Jonathan Wilson founded WoodenBoat Publications in 1974 with the publication of the first issue of WoodenBoat magazine, featuring Silver Heels on the cover. Jon's background with boats included a stint at Dutch Wharf, but not a lick of magazine publishing experience.

The magazine offices were originally located in Brooksville, Maine, at Jon's self-built cabin, and then moved to a somewhat larger house in Brooksville. After a fire at that place the office moved to Brooklin, into a much bigger house, which is now the WoodenBoat School's dining hall and dorm. From that building the business moved about a mile down the road into the  60 acre Parson estate. Aside from the main house, the property included a huge brick horse barn, caretaker's house, and boathouse. All have been updated and continue to serve as the business's base, along with the Store building, a bath house, and several more boat sheds. Click CAMPUS VISITS for more info.

WoodenBoat magazine grew to have a world-wide circulation of over 100,000 readers. And it spawned more businesses under the WoodenBoat umbrella, including the WoodenBoat School, WoodenBoat Books, The WoodenBoat Store (retail store and e-commerce), The WoodenBoat Show, Professional BoatBuilder magazine, Small Boats Magazine, and Mastering Skills. Jon also founded Hope magazine, which published for nine years. An outgrowth of Hope was Jon's non-profit business Just Alternatives, which is a training program for victim-offender mediation. 

At the end of 2021, Jon retired from WoodenBoat selling the company to two staffers (Matt Murphy and Andrew Breece). Jon retains the property, and continues with his Just Alternatives business. Additionally he is finding out just how much work it is being the landlord on a 60 acre estate with lots of buildings, trees, and roads.