How it Began

1870

The Swan Boat story dates back to the 1870's when Robert Paget, whose descendants continue to operate the business, was granted a boat for hire license by the City of Boston.

Rowing a small boat in the Public Garden lagoon was a favorite summer pastime for city residents during the day and evening.

1878

Robert Paget lived only one year after the first Swan Boats were launched. He died in 1878 at the age of 42 and his wife Julia, a young widow with four children, assumed full management of the new enterprise.

From 1878 through the early 1900’s, Julia persevered to keep the family business alive. Because she was a woman, she was required for many years to gather signatures from local business owners in the Back Bay to provide testimony to her ability to run her business.

1952

John and Ella’s son Paul Paget and his wife Marilyn began their tenure in the 1950’s and maintained at the helm of the operation for over 50 years.

Two new Swan Boats were constructed under Paul’s direction in the 1950’s and 1990’s.

2001

Swan Boats celebrate 125th anniversary with live music, free rides for children and a historical photo gallery.

2008

Paul Paget drives a Swan Boat at age 86

Today

The fourth generation of the Paget family continues to preserve the tradition that has grown to become a symbol of City of Boston. Paul and Marilyn’s daughter Lyn Paget and her cousin Phil Paget maintain the charm and integrity of a vision that became a reality for a young boat builder and his wife many years ago.

1877

In 1877, Robert and others introduced a new kind of boat to the waters of the lagoon. With the popularity of the bicycle expanding, he developed a catamaran, which housed a paddle wheel arrangement that was foot-propelled. To cover the captain, Robert suggested a swan.

The idea came to him from his familiarity with the opera Lohengrin. The opera is based on a medieval German story in which Lohengrin, a knight of the Grail crosses a river in a boat drawn by a swan to defend the innocence of his heroine, Princess Elsa.

From the late 1800’s until the mid 1940’s, the Swan Boats and the row boats operated together in the Public Garden.

1914

In 1914, Julia's youngest son, John carried on the tradition for the Paget family. With increasing popularity of the Swan Boats, John started work on larger vessels with five benches on each boat.

The current fleet consists of six boats, the oldest of which was built under John in 1910. John and his wife Ella raised six children, all of whom spent many summers working on the boats.

1977

Swan Boats celebrate 100th anniversary.

2002

First ever Swan Boat crew reunion hosted over 160 employees from the 1950’s through 2002.

2011

Designated Boston landmark. Click here

1870

The Swan Boat story dates back to the 1870's when Robert Paget, whose descendants continue to operate the business, was granted a boat for hire license by the City of Boston.

Rowing a small boat in the Public Garden lagoon was a favorite summer pastime for city residents during the day and evening.

1877

In 1877, Robert and others introduced a new kind of boat to the waters of the lagoon. With the popularity of the bicycle expanding, he developed a catamaran, which housed a paddle wheel arrangement that was foot-propelled. To cover the captain, Robert suggested a swan.

The idea came to him from his familiarity with the opera Lohengrin. The opera is based on a medieval German story in which Lohengrin, a knight of the Grail crosses a river in a boat drawn by a swan to defend the innocence of his heroine, Princess Elsa.

From the late 1800’s until the mid 1940’s, the Swan Boats and the row boats operated together in the Public Garden.

1878

Robert Paget lived only one year after the first Swan Boats were launched. He died in 1878 at the age of 42 and his wife Julia, a young widow with four children, assumed full management of the new enterprise.

From 1878 through the early 1900’s, Julia persevered to keep the family business alive. Because she was a woman, she was required for many years to gather signatures from local business owners in the Back Bay to provide testimony to her ability to run her business.

1914

In 1914, Julia's youngest son, John carried on the tradition for the Paget family. With increasing popularity of the Swan Boats, John started work on larger vessels with five benches on each boat.

The current fleet consists of six boats, the oldest of which was built under John in 1910. John and his wife Ella raised six children, all of whom spent many summers working on the boats.

1952

John and Ella’s son Paul Paget and his wife Marilyn began their tenure in the 1950’s and maintained at the helm of the operation for over 50 years.

Two new Swan Boats were constructed under Paul’s direction in the 1950’s and 1990’s.

1977

Swan Boats celebrate 100th anniversary.

2001

Swan Boats celebrate 125th anniversary with live music, free rides for children and a historical photo gallery.

2002

First ever Swan Boat crew reunion hosted over 160 employees from the 1950’s through 2002.

2008

Paul Paget drives a Swan Boat at age 86

2011

Designated Boston landmark.