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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

Making of the Canby Ferry Plaque video.

Canby Ferry Operating Status

The Canby Ferry is closed due to high water and its reopening status is not known

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 is propelled by a splashboard driven by the river current and held on course by a cable. The first ferryman is Clem Dollar who receives $10 a month from the City of Canby. 
May 1916Canby City Council authorizes $250 for a new, gas-driven ferry.
1917Second ferry is built by Frank E. Dodge, a Canby builder.  The final cost is under budget at $238.  The ferry was 44 feet long and 12 feet wide.
1917 - 1918Edward Kilgallen, who lost an arm in childhood, succeeds Dollar as ferryman and the wages are reduced to $7.50 per month. He is 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 - 1920


W.B. Nolen is also paid $7.50 per month as ferryman.

The third Canby Ferry goes into service, with the six-horsepower engine from the second ferry and a new propeller.  It is 45 feet long and 15 feet wide.

1933Theodore Neep serves as ferryman until 1942. He and his family live in a house on the south landing furnished by the County.
January 1946Heavy rains and a flooded river sweep the ferry from its moorings and pieces go over the Willamette Falls.
1946 - 1953Inactive.  Community members encourage the county to reinstate the ferry.
June 1952Canby Chamber and Lions Club presents the Clackamas County Court with 8,000 signatures seeking restoration of ferry service.
September 1952County Commissioners approve construction of a steel-hulled ferryboat by L.S. Baier of Milwaukie.
November 1952The fourth Canby Ferry, the M.J. Lee, launches at Baier's plant and is christened by Ora Lee Cattley, daughter of Canby's first mayor, Heman A. Lee, and granddaughter of Philander and Anna Green Lee who settled in the Canby area in 1847. The ferry is named for Millard Jerome Lee, first child born (1872) in the 1870-platted town of Canby.
July 3, 1953Ferry service restored with William H. Criteser and Bill Bruck as ferrymen. Chester Weaver named third operator.
1956 - 1986Miller (Ace) Mays serves as ferry operator.
1959 - 1979Victor Hodel serves as ferry operator.

1960 - 1978


Richard W. Hill serves as ferry operator.

The ferry is featured on the cover of Sunset magazine.

1986Free service ends and one-way toll of $1 is established.
1989Ferry renovated and repainted. Coast Guard declares that vessel will not be recertified.
December 1995Ferry fails Coast Guard safety inspection and County contracts with Art Anderson Associates to replace it.
February 1996Ferry closed due to severe flooding on Willamette and remains closed during rebuilding of ferry docks.
June 20, 1997Service is restored with new six-vehicle ferry built at Diversified Marine in Portland. The ferry crew includes Joe Dietrich, John Lettenmaier, Carl Ellison, Jack Siefert, Mike Pyszka and Bret Proffitt.

July 4, 1997

July 1, 2012

January-July 2013

Clackamas County Commissioners and the Canby community celebrate the reopening. The M.J. Lee II is christened by Doris Cattley Martin, descendent of M.J. Lee.

Fares increased to help cover operating costs.

Ferry taken through Willamette Falls Locks to be refitted with a new propulsion system in Portland and returned.  The previously-closed Locks are re-opened under special arrangement to allow the ferry to pass through in January and July.

(from information provided by Myra Weston, Canby historian)

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