The Antique Boat Museum's mission is to collect, preserve, and celebrate boats, as well as related artifacts with the goal to further the public's understanding of boating's importance to North America's cultural history. The museum focuses particularly on the impact boating has had on the area of the St. Lawrence River, NY. A group of people who were committed to preserving the cultural and nautical heritage of the St. Lawrence River founded the 1000 Islands Museum in the 1960's in Clayton, New York along the St. Lawrence River itself.
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The Antique Boat Auxiliary was formed by a group of people wanting to the preserve the boating heritage of the area, and the group organized an antique boat show within the museum in 1965. The show slowly grew in size and became an annual event. With the support of the Antique Boat Auxiliary, a handful of waterfront properties were acquired in the early 1970's, and a permanent museum to house the annual boat show was established. An amendment to the museum's chart in 1990 renamed the institution to the Antique Boat Museum.
Throughout the fifty years since the found of the Antique Boat Museum, a substantial waterfront campus has been built up. The grounds consist of 4.5 acres of program space, 1,300 feet of the shoreline of the St. Lawrence River, and 1,900 feet of dockage. The campus' ten buildings feature thirty-three thousand square feet for public programs, twenty-nine thousand square feet of space for exhibits, administration space, a library, archives, and storage for collections. Twenty thousand square feet of boat collection storage just a short distance from the main campus of the museum supports programs and exhibits.
Visitors are recommended to plan on spending a minimum of one and a half hours at the Antique Boat Museum. The museum's main campus, as well as its exhibit buildings, are accessible by wheelchair, with paved paths winding between the buildings through beautiful gardens and landscaped lawns. The museum's Quest for Speed exhibit, located in the Gold Cup Building, highlights boat racing's history. Complete in 2008, the exhibition explores the Dixie II, the amazing Harmsworth Trophy and Gold Cup winner, to the record setting hydroplanes and modified Packard and Liberty airplane engines.
Visitors to the Antique Boat Museum can choose to do a walk tour of La Duchesse, a 1903 houseboat,during their visit. The tour lasts about thirty minutes and is offered through one of the museum's special Admission Packages. Guests need to sign up for the tour in advance.
Guests wanting a more serene experience on the water have the opportunity at the museum to take a tranquil row on the waters of French Creek Bay in a traditional St. Lawrence Skiff. Attendants are available daily between the months of June and August to help visitors get out on the water. There is no extra cost to use the skiffs, as they are included with admission to the Antique Boat Museum. Donations are appreciated, however, to assist in the upkeep of the boats.
750 Mary Street, Clayton, North York, Phone: 315-686-4104