In October 2023, after 20 years of service, the replica sailing canal schooner Lois McClure will be retired, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum announced today. The original Lois McClure was built in 1862.
The replica was initiated in 2001 and launched in 2004 with the goal of better understanding the region’s unique nineteenth century sailing canal schooners, which allowed travel on the region’s narrow canals and sailing on open waters.
Since it’s launch the replica schooner toured the region bringing this history to local communities around Lake Champlain and connecting waterways.
“Our replica, like any wooden boat, has also required increasingly extensive repairs that push beyond the goals of this replica project,” the Museum announced to members and supporters. “With that in mind, the Museum’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to retire the replica after the 2023 season and conclude the replica project.”
Until it’s dismantled, you can you visit the Lois McClure at the Museum, from May to October. Exact season dates and times are posted on their website.
The Museum is launching the Schooner Lois McClure Archiving Project. “For our team of historians, boat builders, and archaeologists, it is imperative that we use this time to document the replica project into a living archive,” the Museum’s announcement said. “We want to preserve our past and everything we have learned and experienced through this replica. Through oral histories, archival and archaeological review, and public stories, we will celebrate the Lois McClure, the people who helped us build and tour this vessel, and our historical understanding of the region’s sailing canal schooners.”
After October 2023, the Lois McClure will be retired and carefully disassembled for a final study by the Museum’s team. Key parts of the boat are expected to anchor a new exhibit at the Museum, opening in 2024.
The Museum is asking those familiar with the Lois McClure to share favorite memories, stories, and photos to become a part of an Archiving Project. They also expect to conduct oral history interviews with members of the original replica building project, volunteers, and staff.
For more information and ways to get involved visit The Schooner Lois McClure Archiving Project website.
The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is located in Vergennes, Vermont.
Photos, from above, courtesy the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum: the Lois McClure; construction underway in ca. 2003; and transiting a canal.