"Aroline Boat Company"A.B.C
Aroline was the first all alloy, aircraft riveted aluminum boat in Canada, and arguably in the world. Founded by George Narcisse Giguere, born August 5, 1905 in Keewatin, Ontario,Canada, Aroline produced thousands of practical, affordable, durable, runabouts from the 1930's until the company's demise in the early 1990's. The plant was located at 26 Archibald Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Aroline had a loyal following of return customers who had come to realize that quality doesn't necessarily mean expensive, and the company went on to fill orders worldwide. At it's peak in the late 1960's, the factory was employing 30 men and turning out an average of one boat per day, year around. The 1965 price of $695.00 would make you the proud owner of a 16' "Cabinaire", completely rigged and delivered to your home, needing just the power to complete the package. Built using anodized .080 gauge aluminum, sealed with "Plyo-bond" and double riveted, with twice as many ribs and keels as any other manufacturer of the day, Aroline was the boat of choice. Aroline, being the first, really had NO competition to speak of until "Lone Star" boats of Texas and a few others jumped on the bandwagon in the early 1950's. Soon "StarCraft", "Springbok","Lund","Crestliner" and a myriad of others ensured that Aroline's market share would be shrunken to a mere shadow of it's former glory. Nonetheless, Aroline managed fine until, free-trade and shipping tariffs made it all but impossible for a small Canadian boat manufacturer to compete with the massive multinational firms sprouting up all around the continent. Aroline sadly closed it's doors when George Giguere at age 90 was too old to manage the failing business and the end of an era had been reached.
George (1957) at his beloved"Camp" in front of Sireco 1
George spent much of his youth fishing and hunting on "The Lake of The Woods" and returned each summer to his cottage which he called his "The Camp" where he spent countless hours fishing for walleye and in the fall, lake trout, when he wasn't out trying a new hull design,or "tweaking"his Aroline Racer the "Speedaire" with a Mercury KG9 with a "quickie" lower end. He flipped it in a race at Lac Du Bonnet, Manitoba, on July 1, 1952 the day his only daughter was born, and almost drowned, ending his racing days.
The "Lake of the Woods" is a massive lake encompassing two Canadian provinces and the state of Minnesota, boasting 65,000 miles of shoreline and 14,500 islands, and so George built a larger boat to access his "Camp".It was a 25' closed canopy inboard, known as "Sireco",named after Echo Bay, where his "Camp" was located. He experimented with larger boats and in 1967 launched a 42' aluminum boat for his own use.It was named "Sireco 2".
Building Sireco 1 (circa 1949)
George travelled south to the US on business to set up dealers and locate suppliers for his expanding business.He loved the American entreprenural spirit and hated Canadian winters, so in 1970 he became an American citizen and moved to Port Charlotte, Florida, but returned every summer to oversee the business and go to "The Camp". On his travels South, he would stop and go to the Chicago Boat show, and in Florida, The Miami Boat Show, where he would always see a new idea or innovation that he would laugh about to himself, and when questioned about it, his reply would be " I tried that in 1940!" followed by "It'll never work." or occasionally he would praise the idea and immediately go to work to improve on it.
George piloting a late 1940's Aroline Racer, The "Speedaire"
The boat that Aroline was best known for was the "Cabinaire", a 16' flat bottom runabout with a closed canopy that had awning style opening windows on the front. The boat was such a sucess that it won first prize in Milan, Italy at the "International Boat Show" in 1957 for "most innovative new idea".Thousands of these little crafts are still seen gliding across lakes around the globe.
Late 1950's "Cabinaire" The boat that won the hearts of thousands.
George had many "firsts" in the boat business, and not the least of which was the all-alloy aircraft riveted boat. He later introduced Styrofoam floatation to the boat in Canada, and had one of his new 16' "unsinkable" boats brought to a public swimming pool in Winnipeg, where he had three men lower it into the pool and defied them to sink it. The press was there and people laughed at the concept of a metal boat that would float when capsized. It did. Hidden in the seating compartments was the new "Styrofoam" floatation. The boat wouldn't sink, even with three large men trying to push it down. When word of this new "unsinkable" boat hit the streets, his sales doubled almost overnight! Another Canadian first for Aroline.
Sireco II ,At 42 feet is the largest Aroliner ever built and now resides in Creighton, Saskatchewan, Canada
1965 Aroline Models Line-Up
1965 Specifications Tables
Wanna see some more pictures of Aroliners? Why not visit .....
Or For A Few Pictures on Aroline Racing, Go To....
~The Racing Days~
Or For A Few Pictures on Aroline history, Go To....
A 1950's Aroline "Deck Flag" showing Early Logo
Did you know that the original spelling of Aluminum was actually "Aluminium"? The "i" was dropped at some point in North America, but the British (and for that matter most of the rest of the world) still spell it with the extra "i"!!
Some Nautical Links:
Aroliner Fan Club (Thanks Doug & Bar, for "Carrying the Torch"!)
Classic "FeatherCraft" Aluminum boats (I still prefer Aroliners, but all old Aluminium boats are cool...)
Classic Mercury Outboards (My other love)
Vintage Outboards (And Other Makes)
Grubb's Marine ( Classic Mercury Parts )
Antique Outboard Motor Club (Canadian Chapter)
Antique Outboard Motor Club (American Chapter)