Mary and Chris Turner told the Liverpool Echo the commodore of the Runcorn club in Bridgewater handed them an empty ice cream tub and a spoon and told them to get busy.
Frank Turner, who died recently of cancer, was not a member of the club, but his son said he had been planning to join when he became sick. He liked the idea of being at a place dedicated to the narrowboats that used to carry cargo on English canals and now carry recreational boaters.
"My dad was a working man on the canals, one of the last people to take a boat through the top locks," Chris Taylor said. "Now we have nowhere to visit him. I am very upset."