In 1912 motor boating was the coming thing for Prince Edward Island. Unlike the province’s roads where the use of motor vehicles was highly regulated, being allowed only on certain times or days or not at all, the waterways were open for traffic. There was a dramatic increase in the number of motor boats in Charlottetown Harbour. Some were locally built but many of them came from the East end of the province.
L. & N. Paquet (Leander and Nelson) were boat builders in Souris who supplied craft to fishermen and fish packers. They built a number of stock boats from 20 to 25 feet and offered a package of a 22 ft. boat with 2 1/2 horsepower engine for $125.00. They also built larger vessels and in the same year supplied a 50 foot launch with 24 hp motor to the St. Andrew’s sardine fleet. Initially building dories and row boats (including several for the Hillsboro Boating Club) they quickly moved into gasoline boats for the fishing industry. The Paquets built a number of launches for Bruce Stewart including the Imperial II launched in 1910. By 1913 they advertised that they could supply any type of boat from a row-boat to an ocean-going cruiser. They had a successful sideline in pleasure craft as seen by the following excerpt from the motor boat column in the Guardian on 1 April 1912:
L. & N. Paquet, of Souris, who have built a number of boats for parties in Charlottetown, have just issued an illustrated catalogue in which are described the various types of boats which they can put out. They constructed the three Imperials, and the house-boat Doris, all well-known here. They are acknowledged leaders in the manufacturing of fishing and working boats, large number of which they put out each year from their factory at Souris.
They have lately added to their stock models a 22ft. V. bottom, which they construct either for heavy work or for pleasure. In ether case the boat gives comfort and speed, and when the construction is lightened and sufficient power installed the boat will prove to be very speedy. One of these boats is now being built for a Charlottetown customer and will be down here next month, when all interested will have an opportunity of seeing what she will do. There is no mistaking the place the V-bottom is going to occupy in the pleasure class and the Paquets, who really love their work, and turn out beautiful boats, will doubtless have many inquiries as soon as the boats are given a trying out.
It is probable that the author of the glowing report was a young Malcolm Irwin. A month later it was he who was the “Charlottetown customer” who took delivery of the new 22 foot cruiser. Equipped with a five horsepower engine she was expected to reach a speed of ten miles per hour. In June a twenty-foot boat arrived by train from the Paquets for a group of ten young Charlottetown men who had clubbed together for its purchase. The group included Austin Trainor, Ivan Hughes, Frank Steele, Fred Skerry and others. This boat, christened The Orient, also had a five horsepower Bruce Stewart Imperial engine mounted under the forward deck. She was capable of carrying a party of twenty at eight miles per hour.
The boom in motorboats may have been a victim to the outbreak of the Great War and in spite of the Paquet’s skill the Souris business was not a success. In November 1914 the entire plant, equipment and land were offered for sale by the assignee. I have not been able to find a copy of the firm’s 1912 boat catalogue and none of their boats appear to have survived.