SS Edmund Fitzgerald

A historic International 14' dinghy donated to the Marine Museum by John & Nancy Mills

Ariel Soon to Arrive at the Marine Museum!
1 December 2020



A historic International Fourteen Foot Dinghy donated to the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston by John and Nancy Mills. 


The International Fourteen Foot Dinghy pioneered almost every development introduced into small boat sailboat racing over the last one hundred years. From the development of the planning hull to the invention of hiking straps, the boom vang, gybing centerboard, and the trapeze, the 14 has led the way in innovation and design. For many years, the 14 also supplied the majority of the members of the Canadian Olympic sailing team, including Paul Henderson, Paul McLaughlin, Walter Windeyre, Bruce Kirby, Ian Bruce, Terry McLaughlin, Frank McLaughlin, Jay Cross, and many more. So, it was with great pride that the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston has accepted the donation of the Fourteen Foot dinghy, Ariel, which encapsulates that history so well.


Ariel 2Ariel was donated to the Marine Museum by her current and original owners, Dr. John and Nancy Mills, of Marion, MA. John purchased Ariel when he sailed 14’ dinghies out of the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht club in Montreal, and raced her in the 1950 Canadian Dinghy Association regatta at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club. CDA represents the Canadian Championships of the Fourteen Foot Dinghy, and 1950 was only the 3rd time that event had been held. Before John left Montreal in 1960 to relocate to Boston, he and Ariel had won the International Fourteen Foot Dinghy championship at RStLYC four times and the Connecticut Cup twice. John and Nancy now live in the sailing center of Marion, MA, literally across the street from the Beverly Yacht Club on Buzzard’s Bay. (Pictured right: Dr. John Mills beside his beloved Ariel.)


Ariel 2Ariel was designed in 1948 by Charlie Bourke of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club. Bourke was without question Canada’s preeminent small boat designer of the early to mid-20th Century. She was the last of a short production run built by Greavette Boatworks of Gravenhurst, ON, in 1949. Greavette, of course, is now better known as a past builder of classic mahogany Muskoka motor launches. It is evident that they put the same level of quality into Ariel as they did in any of their larger power launches. (Pictured left: John Mills, on the left, with Ariel at the 1950 CDA Regatta at RCYC.)


Ariel represents the best and last of pre-war boat building technology utilizing light weight double layers of cedar and mahogany carvel planking riveted to a myriad of closely spaced transverse ribs.  This technology was already being obsoleted in the late 1940s by hot molded laminated plywood, which used the same high temperature autoclave technology developed for the Mosquito fighter/bomber. That hot molded technology would soon give way to cold molded laminated veneers, and then fiberglass, leading to carbon fiber composite technology used in today’s International Fourteen Foot Dinghies. Ariel represents an important evolutionary step in this whole process, in both design and construction.  As you can see from the photos she still sits on her original trailer sporting her original cotton sails and wooden spars.


Ethan ChanBy Rob Mazza