By Jeff Birtch members of the Niagara Frontier and Adirondack chapters

I was first drawn to the legendary design of the Peterborough in the summer of 1976, when friends invited us to an old hunting and fishing club. Their cabin was one of about 25 nestled among the wood-lined shores of a stunning glacier lake in Western Quebec.

We were in awe of the Club’s rustic charm – no electricity, no running water, no phone or Internet – we were truly off the grid with little connection to the outside world. The serene lake was lined with longstanding, wooden and log cabins, complimented by the elegant wood boats docked ashore. Enamored with this remote paradise, we immediately purchased the cabin next to our friends, and so began our 40-year love affair with the land and the people of the Club.

The predominant wooden boat at the Club was the Peterborough, built in Peterborough, Ontario by the Peterborough Canoe Company. A common boathouse held most of the boats at the Club, many of which collected dust over a long period of time.

My first Peterborough was purchased in 1979. It was a 1932 15’ Lakeside, which was beautifully restored by Jim Potter and Miller Potter Boats in Ottawa, Ontario. My son, AJ, has loved the boat ever since he took over ownership on his 14th birthday, 20 years ago.

My second purchase was a 1929 18’ Peterborough Admiral, also lovingly restored by Miller Potter. This is powered by a 1957 fully restored Johnson 18 hp motor. Over the years, there were at least three different models of the Admiral, the primary difference being the deck design.

My third Peterborough, and by the far the most popular with my family and the Club, is our 1956 16’ SeaFarer. It was purchased in nearly mint condition in 2015. The convertible top sets it apart, as does the 65hp 1962 Evinrude with an electric outdrive. This engine was only produced for two years. Consequently, very few parts are available, and a major failure will be its last. I have my eye on a 1956 35hp electric Johnson, which I think would be just right.

Over the last decade, many of the remaining Peterboroughs at the Club have been restored by Miller Potter. There are 24 Peterboroughs that remain, and another 12 boats that were unfortunately lost over time.

3 Comments

  1. I agree Jeff. Beautiful from any angle! I have a 13′ 1954 Peterborough “Sport About” with 1955 Mercury MK25 20hp. Everything restored as original by my OCD! But I love the process. Won “Best outboard” and “Best in Show” Preservation class at recent ACBS yearly show in Saint Michaels, MD. Could have knocked me over with a feather with all the big Garwoods, Hackers and Chris Crafts!!! I was almost embarrassed.
    I would send a few photos but don’t know how on this website. At 73, my phone is way smarter than me. Call or text me at (540) 642-6335 if you want to compare notes. By the way, if you didn’t know, I was told Miller recently died. Sorry.
    Take Care,
    Garland Gentry
    Culpeper, VA

  2. What a wonderful and perfectly timed article. At the ripe old age of 55 I have just become a first time boat owner. Recently I purchased a 13 foot Peterborough Sportsman (still attempting to establish the age). It is beautiful and already in the water at the cottage in Magnetawan on lake Cecebe and will remain there for the summer. I have put a 1964 mercury 3.9 rebuilt like new motor on it and my wife and I are enjoying after dinner jaunts around the lake. However, I am in desperate search for original pictures of this classic along with pictures of refurbished ones as I am planning on taking this on for something to do this coming winter. I would very much like to see pictures of your boat Mr. Gentry. I will text you this note along with my email and perhaps you could share with me some pictures of yours and perhaps some ideas and tips for my winter time project.
    Thanks for the article Jeff, and if you could also share any pictures of the Peterborough Sportsman or contacts to help me with my restoration project,, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Regards,
    Kevin Corriveau
    Windsor Ontario Canada

    • Kevin:
      I’m glad you are enjoying your new (old) boat. I actually can help you with age. There is a number stamped on a piece of wood that is attached to the floor of the boat and the transom at the middle of the transom. If you can give me that number and I can probably tell you the year.

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