In 1904, Peter Thompson, along with his brother Christ, built a canoe in the barn of their family's farm two miles north of Peshtigo, Wisconsin. The next year they sold over 100 boats, mostly through catalog sales. Within a few short years, all six Thompson brothers were in the boat building business, and in 1912 the company incorporated and built a facility within the city limits of Peshtigo.
From those modest beginnings, Thompson Boats became one of the largest manufacturers of pleasure boats in the country. By 1924, business was so brisk, they opened a second plant in Cortland, New York, to keep up with the public's demand for their boats. The company built canoes, skiffs, sailboats, various boats for the military during World War II, duck boats, a variety of fishing boats, racing boats, and small cruisers. Their signature boat was the Lapstrake lake runabout of the 1950's and 60's. Their graceful bow lines, combined with the boats ruggedness, and safety, made it a favorite for a variety of water sports, fishing, or just cruising the shore.
Peter Thompson remained President until his death in 1946. He was a hands on, self taught engineer. More often than not if a visitor came to visit him, they would find him with smock around his waist usually solving one problem or another or supervising the construction of their hand built boats.
The company divided into three separate firms in 1958; Thompson of Peshtigo, Wisconsin, Thompson of Cortland, New York, and Cruisers Inc of Oconto, Wisconsin. All three firms were sold, and the subsequent owners concentrated on Fiberglass production. It is believed the last wood Thompson was built in 1970.
The Thompson Dockside is twofold. First, we focus on the boats the company made, and offer insights, stories, and restoration tips on the various models the firm offered. Second, we try to bring some historical perspectives on the boats and times in which they were made.
The Thompson Dockside is published four times a year. Our newsletter and Web Site are dedicated to the preservation of Thompson Boats, and their affiliated companies. In each issue we offer information on the company's history as well as practical information about their boats. There is also a section titled "The Boathouse" where people sell, buy and offer services related to Thompson boats.
Send all inquiries and articles to:
10061 Riverside Drive PMB 143,
Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Jeffry Weicher Productions
Special thanks to:
Charles Wilson for the inspiration
Andreas Rhude for keeping history in check