Sudbury·Morning North

Almost 90 years of boat-building in Powassan: The story of Giesler Boats

Gerry Giesler says his grandfather started Giesler Boats in the 1920s. He says during his free time built himself a boat for fishing, but when he took it to Lake Nipissing American tourists bought it off him. The business snowballed from there.
Gerry Giesler is the owner of Giesler Boats, an almost 90 year old business his grandfather started. He still uses the same boat molds as the elder Giesler. (Markus Schwabe/ CBC)

Gerry Giesler tells the story of how his grandfather started Giesler Boats back in the 1920s. The elder Giesler was a blacksmith, who had some free time so he built himself a boat for fishing.

The story continued when his grandfather took that boat to Lake Nipissing to launch it and a group of American tourists offered to buy the boat from him.

Giesler told CBC Sudbury's Morning North his grandfather built another one and the same thing happened again.

Since his grandfather was situated on Main Street in Powassan, Ont., many tourists were passing by on their way to Quintland, the home of the Dionne Quintuplets. Giesler said the boat-building business snowballed from there.

Gerry Giesler, who is the current owner, said popularity peaked in the 1950s when the staff at Giesler Boats was building almost 600 of the vessels every year.

In 2016 Geisler Boats built made 50.

The business still uses the exact same boat mould — referred to as the Powassan model — that Giesler's grandfather used in the 1920s.
Former staff of Giesler Boats including four Giesler brothers. (Supplied by Gerry Giesler )

Geisler said they mostly do repairs to boats in the winter, but the rest of the year they're busy making wooden, cedar strip vessels, adding that few other companies make boats this way anymore.

"People like the wood boat mainly for the feel and the ride," he said. 

"None of the other boats ride the same as a cedar strip in the water. They're lighter than all the other boats being built, including most of the aluminum boats," Geisler continued.

People also like the nostalgia aspect of a wooden boat, he said.

"I get a lot of people coming in saying I had one [Giesler Boat] when I was a kid."

With files from Markus Schwabe.

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