Artisans du Saint-Laurent lead boat-building project
Submitted by Bill Cox
The goal of the Artisans du Saint-Laurent is to have a sailboat built by young people, and have them navigate the river to discover their nautical potential.
Participants in Quebec City have been working on a 25-foot boat since 2019. The vessel is of a simple, light construction of wood covered with canvas. It is a barque with two sails and paddles.
The idea for the project came from Philippe Pelletier, a passionate sailing enthusiast, who was inspired by Jeunes Marins urbains de Montréal, a project started several years earlier by Yves Plante to spread boating know-how to youth.
André Martel, an expert artisan devoted to the construction of wooden boats, became the leader of the workshop in Quebec City, and Nicolas Canil the administrator. Bernard Vallée, a sailing enthusiast, is an active member of the team.
Organizers say the idea of having young people build a boat and navigate on the river is an amazing way to keep them engaged, at a time when the latest data from the 2018-2019 school year shows a high school dropout rate of 14.2 per cent, with a slight increase in the last two years.
Artisans du Saint Laurent is comparable to the influence of grandparents on children in a traditional pattern of learning: the volunteers, mostly retirees, assist the youth by teaching carpentry and cabinetmaking techniques. The participants learn to transform the raw material – trees – by cutting rough planks that once planed, sawed, and sanded will become their boat, a symbol of freedom and travel.
The project recycles 12 logs of ash trees that had to be cut down by the Ville de Québec – although the trees were infected by disease, the wood remains healthy and strong.
After pandemic-related delays, the sailboat will finally be launched on Sept. 16 at 3 p.m. at the Baie de Beauport. All are invited to come and see the results and encourage the youth and volunteers of the project. Visit their Facebook page to learn more.