P.E.I. man asking thieves to return handcrafted boat built by his father

Gus in the rowboat

After discovering his rowboat was stolen, a P.E.I. man is putting his faith in the power of social media.

Gus Hillstrom told CBC News that a total of four boats were taken from his barn in Hope River, but he’s only concerned about the rowboat, because it was made by his father.

“They didn’t steal something that can be replaced,” he said. “My father Bruce no longer has his workshop and will not be building me another.”

According to Hillstrom it took his father more than 500 hours to build the boat, and he hoped to pass the labour of love onto his daughter one day.

Photo by Gus Hillstrom

In hopes of reaching the person who stole it, and helping them understand how special the boat is, Hillstrom took to Facebook. On Friday, he created a post that told the story behind the boat, and attached a few pictures.

“I don’t want to make it difficult for anybody, I just want to get my boat back,” Hillstrom told CBC, and he makes that very clear in his post.

“To the people who stole it. Here are some options,” he wrote. “1. Bring it back [to] where you got it. Let’s just say you ‘borrowed it’ to see how well it rows—hope you enjoyed it. I forgive you and we can be friends.”

The other options include leaving the boat somewhere safe where Hillstrom can pick it up or, if they’ve already sold it, giving the money they made to charity.

Photo by Gus Hillstrom

So far, the post has been shared more than 100,000 times. It’s also received more than 1,000 comments from people in nearly every part of the country, from the coast of Newfoundland to Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. There are even some who’ve shared it beyond Canada’s borders—just in case.

“Shared in Argentina, because you never know how far a good boat might travel!” one commenter wrote.

Hillstrom just hopes the activity continues until he finds his boat. In the meantime, the RCMP will continue to investigate.