Provincial boats are built to last
The fibreglass fishing boats built by Kensington-based Provincial Boat and Marine Ltd are known worldwide for their speed, comfort, and durability. Owner Gordon Campbell jokes that the durability can be both a blessing and a curse.
“The first one we ever built 42 years ago is still fishing out of French River,” he said. “We probably should have charged more for it back then.”
Eastern Canada’s oldest fishing boat manufacturer builds what Cambell calls “lifetime boats.” Since Campbell and his wife Elaine purchased the company in 1974, they have been constructing between five and 20 boats a year that sell for around $300,000 each.
“It’s a good business,” Campbell said. “We have steady demand.”
The boats are sought after because they are designed by a naval architect, so they’re forgiving and don’t 'pound' when conditions are rough, Campbell explained. They’re also fast and handle well.
“The bragging right seems to be that you can get from harbour to harbour faster in a Provincial boat,” Campbell said, adding that his boats have sailed to seas as far away as the South Pacific.
They build boats out of Fiberglas because they have found, from experience, that it requires less maintenance and has a higher resale value.
“Our boats are designed with strength and endurance in mind, while paying strict attention to the safety and comfort of the crews that will be manning them,” Campbell said.
The company was incorporated in 1959 by Archie Johnson (of Woodleigh Replicas fame), Ivan Harrington and Earl Davison. At that time it was primarily a road building company that built boats in the winter. But when the Campbells took over they decided to focus solely on boat building.
"When PEI businesses succeed, we all succeed."
The Campbells now have 12 full-time boat-builders and are looking for more. Their son Jay just completed his MBA at the University of Prince Edward Island and is interested in joining the family business.
Though Campbell has spent his whole life building boats, he himself is a landlubber.
“I couldn’t care if I ever got in one,” he joked.