June 13. Basin Harbor, Vermont.
The embarkation day to begin the 2007 "Grand Canal Journey" is just days away and we are all scrambling to complete various personal chores and get the boats and crew ready. Captain Roger and Kathleen have just arrived from their canal boat in Paris, France, eager to add their skills to the mix. Erick Tichonuk and the rest of the crew are working hard to get the Lois McClure and C.L. Churchill ready for this next grand journey, while simultaneously hosting school groups and visitors aboard.
Following the success of our 2005 "Grand Journey From the Green Mountains to Manhattan" and our 2006 "Northern Lake Educational Tour" we have developed and exciting partnership with the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and the New York State Canal Corporation. Together, we have created a dynamic new program that will utilize Lois to bring the history and archaeology of the canal era to communities along the New York State canal system. I am so very pleased to report that through this partnership, a new "Grand Canal Journey" has been created that beginning on June 18th will have us traveling more than 1000 miles, over 100 days and visiting more than 25 communities. On a personal note, being able to get underway as a crew member on Monday and having my son Nathan aboard, it really something I'm looking forward to.
The institutional missions of the three partners has combined to bring the Lois McClure's active presentation of the canal systems past, present and future to a region whose communities share a direct connection to the story of the canal-era. We have enjoyed the strong support of Erie Canalway's Frank Dean, Duncan Hay and Lori Duell and Canal Corp's Carmella Mantello, John Callaghan and Jennifer Meicht in working to create a program that will maximize the benefits of this dynamic new journey.
John Callaghan, who annually puts on the very popular Waterford Tugboat Roundup has been invaluable in providing us a better understanding of the on-water logistics of the route. Frank Dean, the lead NPS person for both the Erie Canalway and Saratoga Battlefield, has provided incredible support, encouragement and guidance. The enthusiastic work of our Partners, the generous support from our Sponsors and the planning and logistical support from the many interested people from the canal communities has brought us to this exciting poised position.
It is also my great pleasure to let you know that we sent just sent a new manuscript entitled Grand Canal Journey: A Voyage through New York's Canal System with the Lois McClure 2007 to our friends at Queen City Printers. This new illustrated booklet will provide crew and visitors alike with historical perspectives of the canals origins and impacts and also some perspectives about the canal systems present use and future options. It has been a true pleasure to work with canal-era historians Duncan Hay from National Park Service and Craig Williams, from the New York State Museum on this project. Both men have been devoted to documenting the canals rich history while also working to preserve its future. Duncan and Craig are two of the principal advocates for the preservation and public use of the Day Peckinpaugh.
It was through Craig's efforts that I was able to meet and talk with the venerable Captain Frank Godfrey at Whitehall in 2005. Several generations of Captain Godfrey's family were involved in the old towpath canal and later on the Barge Canal and related waterways doing tugboat operations. Captain Frank was the author of The Champlain Canal and Sailors, Waterways and Tugboats I have known. Captain Godfrey passed away in 2006. I also note the passing of Captain Merritt Carpenter, one of the lake's great mariners and historians and Colonel John Williams, who loved Lake Champlain and its history and whose son Jerry is a Captain for the Lake Champlain Transportation Co. Both were mentors to me during their years of involvement in the Champlain Maritime Society, the precursor to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.
One of the greatest joys of my canal research and the Lois McClure project has been spending time with Cora Archambeault. Cora lives at the Fiddler's Elbow at the northern end of Whitehall's old channel. Cora, now 103, grew up her families on wooden canal boats as they traveled the extending system from New York to Canada and Buffalo. Her insights, recollections and stories have provided a picture of early 20th century canal boat-life life could not have been understood in any other way. The other special voice from an even earlier canal era (1861-1889) is Captain Theodore Bartley. For all those years Captain Bartley kept a daily journal of everywhere he was going and all he was doing . This extraordinary record re-discovered and transcribed by his great grand-daughter in-law, Barbara Bartley, edited by Russ Bellico and made available by Purple Mountain Press and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Life on a Canal Boat: The Journals of Theodore D. Bartley. Barbara Bartley is also one of our on-board volunteer interpreters.
As with the 2005 Grand Journey on the Hudson River and New York City, the crew and core of volunteers of this 2007 Grand Canal Journey will keep this traditional "Lois Log", to share our experiences along the way. I have rarely felt the kind of pent-up enthusiasm currently being generated among communities along the canal. Of course we still have 100+ days to realize that potential and do it with great care. Our Erick T. has done a masterful job, with the help of our Partners, in pulling together the arrangements for each port-of-call. In addition to Erick, serving as 1st Mate and Project Manger, our core crew consists of: Roger Taylor, Captain Len Ruth, 2nd Mate, Boswain Kerry Batdorf, Ships Carpenter Kathleen Carney Barbara Batdorf Tom Larson Adam Jarrett Elisa Nelson, Homeport logistics Sandy Jacobs, Tugboat Captain Art Cohn, Tugboat Captain, Project Director. We also have over 50 volunteers, most of them veterans of the 2005 Grand Journey, that are signed in to participate in at least one of the 14 rotations. I am so pleased and excited to have this opportunity and we look forward to keeping you posted through our "Lois Log".
I would be remiss if I didn't formally acknowledge our Partners and Sponsors. It is because of them and their support that we are able to bring this "Grand Canal Journey" to life.
Erie CanalWay National Heritage Corridor
New York Canal Corporation
Pride of New York
Saratoga Spring Water
Lake Champlain Ferries
Lake Champlain Basin Program
Lake Champlain Chocolates
And also made possible by these supporters:
Basin Harbor Club · Honda Marine · Champlain Quadricentennial Commission · Tom's Marine · Vermont Tent Company · The McClure Family · Point Bay Marina