (five times an hour, twelve hours a day, 240 day season but not all boats used every day.)

I could go on and on but I will stop here.

Edit 2022: This was originally posted elsewhere eleven years ago. Since that time the above numbers will have at least doubled.
It always makes me smile to think of how many people have ridden on boats that I built with my own hands.

Thanks for looking.

The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.


Those are cool, and what a great venture.

Main Street to the Mountains

We didn't ride them be we did see them when we were in Victoria.  

--Nathan, TX. Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

That is a treat to see something you built get used to much and help so many people.
what a fun business. those ferries are very cool. ive been to victoria a few times but never noticed them.

working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

Very cool, Paul! I may have been on one of your boats. Walked around the end of False Creek (down past the museum?) one beautiful day when I was hanging out in Vancouver, then treated myself to a ferry ride because my feet were tired. Wikipedia has more about the Granville Island fleet for the curious.

May you have the day you deserve!

Wonderful boats.   How could one not love to take a ride.   


Very neat little boats.  Look to be well built.

daveg, SW Washington & AZ

What a great venture!

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".

Dont really know what to say about the boats, the story was great.

No Bees. No Honey. Bees Lives Matter