Real Muskoka The STORY Issue 70 Summer 2009 Aboard this Issue: The 100-Mile Cruise Bala And The Boats Muskoka Boat Builders: Past & Present published quarterly by the Muskoka Steamship & Historical Society We get it. Van Patten design, shaped mahogany planks and Gra venhurst building skills miraculously came together in 1949. Look at her, she’s a lot more than simply a boat. This is our history, our pride. Wha t a stunner. We understand, we’re boaters too. Robertson&Robertson Yacht Insurance Ltd. Boat Insurance Specialists for over 40 years 1-800-661-7211 in Toronto 416 789-7211 www.skippersplan.com Underwritten by Aviva-Elite In This Issue: FeatureS: About Us: Muskoka Steamship & tHe 100-Mile CruiSe: a Muskoka Historical Society: adventure aboard the Sagamo General Manager: John Miller Amy Sharman-Phasey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Operations Manager: Ann Curley Bala & tHe BoatS Sales & Marketing Manager: Christi Gardner Richard Tatley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Comptroller: Molly Rivers Bala’S unique HiStory Volunteer Coordinator: Ruth Nishikawa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Louise Boese MuSkoka Boat BuilDerS: Past & Present Please direct membership emails to: firstname.lastname@example.org Rick Terry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Regarding our cruises, kindly email: ColuMnS: email@example.com PreSiDent’S MeSSaGe Board of Directors: Blair McMurchy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 275 Steamship Bay Road General ManaGer’S rePort Gravenhurst, Ontario PIP IZ9 www.realmuskoka.com John Miller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Charity Registration #13261 7770 MeMBerSHiP MatterS President: Blair McMurchy John Glendinning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Honorary Chairman, Director: tHe eDitor’S Corner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Dr. Gordon C. Shaw Junior StokerS’ PaGe Vice President: Rick Terry Austen McMurchy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Treasurer: Stan Meek Membership Committee WHat’S HaPPeninG tHiS SuMMer? . . . . . . . .4 Chairman, Secretary: 2009 CorPorate MeMBerS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 John Glendinning Additional Directors: FeatureD CorPorate MeMBer . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Paul Dickie, Dunc Hawkins, FeatureD BoarD MeMBer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Murray Hogarth, John Lee, Jim Lewis, Ross Siemms, Hank Smith, PHoenix aWarD Winner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Mary Storey, Murray Walker On the cover: The S.S. Cherokee at Lake Joseph Station; General Manager: John Miller Inset: The S.S. Medora at Bala. Unless otherwise noted, all historical photos appear courtesy the Archives Department at MBHC. Muskoka Steamships Directors: Muskoka Steamship & Historical Society President: Rick McGraw The Real Muskoka Experience Vice President: Blair McMurchy Muskoka Steamships Secretary: Gordon C. Shaw 185 Cherokee Lane Treasurer: Stan Meek Gravenhurst, Ontario PIP IZ9 Director: Murray Walker Phone: 1-705-687-6667 General Manager: John Miller Toll Free: 1-866-687-6667 Fax: 1-705-687-7820 The Real Muskoka Story Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre Advertising: Mary Jean Cline 275 Steamship Bay Road Editorial & Design: Ellen Carnahan Gravenhurst, Ontario PIP IZ9 firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 1-705-687-2115 Submissions are most welcome, but Fax: 1-705-687-9408 may be edited for clarity and brevity. www.realmuskoka.com Mission Statement: The Muskoka Steamship & Historical Society preserves, educates and promotes the traditions of the steamship, boat building and resort era in Muskoka. The Real Muskoka Story Issue 70 Summer 2009 3 What’s Happening this Summer? President’s Message: Let me first say it has been an interesting first year as your President. It has been Now until July 31: one filled with numerous challenges, ranging from interesting weather, interesting Child’s Play: A Century of Toys, economy, interesting gas prices and Transport Canada’s interesting interpretation From 1850–1950: Handmade of "stability." toys, dolls, tools and tinkertoys. As I mentioned in one