Quadrant Marine Institute – Celebrating our instructors: A lifetime of loving boats!

Les Gunderson

May 30, 2022

Les Gunderson, Master Boatbuilder

Les Gunderson is an icon in the Vancouver boatbuilding industry. Like many Quadrant Marine Institute instructors, his family and his early life provided a natural transition into his 55-year career building commercial fish boats.

His grandfather emigrated from Norway with his skills in carpentry, boatbuilding, and fishing. Les’s father was born at Cape Scott (northern Vancouver Island) and spent his summers fishing on their seiner and the winters building boats.

Les spent his whole childhood on the Fraser River. By age 8 he was captain of his own rowboat. He moved on to be a deckhand on his neighbor’s tug boat and spent his teenage summers working at Sather Boatworks in Queensborough, New Westminster. Starting full time in 1955, he eventually he took over the foreman position from his father in 1975 where he remained until 1995.

“We built 120 wooden boats from 32’ to 70’ in my time,” says Les, “and we did everything from the keel up…including the engines and equipment installations. When I started my career the systems were all manual. I got to experience the whole transition to onboard freezer systems, hydraulics, and electronics.”

His favorite memories in the boatyard were the boat launches. “There was such satisfaction finishing the boat and watching it sail away.”

Les taught wood structures and repairs for 14 years before he retired in 2020. He was known by Quadrant MST students as an amazing storyteller. He felt, “[apprentices] should learn the tricks of the trade to make their work easier”, and, not wanting to read from a textbook they could read themselves, “I’d bring all my old tools in and set [the apprentices] up to try to run a thread of cotton.” He retired from teaching for us in 2020/2021 and still lives 5 blocks from the historic shipyard where he spent his career.

Thank you Les, for all your hard work and inspiration to our apprentices!

Read the Quadrant blog 

Related Posts

Vote for Dorothy, BC’s Iconic Sailing Yacht, in the Classic Boat Awards 2024


You are invited to support an historic, recently restored and refitted BC sailboat, Dorothy, by voting for her in a contest, the Classic Boat Awards 2024, run by the UK’s prestigious Classic Boat Magazine. The Maritime Museum of BC (MMBC), owner of this sleek, wooden vessel built in 1897, believes she’s the oldest sailboat in Canada. As she isn’t the only classic yacht in the running, you’re urged to go online and vote for her in the category of Restored Sailing Vessel under 40ft.

Read More

Need to Catch up on News This Week?

Every Tuesday we publish a fresh Digest with informative articles pertaining to the Canadian boating and marine industry. Stay up to date with the latest products, research and industry developments.

Missed an Issue of Boating Industry Canada News Week? If you’re looking for a specific issue, or simply want to catch up on previous issues, check out our Boating Industry Canada News Week Archives.

Not signed up for News Week? Subscribe here.

Even more BALIs at BALI

CATANA GROUP launches its 14th BALI CATAMARANS model, the BALI 5.8, for the brand’s 10th anniversary! Always bigger, always more powerful, always more… BALI!

This time, the new BALI 5.8 is completing the range from the top down.

Read More

Water heater offers dynamic heat source choices

Hubbell-Marine Stainless steel outlet covers
Hubbell-Marine Stainless steel outlet covers

After a long day on the water, having ample supplies of hot water for multiple showers and meal preparation is a welcome luxury. The 1700 Series Marine Water Heater from Raritan Engineering was created specifically for marine use. With a proven long-life design, it’s available with a 115V AC or 240V AC heating element, and the option to include an innovative heat exchanger that uses the vessel’s hot engine coolant.

Read More