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The Canby Ferry - M.J. Lee II

Hours, fares and other interesting facts about the historic Canby Ferry that crosses the Willamette River between Canby and Wilsonville.


Canby Ferry Information Line: 503-650-3030

Canby Ferry Operating Status 

As of Sunday, March 16, 2014, the Canby Ferry is OPEN.

Map Directions


Sunday through Saturday, 6:45 AM to 9:15 PM

Closed New Years Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Closed when river level is 70.0 feet or higher.*

*Note: the height of the river is determined by information on a County gauge that is read by County ferry operators and sent to the National Weather Service (NWS).  NWS compiles the data and makes it available on their website.

Fares (one way)

Cars and Pickups
(Up to 22 feet long)
Motorcycles, Bicycles, Pedestrians $2
Vehicles with trailers
(Over 22 feet long)
Vehicle using entire lane
Vehicle using entire ferry
Punch card (20 crossings)
(Save $1.50 per crossing)

The County conducted a survey of Ferry riders and others in February 2012. Click here for a summary of the results.

Another Willamette River Ferry:  Wheatland Ferry in Marion County

About the M.J. Lee II

The M/V MJ Lee II is a steel-hulled, double-ended, passenger/car ferry.  The principal characteristics of the vessel are as follows:

Length overall:84 feet (including ramps)
Length at waterline:53 feet, 2 inches
Beam overall:36 feet
Depth of hull (molded):4 feet, 9 inches
Draft:3.11 feet (design waterline, shell bottom, approx.)
Displacement:90.5 long tons (design waterline)
Gross tonnage:54 GRT
Propulsion:Two electric-hydraulic 75 HP Thrustmaster Z-drives
Service speed:6.4 mph
Passenger capacity:43 (including crew)
Vehicle capacity:6 autos or 25 tons
Transportation Wt:160,000 lbs (80 short tons)
The Canby Ferry - M.J. Lee IThe first M.J. Lee carried passengers and vehicles for 43 years, from 1953 to 1996.
M.J. Lee IIThe M.J. Lee II went into service in 1997.

Historical Notes

July 1914Ferry purchased in Newberg by Canby Mayor W.H. Bair and by Harry B. Evans, representing the Canby Business Men's Club. It was propelled by a splashboard driven by the river current and held on course by a cable. The first ferryman was Clem Dollar who received $10 a month from the City of Canby to run the ferry. 
May 1916Authorized $250 for new, gas-driven ferry.
1917Second ferry built by Frank E. Dodge, Canby builder.
1917 - 1918Edward Kilgallen, who lost an arm in childhood, succeeded Dollar as ferryman and the annual wages were reduced to $7.50 per month. He was found dead in the boathouse at the ferry slip in 1932. He had figured his trips across the river at 1,261, carrying 1,942 passengers.
1919 - 1920W.B. Nolen was paid a similar sum as ferryman.
1933Theodore Neep served as ferryman on the Dodge-built craft until 1942. He and his family lived in a house on the south landing furnished by the County.
January 1946Ferry was swept from moorings and pieces went over Willamette Falls.
1946 - 1953Inactive.
June 1952Canby Chamber and Lions Club presented the Clackamas County Court with 8,000 signatures seeking restoration of ferry service.
September 1952County Commissioners approved construction of a steel-hulled ferryboat by L.S. Baier of Milwaukie.
November 1952Ferry was launched at Baier's plant and christened by Ora Lee Cattley, daughter of Canby's first mayor, Herman A. Lee, and granddaughter of Philander and Anna Green Lee who settled in the Canby area in 1847. The ferry was named for Millard Jerome Lee, first child born (1872) in the 1870-platted town of Canby.
July 3, 1953Ferry service was restored with William H. Criteser and Bill Bruck as ferrymen. Chester Weaver was named third operator.
1956 - 1986Miller (Ace) Mays served as ferry operator.
1959 - 1979Victor Hodel served as ferry operator.
1960 - 1978Richard W. Hill served as ferry operator.
1986Free service ended and one-way toll of $1 was established.
1989Ferry was renovated and repainted. Coast Guard declares that vessel would not be recertified.
December 1995Ferry failed Coast Guard safety inspection and County contracted with Art Anderson Associates to replace it.
February 1996Ferry closed due to severe flooding on Willamette and remained closed during rebuilding of ferry docks.
June 20, 1997Service was restored with new six-passenger ferry. Ferry crew included Joe Dietrich, John Lettenmaier, Carl Ellison, Jack Siefert, Mike Pyszka and Bret Proffitt.
July 4, 1997Clackamas County Commissioners and the Canby community celebrated the reopening. The M.J. Lee II was christened by Doris Cattley Martin, descendent of M.J. Lee.

(from information provided by Myra Weston, Canby historian)

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