Legendary Northwest boat designer William “Bill” Garden has died at the age of 92, the Wooden Boat Foundation in Port Townsend is reporting.
Garden reportedly died April 29 near Sidney, B.C. The prolific and renowned naval architect produced more than 650 designs during his lifetime, including the Mariner 36, the Gulf 40 (Cheoy Lee), Formosa 51 and CT 41, among many others. Over the span of six decades, Garden designed watercraft ranging from commercial fishing vessels to tugs and sailboats.
In 2007, Garden was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from WoodenBoat magazine. According to an account on the magazine’s blog, Garden didn’t like to leave the remote B.C. island where his home and design shop was located, so a delegation took the award to him. The same year, Garden was made a Member of the Order of Canada in recognition of his work as a naval architect and marine engineer.
“By all accounts, Garden was a generous and humble man who freely shared his knowledge and advice whenever asked,” reads a post on Latitude 38 magazine’s website. “We know he’ll be sorely missed by those who knew him.”
Garden was born in Calgary, Alberta on Nov. 18, 1918. After graduating from high school in Seattle, he studied boat building at the Edison Technical School, which later became part of Seattle Central Community College. According to Mystic Seaport, Garden then went to work for Andrew’s Boat Company on Seattle’s Portage Bay and by the age of 24, had turned out more than 50 vessel designs.
After World War II Garden became licensed as a naval architect and set up his own design shop in Washington. He moved to Victoria, B.C. in the late 1960s and bought a nearby private island named Toad’s Landing, where he did his design work from then on.
Thousands of boats worldwide have been built based on Garden’s designs, which became known for both their grace and seaworthiness. His work is featured in maritime museum collections throughout North America.
Do you have story about Bill Garden or one of his boat designs? Please share it in the comments section below.