The Historical Association of Lewiston’s next program is titled “Building the Replica of Dewitt Clinton’s Canal Boat for the Erie Canal Bicentennial.” John Montague will present at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, at the Lutheran Church of the Messiah Fellowship Hall, 915 Oneida St.
In anticipation of the Erie Canal Bicentennial coming up in 2025, the Buffalo Maritime Center is currently constructing a full-sized, 73-foot replica of the famous Canalboat “Seneca Chief,” the boat that opened the Erie Canal in 1825.
Montague will discuss the origins of this ambitious project traced through the challenges and successes that have brought the vessel to its present stage.
A press release said, “When launched, the boat will lead a reenactment of the 1825 ‘Wedding of the Waters,’ after which the vessel will serve as a permanent Canalside attraction, as well a traveling ‘Buffalo Ambassador’ across New York state. Already the boat, under construction, has attracted thousands of visitors and tourists to Canalside, and engaged hundreds of community volunteers – while at the same time helping to reconnect Buffalo to its Erie Canal origins.”
Montague arrived in Buffalo in 1984 to set up SUNY College at Buffalo’s design history program, where he is now professor emeritus. With two colleagues in the design department, he founded the BSC Center for Watercraft Studies in 1993, an initiative that not only developed academic programs, but also engaged in extensive community outreach. At the time of his retirement in 2006, Montague helped to form the current Buffalo Maritime Center, which focuses on the collection, research, preservation, restoration and replication of historic watercraft of the Niagara Frontier. Using boatbuilding as a vehicle, the center engages in community outreach programs and STEM training for young people.
While formally trained as an art and architectural historian, Montague has worked as a designer, film animator, illustrator and boat builder. He has been active in architectural preservation and urban planning, and heavily involved in Buffalo's waterfront redevelopment and revitalization. Montague is author/illustrator of numerous articles and several books, including the widely used text “Basic Perspective Drawing,” now in its sixth edition (and translated into French, Japanese and Chinese). He is currently BMC director emeritus, an active volunteer, sailor, maritime painter and member of the Buffalo Maritime Center’s board.
This community event is free and open to all, refreshments will be served.