of my President’s Messages in our Real Muskoka June 23–September 30: Story Newsletter, my esteemed past presidents looked to the future with the Muskoka Boat Builders: Past and preservation of R.M.S. Segwun, Wanda III, the building of the Wenonah II and the Present: A large temporary exhibit creation of the Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre. I, too, look to the future, by at Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre building a strong membership base and preserving the financial well being of July 11: Antique & Classic the Ships and the Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre. To this end I believe we Boat Society (ACBS) Boat Show: need to continue building awareness of our Society and all we have to offer, at Muskoka Wharf through innovative branding, marketing and fundraising. www.acbs.ca With the economic environment the way it is, this is even more important, for we Tues. July 21: 7:00 pm: cannot just sit back and rely on past methods. We need to be more creative and Speaker Series: Maria De Silva and aggressive. We have gotten off to a great start with being featured on CBC’s Rick Andrew Hind will talk about their Mercer Report and on CTV’s Weekend Cross-Country, as well as being on the book Ghost Towns of Muskoka cover of the Muskoka Tourism Map and Muskoka Tourism Guide for 2009. Our new website, www.realmuskoka.com, and our revamped Newsletter are Sat. July 25: both excellent tools for getting our message out. 11:00 am–3:00 pm: We also have a couple of great fundraising opportunities coming up. First we have Ask A Boat Builder: Mike Windsor, the Celebrity Golf Classic hosted by Kris King, of which half of the proceeds boat builder and designer will will be directed to our society. This will be held on July 20 with a cruise the answer questions about evening before. We also have, on August 10, the first annual Mayor/Segwun wooden boats Golf Tournament with all the proceeds coming to us. Please come out and Tues. August 18: 7:00 pm: support our Society by having a great time at these events. On that note I cannot Harry Wilson will tell family overemphasize: that the strength of the Muskoka Steamship and Historical stories about his parents, boat Society is and always will be its members. For you all are the ambassadors of racer Harold Wilson and our mission statement. mechanic Lorna Wilson Blair A. McMurchy, Wed. August 19: 3:30–5:30 pm: Corporate Members Cruise General Manager’s Report: Another exciting summer season is underway. Below are some of the events and Sun. September 20: 2:00 pm: specialty cruises we have planned for 2009: Speaker Series: Richard Tatley will show and explain his • Muskoka Boatbuilders Exhibit: All summer long at the Heritage Centre newly released DVD about • Child’s Play: A century of children’s toys 1850–1950 at the Heritage Centre Cleveland’s House • PirateFest: August 1 — our 2nd annual! Join us as we plunder and pilfer....! September 24–27: • Heritage Boatworks: Our new interactive exhibit located in the old museum ACBS International Annual building opening this summer; more information forthcoming. Meeting and Show: at Muskoka • Marylin Brooks Art Show: 10 days, coming in August to the Heritage Wharf www.acbs.org Centre. Check with our office for details. October 1–December 31: • Nostalgia Cruises: Join us as we return to upper Lake Joseph and Bala Park The Canoe: A Canadian Cultural with guest commentary and spectacular dining, escorted by Muskoka’s classic Icon: An exhibit from the Canadian wooden boats. Canoe Museum at Muskoka Boat • Thursdays in July/August: Rosseau Cocktail Cruises from Clevelands House & Heritage Centre featuring Jack Hutton • J.W. Marriot lunch cruises • Pirates on Rosseau Sun. October 18: 2:00 pm: • 100 Mile Cruise returning to Windermere House on Mondays Speaker Series: Robert Bullen tells • Lunch, Dinner and Millionaire’s Row cruises throughout the season the story of attempting to find • Enquire about our Group Specials and Specialty Cruises planned for the Fall! the gravesites of his Muskoka relatives killed in World War II Thank you for your continued support! Join us this season as we embark on See www.realmuskoka.com another summer of Fun, Romance and History! Our staff and crew