The York Boat
The York Boat came into use in approximately 1823 for transport of supplies and furs to and from York Factory near the mouth of the Hayes River on Hudson's Bay, to Hudson's Bay Company posts which were accessible by water. The boats were constructed of soft woods such as spruce and therefore only lasted three summers. The construction design was similar to Orkney Isles fishing boats which are thought to have been influenced by York Boat resting at Lower Fort Garry.
Norsemen who inhabited northern Scotland in earlier times. The standard boat size was generally 42 feet bow to stern with a keel length of 30 feet, eight or 9 feet wide and three or 4 feet deep with a flat oval bottom propelled usually by eight oarsmen, directed by a steersman. Eight oars, or sweeps, 20 feet long were each manned from the opposite side of the boat providing greater leverage. A square sail was used to rest the oarsmen whenever practical.
Two or more York Boats usually travelled together. The crew carried 80 or 90 packets weighing up to 90 pounds each over the many portages on each trip. The empty boats were pushed/pulled over the portage using log rollers underneath. Very strenuous work indeed.
In addition to supplies, they brought Hudson's Bay men's families to Lower Fort Garry and elsewhere. Mrs. Ellen (Win) Linklater (nee Moar) remembered her childhood trip with several siblings by York Boat from her father's post at Little Grand Rapids en route to their Cloverdale farm in the 1890s (NE 8-14-4E).
With the development of steam ships in the 1880s, which travelled the length of Lake Winnipeg to Selkirk, the need for York Boats declined and consequently the boat works at Norway House and York Factory were closed.