Roue 87 “The Red Hackle”

Red Hackle    after restoration circa 1985

Someone once said, if they wanted a pretty boat they would buy one and put it on their mantel. My pretty boat is a bit too large for a mantel with an LOA of 24’7″ but she does sit proudly on a trailer in my front yard. I see her every single day, store the snow blower next to her under the tarp, snuggle the garbage cans and recyclables closely to her, watch her during a snow storm as the snow banks reach her deck and over the past few years I have become quite attached. Yes, she is for sale, but no, I rarely advertise this fact! I am quite fond of her and each time I revisit her history, I become more attached. She is so very different than Rainbow and we have never had her in the water. At some point, a family member may invest in some sails and give her a try. I just want to be around for that ride! She is a grand old girl and in another 14 years she will be 100 years old!

Built in 1929, the Red Hackle was commissioned by Major John Henry Molson after the death of his parents and at the time of his inheritance of Molson Breweries in Montreal. She was custom designed by William J. Roué as number 87 and built in Shelburne . She enjoyed her days as part of the Molson fleet for 50 years until 1979. Major Molson died in 1977.

Scan0003_0003At this point the Red Hackle’s new owner decided she needed a major facelift. Restoration took place during 1985 at the “Multiplie Shipyard of Pointe-au-Pere” in Rimouski, Quebec.  A bronze identification plaque was installed on her to depict the event. The extensive restoration was unique as the worn and rotted wooden structure was completely replaced where necessary using molded wood with a mahogany epoxy hull and finished with three coats of Aulgrip™.  This process would never be referred to as “glassed over.” Thirty years later, she is still a beautiful work of art. A high maintenance historical wooden sail boat was turned into an everlasting structure becoming a low maintenance fiberglass boat with the feel and weight of an authentic wooden design. There is just enough wood remaining in the bright work, mast and boom that requires seasonal attention to give you that feel of pride in ownership.

Scan0004_0004The Red Hackle has a shallow, full keel made from derived iron and movable ballast under the cockpit floor with a centre board. She has a manual gusher bilge pump, which is skillfully hidden from view in a secret compartment. The ballast is located in polystyrene coated sealed boxes giving a positive buoyancy of 3000 lbs and concealed under the foredeck, cockpit floor and the lazarette. On deck you will find both steel and bronze fittings,  varnished original wooden mast and boom,  5/16 galvanized steel stays, bronze chain plates, turnbuckles, cars, cleats, shackles and boom furling, nylon halyards, Swedish stainless steel turnbuckles and tiller steering. Equipment includes:  1929 vintage original boat hook, boom crutch, anchor, chain and rode, outboard long shaft Nissan 4.5 HP motor, two original floating 4’ long cockpit cushions which are thick enough to serve as low seating. She comes with a custom built tandem trailer and can easily be towed with a ½-ton truck or SUV. A unique feature of this design is that there are stainless steel crutches and stainless steel supports. At high tide she can be beached by bringing up the centre board and securing her upright on the crutches and await the next high tide to sail off again.

Scan0012_0012This Roué 87 has a hull shape, which does very well at sea and remains dry despite a low freeboard. Major Molson often sailed her across the Saint Lawrence River at a distance of 40 nautical miles. She is very well balanced and exceptionally smooth at the helm, very stable under sail and maintains her course, when the tiller is fixed with a simple rope. In a 30 km wind, putting two reefs into the main sail and dropping the jib, allows her to be sailed as a “cat-boat.” She accommodates four adults comfortably. Children are also safe sitting on the floor of the cockpit. The Red Hackle’s stability under sail makes her very predictable in behavior and is easily sailed single handed.

Scan0010_0010With a storage space of eight feet under the foredeck (storing such things as the anchor – cooler- tent – sleeping bags, etc), three feet under the lazarettes, two storage cabinets under the front pass-port and starboard, she lends herself to any kind of activity such as a day sail and camping on a lake, river or ocean. Her shallow draft allows docking as a motor boat. She points similar to a Tanzer 22 and sails rapidly downwind. The red and white cotton sails were replaced in 1985, but were ruined in storage although included with equipment for use as a pattern. Commonly used Roué designed Bluenose class sails will fit this boat. Price is reduced to reflect the lack of sails. The Red Hackle has had three previous owners, the original Molson family, the person who had her restored and the person who brought her back to her original home, Nova Scotia. The Red Hackle name is displayed on the stern in raised bronze letters (currently painted white).  Her name reflects the Molson family connection to the Black Watch. The name in itself is part of her history.


The Red Hackle circa 2013

Rig Type: Sloop
Hull Type: Shallow full keel
LOA: 24’7”
Beam: 7 ‘
Depth: 4’6”
Weight: 4.37 tons
Ballast: 1,200 lbs
Draft:  2’4”
Construction: Wood/FG
Designer: William J. Roué
Built: 1929
Restored: 1985


Library and Archives Canada. Maps, architectural drawings and technical drawings created or collected by the Molson Company [cartographic material, architectural drawing, technical drawing] (R3088-0-4-E):

  • [Architectural drawings and maps from the Molson Archives] [Architectural drawing, technical drawing, cartographic material]
  • Sub-series consists of one atlas of the world; other cartographic material includes maps of Montreal and various North American railway lines as well as a portfolio of cadastral plans of the city of Montreal. Also included are plans of various ships, plans showing the location of Molson Brewery, engineering plans of brewery facilities and architectural plans and drawings of Molson family residences.
  • Design no. 87. – Sail plan. Designed for John Molson, Esq. by W.J. Roué, N.A, Halifax, N.J. n.d.

The Molsons: Their lives and times: 1780-2000 by Karen Molson, Firefly Books Ltd, 2010:


The Story of the Red Hackle.



2 thoughts on “Roue 87 “The Red Hackle””

  1. Hello Verona Lelslie,
    A short time ago, a friend informed me of the existence of your site Roue 87 The Red Hackle. What a nice surprise to hear that my beloved daysailor was in good shape and back in N.S.

    My name is Robert Daignault. I am the person appearing in the photos of the boat with my daughter Valerie in 1985. I was the second owner of the boat and the one that decided to have it restored and directed the adventure with Alain Drapeau, the owner of Multiplie.

    I recently went back on my documents regarding this little masterpiece and discovered that I had kept the article written by Jim Brown in the magazine WoodenBoat no. 60 in 1984 with the title: SAVE IT. It is a detailed 7 page article. It’s after reading this article and sharing it with Alain Drapeau that I decided (after four years of hesitation to restore in a classical way… Too expensive…) to jump in the adventure of using the cold-molded technique (absolutely no fiberglass was used) for a price of 6 000$ at the time.
    I thought you would be interested in placing this article in your references. If so, please send me your postal address because the simplest way and less time consuming method of sending you a copy would be by mail.

    I will be pleased to hear from you and inform you about other details of the restoration if you are interested.

    Robert Daignault

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