Boat ride business gets started in Medina on Erie Canal

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 July 2023 at 8:12 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Brian Hellner, captain of the North Star Cruises, is out on a 20-foot-long pontoon boat on Thursday afternoon. Hellner started the new business about two weeks ago. He leases dock space from the village in the Canal Basin.

Hellner is a licensed charter captain the past 12 years and an avid boater the past 50 years. He also is a former vice president of the Buffalo Maritime Center.

Hellner sees an opportunity to grow tourism in the village through the canal cruises.

He lives in Newfane but has been to Medina frequently to see his son, Rollin, who lives in Medina and is a real estate developer.

Village officials and Assemblyman Steve Hawley joined Hellner and his family for a ribbon-cutting celebration on Thursday.

Pictured from left on boat include Village Trustee Jess Marciano, Trustee Tim Elliott, Brian Hellner, his son Rollin Hellner, County Legislator Skip Draper, Assemblyman Hawley, Village Trustee Marguerite Sherman, and Trustee Diana Baker.

Brian Hellner and his wife Janet are pictured next to their boat in the Canal Basin on the Erie Canal.

They offer rides on the boat from Thursday through Sunday beginning at 5 p.m. The boat holds up to six passengers who are charged $25 each for an hour-long ride on the canal.

The trip goes from the basin to the Culvert in Ridgeway and then back to the basin. Hellner shares historical snippets about Medina.

He said the trip shows historical architecture, wildlife and lush farm fields, as well as just offering a relaxing ride.

He is open to giving rides off his set hours of operation. For more information contact North Star Cruises at (716) 514-9378.