Return of the LIMESTONE

By: Susan W. Smith

Volume 16, Issue 1, January 2021

I’m not quite sure where to start ...
  • With the boat:  LIMESTONE?
  • With the company:  The Limestone Boat Company?
  • With the designer:  Mark Ellis of Mark Ellis Design LLC?
  • Or maybe with the CEO:  Scott Hanson?

Yes, the CEO is the place to start, since Scott Hanson spent much of his youth in the Thousand Islands.

CEO: Scott Hanson

Scott is the son of Jane and Rob Hanson, whom many will remember from their years on Hemlock, Hay, and Stave Islands. We have windsurfers to thank for Scott's love of the water. Scott started and ran the Thousand Islands Windsurfing School in Gananoque for three years off the dock at the Thousand Islands Playhouse and Brennan Marine.

We have Cindy Hayhurst, Scott's wife, to thank for getting him into the boat-building business. First, Cindy went back to school to be a teacher; then she insisted that Scott take his turn and apply to The Landing School in Kennebunk, Maine, where Scott earned his honors degree in Maritime Design, Engineering, and Boatbuilding.

During summer break from the Landing School, the late Bill Danforth at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, NY, persuaded Scott to spend a summer in a working exhibit, building the small boat Scott and his classmate Bob Fuller had designed at the Landing School. Using traditional boat-building tools, Scott and Bob spent their days talking to visitors; learning firsthand that there was a genuine love of the past and that small wooden boat designs could be timeless.  He also learned that even though we love "old wooden boats", it is more often durability and reliability that is easier to sell, so combining the two became a goal.

The Smoke Lake Pointer designed by Scott Hanson and Bob Fuller (of TX) designed while they were at the Landing School in Maine. The boat was built as a working exhibit at Clayton Boat Museum in the Stone Building, the museum's workshop. [Photo courtesy Scott Hanson, The Limestone Company]

The following years found Scott and his family back in Toronto, Ontario, in a marketing and sales career. In 2007, Scott met George Rossiter, whose small boats were becoming popular. He and his wife Cindy bought Rossiter and took it from a seasonal, part time rowboat builder with three employees to a sought after brand distributed throughout North America with 48 full time employees, building five powerboat models and rowboats. This allowed Scott to form strong relationships with boat dealers throughout New England, the Southern US, Canada, and the Great Lakes region.

Designer: Mark Ellis

This is where the designer, Mark Ellis, comes in. Mark is also well known in the region – first having grown up in Watertown, NY, and then marrying into the Axeman Island family.

If you don't know Mark personally, it’s likely that you will recognize his creations. Just look at the list of boats on Mark Ellis’s Wikipedia page; you’ll find 16 sailboats such as the Aurora 40, designed in 1976, followed by the Niagara 35, Nonsuch 26, 36, 22, 33, 40, 234, & 400, the last one designed in 1995. Also, Ellis's production powerboat designs, which include the Limestone 17, 20, 22, 24 and 26, as well as the Pilot 19 and 24, Legacy, Abaco, and Bluestar lines. A remarkable career that is far from over.

The Company: The Limestone Boat Company

Now, skip ahead a few years to 2019. Scott Hanson learns that the Medeiros family, the owners of Medeiros Boat Works, in Oakville, Ontario, would consider selling the Limestone molds. The Medeiros family built and brokered the Ellis-designed Limestones, many of which ply the waters in the Thousand Islands. It is important to note that Mark Ellis is not only a boat designer, he also has a business administration degree from Boston University, and Mark Ellis Design LLC has maintained ownership of his designs. So Scott called Mark Ellis. Over coffee at the New York Yacht Club, the new Limestone Boat Company was formed whereby Scott Hanson and his partners and family member, Telfer Hanson, Taylor Hanson, Elliot Kocken penned an agreement to acquire the Limestone molds from Medeiros family and license the global manufacturing rights, Intellectual Property, trade marks, etc. for Limestone, from Mark Ellis Design LLC.

All of this leads up to the fall of 2020 when TI Life received a Press Release:

Subject: Limestone Hits the News - Front Page in US Trades & More; “Good afternoon Limestone Stakeholders and Interested Parties, today is an exciting day for The Limestone Boat Company as we are the Lead Article in "Soundings Trade Only" online edition, as well, we were picked up by other leading Marine Trades about the return of the Limestone…” See Boating Industry

Soon we knew the whole story.  LIMESTONES are back in business with manufacturing moved to Tennessee, where there is a large skilled labor force and the wide-open North American market. You will notice that Limestones now come with outboard power which has proven to "enhance accessibility, usability, performance, safety and maintenance characteristics as experienced by Limestone's commercial and recreational customers in Canada and the US for over a decade."

Right now, the new company is already ramping up to meet Thousand Islanders attending the 2021 Virtual Toronto Boat Show this month. Scott Hanson and his team at The Limestone Boat Company will be featuring the upgraded Limestone models ranging from 17’-29'. New model Limestones will now come exclusively with outboard power, new arrangement, upgraded electronics, and many more exciting features that align with today's boaters' wants and needs.

L22 with Merc 250 Verado on Puget Sound. [Photo by Rob Straight Photography

Also, as soon as the ice goes out, be on the lookout for runabouts, cuddies, centre and dual consoles in classic day boats, and those rigged for fishing. In the meantime, be sure to check out Hucks Marine & Resort in Rockport, ON, serving both Canadian and US Islanders for years.

By Susan W. Smith, Editor, TI Life,

Posted in: Volume 16, Issue 1, January 2021, People, sport

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