The Canby Ferry - M.J. Lee II

Your good-natured commute since 1914

Canby Ferry is a car and walk-on ferry that transports people across the Willamette River between Canby and Wilsonville. Every day, the choice is yours: grind out the same old bumper-to-bumper commute, or sit back and relax as you float across the Willamette for a few minutes of peaceful nature.

  • From Wilsonville, the north side, you can get on the ferry from Southwest Mountain Road
  • From Canby, the south side, you'll get on the ferry by taking North Holly Street
  • The ride takes about five minutes to get across. 
  • The ferry does not have a set schedule; ferry conductors travel on an as-needed basis.  

Ferry Hours and Status

 

open

The ferry is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., except on holidays* and when the river level is at 70 feet or higher.

*Holidays include New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Call the Canby Ferry Information Line for status updates at 503-650-3030.

Fares

Motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians$3
Cars and pickups
(Up to 22 feet long)
5
Vehicles with trailers
(Over 22 feet long)
10
Vehicle using entire lane15
Vehicle using entire ferry30
Punch card (20 crossings)
(Save $1 per crossing)
80

All fares are one-way. No debit or credit cards are accepted at the ferry; only cash or checks. Punch cards may be purchased online using a debit or credit card.

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Ferry History, Technical Specifications and Feasibility Study

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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.
1919–1920W.B. Nolen is also paid $7.50 per month as ferryman.
1921The 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.
Jan. 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.
Sept. 1952County Commissioners approve construction of a steel-hulled ferryboat by L.S. Baier of Milwaukie.
Nov. 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.
1960–1978Richard W. Hill serves as ferry operator.
1961The 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.
Dec. 1995Ferry fails Coast Guard safety inspection and County contracts with Art Anderson Associates to replace it.
Feb. 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, 1997Clackamas 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.
Jan.-July 2013Fares 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.
Sept. 17, 2014State, regional and local officials, and the community, celebrate the Canby Ferry's 100th anniversary with speeches, ferry rides, fun facts, music and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque. Descendants of M.J. Lee attend the ceremony.

From information provided by Myra Weston, Canby historian.

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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 75 HP electric gear set Harbormaster 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 first M.J. Lee carried passengers and vehicles for 43 years, from 1953 to 1996.
  • The M.J. Lee II went into service in 1997.
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The Board of County Commissioners received the final report of the Canby Ferry Alternatives Feasibility Study on March 12, 2019. The Board also asked staff to continue to work on reducing ferry costs and increasing revenue and report back in six months.

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Phone:503-557-6391
Fax:503-650-3992
Email:roadconcerns@clackamas.us

Transportation Services Building, 19246 Wacheno Parkway Oregon City, OR 97045

Office Hours:

Monday to Thursday 
7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

After Hours: 
503-655-8211

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