await your arrival!! for up to date event information. John Miller, 4 The Real Muskoka Story Issue 70 Summer 2009 Membership Matters: Summer 2009 Hello fellow members! Finally, after such a cool and wet spring, we are all enjoying a warm and sunny summer. On May 22, the Society held its Annual General Meeting at the Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre. There was a good representation of members this year, and we were able to hear about how the Society has done over the past year as well as the plans and expectations for this season. The 2009 Members Day Cruises were held on June 13, and all had a terrific time. Excellent weather was enjoyed by the over 330 members out to the two cruises on the Wenonah II. It was very nice to see so many young people out at the event. In some cases we had 3 and 4 generations of Society members on board. Molly Rivers, the Society’s intrepid Comptroller, and Austen McMurchy were on board asking for donations towards the purchase of a Stokes Basket for the Ships. Thanks to the generosity of the members aboard, they were able to gather over $600, which will pay for the equipment. Great job, Molly and Austen, and thank you to all who donated! Annual General Meeting The Membership Committee would like to thank Terry’s Independent Grocers for their kind contribution towards the refreshments enjoyed on the cruises. In this issue you will find a list of the Society’s Corporate Members for 2009. Through their sponsorships and donations, these organizations have shown that they are committed to the goals of the Society and to the preservation of Muskoka’s heritage for the generations to come. Please try to support them if you can. In this and future issues, we will introduce you to our corporate supporters through a brief profile. We have chosen to begin these profiles with our very first Corporate Member — Scott’s of Muskoka. As always, we value your feedback and we are interested Members Day Cruise in hearing from you. Please feel free to contact us aboard the Wenonah II through the Heritage Centre at 705-687-2115, or via email at email@example.com. Happy Sailing! John Glendinning, Membership Committee Co-Chair Molly Rivers, aboard the Wenonah II on Members Day. Molly and Austen McMurchy successfully collected donations towards a Stokes Basket Top to bottom: for the Ships. Members await boarding A special Thank You to Approaching the Narrows out of Gravenhurst all who donated! Bay [photo courtesy Rob McFarlane] Blair McMurchy and Murray Walker pass the time outside the ticket office The Real Muskoka Story Issue 70 Summer 2009 5 2009’s The Editor’s Corner: Corporate By now many of us are spending our weekends happily ensconced at the cottage — and for once, the weather seems Members: to be cooperating! Along with Summer arrives this latest edition of The Real Muskoka Story to guide your cruising. Please Support Never mind for a moment this issue’s fantastic feature our Corporate articles. Forget the fun I had with the map below — or the 100-Mile Cruise passengers Sponsors four extra pages to play with! We have all kinds of new at Natural Park, Mirror Lake: & Major things to show you, and we’re quite pleased with our latest 1941 findings and creations. We hope you enjoy it all as much as we have! advertisers! We received some wonderful feedback on our Spring issue, and our new feature, the “Mystery Bracebridge Hydraulic Ltd. Photo,” prompted a number of correct responses — our “winner” is mentioned on the Jr. Stokers’ Braecon Northern Ltd Page. We love hearing what you think, including suggestions for improvements! If you have an Canadian Tire Associate idea for a story or wish to contribute an article, please feel free to drop me a line at the editor’s Store Bracebridge desk: firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy! Chamberlain Tim-Br Mart Church & Trought Inc. Computer Muskoka David Barkey Painting Rosseau & Decorating Natural Park, Ditchburn House Antiques Mirror Lake 100-Mile Cruise: Gravenhurst KOA Hair Energy Main Route Hammond Transport Ltd. Lake Joseph Hutchings Marine Products Ltd. Lake Rosseau Jamie Mortimer Construction Port Carling Knapp’s Gravenhurst Furniture Port Sandfield Larry Boese, REMAX Lake Milford Bay Country