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Canopus

Vessel Number: HV000658
Date: 1912
Dimensions:
Vessel Dimensions: 8.09 m × 7.77 m × 3.08 m × 0.56 m (26.54 ft × 25.49 ft × 10.11 ft × 1.84 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
Significance
CANOPUS is a wooden fishing boat built in Fremantle, WA in 1912. It was used in Mandurah and is now the oldest surviving fishing craft from the region. CANOPUS’ working life has spanned the three great eras of the economic and social history of Mandurah. It was the last cargo carrying boat that took farm produce to metropolitan markets and returned with stores for the townspeople as boats had done from 1830. It took part in fishing and the fish canning industry when cargo carrying became unviable. When fish canning became uneconomic CANOPUS was employed in the tourist trade as part of one of the first tourist oriented businesses in the Peel region. CANOPUS is now held within the Mandurah Community Museum collection.
DescriptionIn 1910 Bob Smart, ordered the CANOPUS from builders in Fremantle. The boat took two years to be delivered as Smart had specified that New Zealand kauri be used for fabricating the hull, one of the strongest and most long lasting timbers used in ship construction. Like the SEAGULL and the FAIRY QUEEN, the CANOPUS was double ended, clinker-built, cutter rigged and fitted with a centreboard.

In 1912 delivery was taken of the boat and it went into service taking produce and canned fish from Mandurah to Fremantle, returning with stores for the town. CANOPUS had its own jetty under the Fremantle traffic bridge; however its life as a cargo carrying vessel was to be short lived. After the First World War the railway line at Pinjarra and the improving quality of roads made sea transport increasingly uneconomic. The final straw was the completion of the new Rockingham-Mandurah road in the early 1920s.

A number of years after CANOPUS was launched, Mr Smart had an engine installed. Capable of being run on petrol and kerosene this auxiliary was used when crossing the Mandurah estuary bar. The engine was a modified Model-T Ford four cylinder and this engine still exists in good condition along with the vessel’s anchor. The propeller, however, was stolen years later when the vessel was on the slipway at the Peninsula Hotel.

Bob Smart soon turned CANOPUS into a charter fishing boat, moving his livelihood to servicing the needs of the growing tourist trade in Mandurah. CANOPUS gained a reputation as a 'Smart boat' and played host to many noted Western Australian identities such as Governor Sir James Mitchell and a number of State Premiers.

Operating from the boatshed at Stingray Point a 6 hour fishing trip cost each passenger 1 Crown and lasted from 6am to 12pm. The Smart family subsisted on what could be made from these voyages, lodgers staying at the family home and fish caught from the boat.

Mr Smart's wife died before him, and his eldest son Campbell left Mandurah to become a schoolteacher. The younger son Harry, with assistance from his father, had set up a hire boat business in the boatshed which the family owned at Stingray Point.

As Mr Smart reached retirement age he looked for someone to take on CANOPUS, and in fact threatened to have it burnt unless someone he trusted agreed to take it on. Harold Blakeley Snr., owner of the Peninsula Hotel where Mr Smart was a regular, agreed. It is said that he paid £100 for Canopus in the mid-1930s. Mr Blakeley kept the CANOPUS operating as Mr Smart had in the charter fishing role with Sam Renfrey, a well-known Mandurah fisherman, as skipper. After Harry Smart's hire boat business collapsed it was bought by Harold Blakeley Snr., Harry was kept on by Mr Blakeley as yard man and he remained in the role for 42 years. Harold Blakeley had now added a valuable tourist business with 13 boats including CANOPUS, available for hire or charter all of which were pioneered by the Smart family.

Eventually the CANOPUS had to be laid up as Mr Renfrey could not obtain a Coxswain's ticket, a newly introduced requirement to carry paying passengers. Mr Blakeley then had CANOPUS hauled up the slips at the boatshed on Stingray Point, where it rested for many years, and after a short stay in the Mandurah Marina it was moved after Mr Blakeley's retirement to his back yard on Mandurah Terrace. Mr. Blakeley felt that he owed it to his old friend and customer Bob Smart to always look after CANOPUS just as he had promised to do in the mid-1930s.

CANOPUS still lays in the heart of Mandurah within a few hundred metres of where it was delivered when new in 1912. It is now part of the Mandurah Community Museum collection of craft from the region and will be stabilised and restored by volunteers.

Bob Smart had emigrated from Aberdeen, Scotland in 1870 and spent ten years as a superintendent in the Bengal Railways before moving to New South Wales in 1880. While there he started a preserving works. In 1892 he moved his with his family to Mandurah.

He established himself in the cannery which had been founded by Charles Broadhurst in present day Smart Street in 1878. His enterprises also extended to a fish curing works in Safety Bay. Unfortunately, with the general decline in fish stocks around the turn of the century and the added pressure of fresh fish being sent to Perth via the railway at Pinjarra, the Smart family had closed their cannery by 1904/05. In 1910 he commissioned CANOPUS, and took to fishing as a new livelihood for his family.

Vessel Details
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:timber planked
Current status:non-operational
Deck layout:open/foredeck
Deck material and construction:timber planked
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:oar
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:tiller
Hull material and construction:clinkerglued lapstrakelapstrake
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:canoe stern/double endedDE
Hull shape:displacement
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:plumb stemvertical stem
Hull shape:round bottom
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:keel hung rudder
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:pivoting centreboardswing board
Motor propulsion:auxiliary motor
Motor propulsion:inboard
Motor propulsion:petrol
Rig type:gaff
Rig type:sloop
Spar material:timber

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