Fleet Canada History
Posted to Forum on old site by "Mac Boat"
It seems that from all the great input that there is a use for a dedicated Canadian Fleet Feather Craft thread so here it is.
The following is copied form a very informative submission from Canadian Rocket. I hope you don't mind me pulling this over to here as it makes for a good introduction to the topic.
"Just checked out the website for Fleet Canada - a great site but limited info on history. www.fleet.ca. They are now 100% about aviation sub-assemblies. They have a PDF on the site about their history and they mention a post-war period where they diversified. No specific mention of Feather Craft. Here is a copy of the info in the PDF.
I may try to contact them and see if they are willing to dig-up some more history from their archives.
Fleet Canada History
Laying the Foundation
The founding of Fleet on March 23, 1930 by Reuben Fleet was marked by the construction of a modest 7,500 square foot plant. Within the first decade, Fleet had already established an international reputation for excellence and had produced over 300 aircraft for customers within and outside Canada. Fleet had already begun to attract the finest engineers and craftsman and the facilities had increased tenfold to over 70,000 square feet.
The Outbreak of War (1939 1945)
Fleet is very proud of its contribution to the Canadian war effort. From its very outbreak in 1939, Fleet focused all of its efforts in the design and production of various training aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force as well as the overhaul and refurbishment of British and Canadian fighter planes. Production reached a feverish pitch in the early 1940s when Fleet as
pumping out over 160 aircraft each month; the highest production of any Canadian aircraft manufacturer at that time.
Post War Production
Always adaptable, Fleet retooled its operation at the end of the War and began manufacturing the Fleet Canuck, a 2 place high wing monoplane; worldwide demand pushed production to 4 aircraft per day. Fleets skill for on-demand designs and production to specification was already widely known, which soon found the company branching out into a diversity of commercial products including trailers, twin coach buses, ships furniture and even refrigerators.
Expansion and Diversification
Fleets reputation was built on the aerospace industry and it was not long before production returned exclusively to that arena. The next decade saw Fleet constructing rear fuselages, wing spars, wing panels, trailing edges and centre wing box assemblies. It was also during this period that helicopter parts became a component of the Fleet operation; a division that has remained a key feature of Fleets modern framework.
Seventy Five Years of Experience
During more than seven decades of continuous operation at its Fort Erie plant, Fleet earned a solid reputation within the aerospace industry for quality, on time, and cost effective products. Today, Fleet Canadas current customers include Boeing, Bombardier (De Havilland) and Viking Aircraft. We credit our success to the fact that we have never lost sight of our most important asset: our people."
It has been a long time coming but this is the letter I received from a former Fleet employee about the history of Fleet production in Canada.
Your enquiry about Fleet Feathercraft boats was given to me by Jade Scott of the Fort Erie Museum. I am a retiree from Fleet having worked there from 1951 to 1989. There is a group of us that volunteer at the museum one afternoon a week.
I have owned a Feathercraft Ranger since 1957. Although I never had anything to do with building of these boats I worked there during this time. I believe that Fleet entered into an arrangement with the Feathercraft co. in the U.S. A. to build and market these boats in Canada. I think there were three types of boats built at this time. The one was a small (12 ft) aluminum boat (The car Topper). Also a slight larger boat I called the "Fisher". The largest was the "Ranger". I think there were three models of the "Ranger" built.
The Ranger models all had the same hull but were offered with a solid center deck, a walk thru center deck or with no center deck. I believe they were available with plain aluminum exterior or with color anodized finish. They were very well built, Fleet being an aircraft company they were treated with more care than other boat builders, thus the long life of the boats.
These boats were built in 1956-1957. When Fleet stopped production the finished boats, parts and tools were sold to another company. I believe it was someone in the Niagara area. I don't think that the production lasted very long. During the time that Fleet built these boats I believe that they had an arrangement with dealers across Canada but I doubt if any of these same people are still in business.
When Fleet stopped production they offered the boats to the employees at a considerable discount. That's the time that I bought the Ranger. I have the model with plain aluminum and no center deck. This made the boat roomier for a fishing boat.
I used this boat on Lake Erie and various northern lakes for more than 40 years. About three years ago we took it to my daughters in Sioux Lookout Ontario where they still use it regularly. The enclosed picture was taken in front of their place in Sioux Lookout.
As to the number of boats built at Fleet, I'm not sure. I believe that the car topper was the one that had the highest numbers, possibly several thousand. I think the Ranger production was in the hundreds.
I don't know much about the history of the Feathercraft boats after the Fleet years. It has been a long time and most of the people that were involved are long gone.
I hope this will help answer some of your questions"