The H. Lee White Maritime Museum at Oswego’s S/V Ontario refit project continues to be a catalyst for the advancement of the HLWMM’s mission. The traditional 1850s-style gaff topsail schooner Ontario will become the future of tall-ship sailing on the American shores of Lake Ontario, and the cornerstone of the HLWMM’s on-the-water educational programming.
Ontario was designed by Francis MacLachlan; designer of the brigantines St. Lawrence II, Playfair, and Pathfinder, all of which still ply the Canadian waters of Lake Ontario today. Ontario’s construction began when her parent organization, the Oswego Maritime Foundation (OMF), laid her keel in 1988. Between that year and 2012, over 200 OMF volunteers contributed countless hours to construction, preliminary sea trials, maintenance, and mission planning. In 2012, the Maritime Museum acquired the assets of the OMF, including Ontario, to spearheading the tall ship’s refit and acquire U.S. Coast Guard certification.
In 2018, the Maritime Museum formed the Schooner Ontario Exploratory Committee – comprised of community stakeholders, Maritime Museum leadership, and donors – to begin the process of conceptualizing the future of the vessel. The HLWMM promptly hired Buckley Yacht Design of Hamilton, ON to develop modern ship-plans to meet the educational needs of the HLWMM and ensure timely USCG certification. BYD provided a scope of work to conform with our budgetary needs, as well as certification. Too, the Committee’s fundraising efforts have justified the vessel’s potential, raising over $130,000 thus far through corporate sponsorships, private donations, and fundraisers.
In 2022, the HLWMM will begin the physical process of refitting the vessel. Up first on the docket is to sandblast, provide new bottom coats, and have a formal inspection of the vessel’s hull. Additional work will begin on the vessel’s interior, replacing aged plumbing, wiring, and other system’s infrastructure as the HLWMM works behind the scenes on the development of vessel’s educational mission.
As the HLWMM seeks to return tall ship sailing to the first freshwater port established on the Great Lakes, we implore you to donate in support of Maritime Museum’s continued efforts. Interested in volunteering with us? For more information, or to learn how you can support the future of tall ship sailing on Lake Ontario, contact Executive Director, Mercedes Niess, at 315-342-0480.