Dirk KneulmanKneulman was born in 1922 in Amsterdam, Holland, where he grew up learning to build wooden boats. He immigrated to Canada in 1950 and shortly after built his first Snipe. Dirk went to Dwyer Boats in Barrington R.I. to learn fiberglass boat construction during a one week course.
Oakville’s Ontario Yachts was founded by Dirk and Maria Kneulman. Although he worked as a boat builder before emigrating from the Netherlands in 1951, Kneulman started a construction company when he first moved to Canada. But by 1961 Dirk was building boats, mostly kayaks and dinghies including Snipes and 5.5 metre boats, and Sitka spruce spars, and sail battens – all made from wood in an old barn.
After only a few years in the business, Ontario Yachts established a reputation for high-quality workmanship and soon Kneulman’s Snipes were sought after by North America’s top one-design racing sailors. Next, Dirk established a world-wide market for his dinghy, 6 Metre and Dragon masts. In 1967, the construction went composite.
As Kneulman’s reputation as a boat builder grew, he began to build Olympic-class boats. In 1968, his penultimate year building Olympic boats, nine of his shop’s 5.5 Metre yachts raced in the Mexico Olympics. Kneulman accompanied his fleet at these Olympics as a shipwright on the shore support team to ensure his boats were properly tuned and repaired. One of these 5.5’s, owned by media magnate Ted Turner, won a world championship in 1972. Kneulman was the Canadian Olympic Sailing Team shipwright in 1972 as well. In 1975, Kneulman began to build Etchells.
During the late ’60s and on through the mid ’80s, Ontario Yachts established a reputation as a builder of quality fiberglass production boats like the Viking 22, 28 and 33, and 33, and the Ontario 28 and 32. During these boom years Kneulman forged a successful partnership with C&C, which acted as the design team for these yachts. Ontario Yachts is now run by Kneulman’s son, Dirk.
Dirk Kneulman - Ontario Yachts