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The Boat at Flemming Cabin c1920


This lovely photo evokes a lost age of peace and serenity on the waterfront. The two boats in the waterfront are 12 foot and 14 foot Jones rowboats probably built in Victoria by TC Jones prior to 1919 with possibly the help of his son TD Jones.


The rowboat behind is very similar to models found on Lake Cowichan and in the Crofton area. A perfectly serviceable boat but without the refinements found in the Jones rowboats. The rowboat on the other side of the boat house sports a seat back for someone who wishes to sit in the bow facing aft while someone else is rowing.


Particularly on the Jones boats the two rowing stations did not indicate the need for two oarsmen but instead were placed in their respective positions so the boat could be balanced depending upon the weight and distribution of the people aboard. For two people one would sit in the stern comfortably resting against the seat back while the oars person would sit on the forward seat and the boat would be perfectly balanced.


For a single oars person sitting on the midships seat resulted in perfect balance. With three people in the boat depending on their weight the oarsmen could either be on the forward seat or on the midships seat.


These boats would have cost approximately $35 each complete with oars and would've been completed in about a week or 10 days of work. There would've been patterns for each of the planks for the seats, for the transom and seatback, for the floorboards and there would've been a set of building moulds set up on a strong back for each of the different models.


Thus, when an order came in all the layout work had been done and it was just a matter of cutting everything to shape and fitting it in place. The only job where two people were required was for the riveting the ribs in place after steaming.


There were at least several dozen builders of small boats like these on Vancouver Island from the first settlements to the early 1950s. Small rowboats, small sailing craft, canoes (both native and settlers) were ubiquitous on the waters of this coast and until the advent of the gasoline engine and its successor, the diesel, one could look out upon a busy waterfront scene and hear only the wind, the waves lapping gently against the laps of the planking, and now and again, the quiet puff of a steam launch with the silence only really broken by the shriek of a steam whistle of a large vessel requiring right-of-way.

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