The first rowboat builders settled in the village of Saint-Laurent in the 19th century. Their shops soon spread eastward along the shores, south of Chemin Royal. They built open boats that offered no protection to sailors, passengers and goods. Up to 13 metres long, these rowboats were used to travel the river, especially by people going to farmer’s markets in the City of Québec. Thanks to their economic impact, these rowboat shops were a great boon to the village. In the 20th century, rowboats were shortened to 4.5 metres and were mainly used as pleasure boats or as lifeboats on larger vessels.
The Godbout Rowboat Shop
On an early June morning in 1989, a rather peculiar event was seen on the St. Lawrence seaway. The Godbout Rowboat Shop, previously located a few kilometres from the Parc maritime, set off on its first and final trip. To preserve one of the last vestiges of the rowboat construction era, the shop was put on a barge and moved to its current location at the Parc maritime. Since then, the Godbout Rowboat Shop and its impressive collection of tools have been declared a heritage property.