Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Yachts and Oakville: Schooner Days MCCLXIX (1269)
Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), 12 May 1956
Full Text
Yachts and Oakville
Schooner Days MCCLXIX (1269)

by C. H. J. Snider

OAKVILLE's last shipyard has, we understand, become the property of Mr. Harry Greb, who brought the splendid ketch MIR out from Sweden to Toronto three years ago. Mr. Greb has also a good building plant at Bronte. The Oakville yard has specialized in yacht building and service all this century--and, indeed, since Oct. 25, 1887, when the famous and long-lived yacht Aggie was launched there. She lasted till 1945.

Aggie was built by Capt. James Andrew, who operated the yard for forty years. There in 1896 he built the more famous cutter yacht Canada. She was the first winner of the Blue Ribbon of the Inland Seas, the Canada's Cup, now held by the Royal Canadian Yacht Club after ten hard-fought international contests.


Other yachts built by Andrew for the Canada's Cup were Beaver, Minota, Invader I, Strathcona, Temeraire, Zorayaa, besides Ahmeek, and the fine cutter Merry Thought.

Andrew, an intelligent builder and designer and schooner captain, built commercial vessels as well as yachts, the Toronto ferries Sadie and Thistle, and schooner at "$30 a ton or $1 a bushel," these prices being based on carrying capacity. After his death the yard was taken over by Commodore Norman R. Gooderham and partners of the RCYC, G. Finch-Noyes and T. B. F Benson, so that its yacht associations continued.

Andrew's yard, "below the bridge," on the western side of the Sixteen Mile Creek, was not the first nor the only shipyard in Oakville. There was one on the east side of the creek at the head of William st., belonging to Duncan Chisholm, and another "below the bridge" on an island farther south, according to a plan dated 1835.


From Mrs. Hazel C. Mathews' excellent "Oakville and the Sixteen, The History of an Ontario Port," it may be learned that the first yard of all, Col. Wm. Chisholm's, the founder of Oakville, was "above the bridge," in the bend of the river, nearly a mile from the lake, practically at the head of navigation for the Sixteen. There was a mill dam above it. Where Navy st., one of Oakville's originals, terminates in the promontory or cape in the bend of the river provided the first shipyard site. Other yards "above the bridge" and near Dundas st. were John Potter's and the Simpson brothers'.

This bridge so often mentioned is the one which still carries Colborne st. and the old highway traffic across the Oakville creek. It used to be a swing bridge so that the loftiest masted vessels could pass up and down. It is our belief that from the first days of Oakville as a port, in the 1830s, the bridge which carried the Lake Shore rd. traffic across the creek would either be swung or pulled back and forth on rollers.


Latest Oakville yacht we have heard of is one of the new dragons the Duke of Edinburgh has made popular on this lake and on this continent.

This one is intended for the World's Olympics in Melbourne, if she is fast enough to win out in the eliminations with an R.C.Y.C. crew. A large group of R.C.Y.C. boys have financed her, and Skipper David Howard, who brought back the Canada's Cup with Venture III has agreed to give this dragon his best. She has been built by that promising amateur Bob Davis, who made a great success of his own sea-going ketch last year.

Snider, C. H. J.
Media Type
Item Type
Date of Publication
12 May 1956
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.392750802784 Longitude: -79.7068786242676
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.441572817512 Longitude: -79.6684146136475
Richard Palmer
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Yachts and Oakville: Schooner Days MCCLXIX (1269)