Children enjoy a ride in a Shelburne longboat. The society is focusing on finding new members.
With a spirit of optimism, a motion to dissolve the Shelburne Longboat Society was resoundingly defeated at the Society’s annual general meeting March 24.
“It’s because we love the boats and we love the town,” said new president Phil Crosbie in his opening remarks. A small membership – 23 members, most over the age of 55 – and empty financial coffers were reasons for the motion to dissolve the society and dispose of its assets.
Crosbie said members need to focus on finding new members. And, he mentioned the possibility of using the longboats to ferry people from the cruise ships this summer along the waterfront.
Crosbie was quick to give thanks to retiring president and secretary treasurer Jim and Suzanne Mahaney. In an email to members, Crosbie wrote: “They brought the idea of two home built longboats to life and with the support of the original directors and members have made the ultimate tribute to the boat-building heritage, and history, of the town. I fully understand why after all these years that these guys would want to stand down and actually have a life - so thank you Suzanne, Jim and all our former and retiring members and directors who have contributed so much to our group - we wish you all stiff oars and fair winds!”
The two wooden longboats were built for the 2008 celebration of the 250th landing of the United Empire Loyalists in Shelburne. Since then, they have appeared as ambassadors for Shelburne in local parades, at the Mahone Bay Wooden Boat Festival and beyond. The longboats, their crews and animators dressed in eighteenth-century attire were front and centre in Naval Centenary celebrations on the Halifax waterfront in 2010 and on the Miramichi, New Brunswick at the Tall Ship Festival in 2013.
The new board of directors are Co-Chairs Phil Crosbie and Bob Preston; treasurer, Jim Mahaney; secretary, Leah Griffith and directors Jon Swim and Pat DeMolitor.
The group decided that the Town of Shelburne would be approached to see if it could insure the Society’s building under its policy. Crosbie and Bob Preston, an active builder, rower and member of the society, will attend the upcoming Founders Days meeting on April 8. Liverpool’s Privateer Days was suggested as an event the boats and crews could attend, if funding were found for insurance and travel.
Plans are underway for the fourth annual plant sale by the Society, to be held on May 10 at the King Street Timbermart. Donations of plants or cash donations to help keep the boats afloat, will be accepted by any of the directors.
The next meeting of the society, to which new members and people just thinking about becoming a member, are invited, will be held April 28 at 7 p.m., at 1822 Sandy Point Road, the home of Phil and Rita Crosbie.