Collection Storage Facility
Ken Jones, Nahma‘s last owner, donated her to the Collingwood Museum in 1997. Fifteen years later, museum staff recognized that, without a major infusion of funds, they could no longer store Nahma safely nor consider displaying her. Under the terms of Ken Jones’s donation, if the Collingwood Museum could not take proper care of Nahma, she was to be offered to the Canada Science and Technology Museum. In April 2013, after an emotional farewell, the Collingwood Museum transferred Nahma to the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation.
The Collingwood skiff was the single most common type of sail-powered fishing boat built on the Great Lakes. Boats like this were built by the hundreds to serve the large fishery on Lake Huron. They were stable craft that could carry a large load of fish but they were also fast enough to outrun sudden squalls and shallow enough to shelter in coves when necessary. Watts was the pre-eminent builder of these craft and his company continued to build them to order even after the great age of sail-powered fishing boats on the Great Lakes had passed. Nahma is Canada’s last surviving example of an ancient class of boats known as the shallop.
In the mid-1850s, Irish immigrant William Watts started making boats to serve the growing commercial fisheries of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. Watts & Sons boats soon became known for their fine lines, speed, and ability to weather storms. Originally know as Collingwood fish boats, regional boat builders made hundreds of these vessels from the 1850s until the decline of the fishery in the early twentieth century. Watts & Sons built Nahma in 1923 as a recreational sailboat for Sir Edmund Walker, first president of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Known by this time as a Collingwood skiff, this boat is nonetheless true to the original fish boat design and, as such, is the only surviving example of this important type of historic working boat.