Realty Inc. Lovegrove Construction N Bracebridge North Restaurant and Catering Bala Northern Building Services Osler Business W E Lake Muskoka Consultants Ltd. Prop Doc Incorporated Remax Lake Country Realty Inc S Robertson & Robertson Gravenhurst Yacht Insurance ltd. Scott’s of Muskoka 2009 nostalgia Cruises: Stevenson Plumbing revisiting a time-Honoured tradition & Electric Our Nostalgia Cruises for the 2009 sailing season include a nod to the 100 Mile Cruise Sublime Graphics of yesteryear. We will depart Gravenhurst and sail all the way through the Locks at Port Terry’s Indpendent Grocer Carling. Passengers will enjoy a stop at luxurious Windermere House Resort for lunch before The Artstract Co. returning to Gravenhurst just in time for dinner. Total Cleaning & We invite anyone with antique and classic boats to trail the ships during these Nostalgia Restoration Cruises. Should you desire to join us for lunch at Windermere House, please give the office Waite Fuels a call and we can certainly arrange that for you! Water’s Edge Landscaping Dates for the 100 Mile Cruise tribute are July 6, 27 and August 17 2009. Watts Printing Wine Not 6 The Real Muskoka Story Issue 70 Summer 2009 The 100-Mile Cruise: a Muskoka adventure aboard the Sagamo Amy Sharman-Phasey The Segwun’s twilight cruise reliably sails past our cottage during the fleeting summer months. The old steamship’s quiet presence and twinkling lights are a joy to behold and a welcome reprieve from the now ubiquitous harangue of noisy motorboats. The Segwun’s allure is in its reminder of a quieter time on our beloved lakes, an era when personal watercraft were powered by paddles or a set of oars. We need not to have lived during that era to glimpse the sense of peace the Segwun leaves in her wake. In the heyday of the Muskoka steamships, from the mid-1800s to the early 1920s, these boats were not the symbols of tranquility that they are today; A cruise brochure from 1931 rather they were a means of transportation to and from lodges or private cottages. In the early 1920s, the main ships on the Muskoka lakes were the Segwun, the Cherokee and the flagship of the fleet, the Sagamo. It was the enterprising commodore of the Sagamo who conceived the idea of a recreational cruise that would carry passengers from Gravenhurst Wharf on Lake Muskoka to Natural Park on Lake Joseph. This day long cruise became known as the 100 Mile Cruise. In truth, the journey was closer to eighty-six miles, but the more romantic ‘100 Mile’ tagline trumped practicality—after all, steamship usage was in decline. The cruise was operational from 1922 to 1958. Although the Wenonah was the first inland lake vessel in Canada, the Sagamo was close behind, and was the main ship of the 100 Mile Cruise — proudly wearing the phrase “100 Mile Cruiser” on her bow. Other ships, including the Cherokee, the Segwun and the Medora provided connections from other towns to meet the Sagamo at various stops along the way. During these cruises the hard-working Sagamo continued her day job of carrying mail, goods and other passengers not all destined for Natural Park. The one-day cruises departed the Gravenhurst wharf at 7:00 a.m. for Beaumaris, where the ship occasionally called at Glen Echo Lodge, then on to Port Carling, through the locks to Lake Rosseau, then through Port Sandfield to Lake Joseph. While aboard the ship, passengers were entertained with live music and three meals, and the ever-important reserved deck chair. The arrival at Natural Park on Lake Joseph (a parcel of land purchased by the steamship company as a point of interest for the cruise) would have provided an opportunity for passengers to walk the trails and enjoy lunch outdoors. The Sagamo left Natural Park at 13:30, retracing her route for arrival at Gravenhurst at 19:30 for direct train connection to Toronto. Over the years, the cruise steadily gained popularity throughout Canada and the United States, eventually becoming the imperative for the operation of the Sagamo. Although the Sagamo perished in a fire in 1969, never having the opportunity to be fully restored, since 1981 visitors, cottagers and local citizens have embraced the Segwun as an iconic attraction with its nod to a quieter era. This summer, the Segwun is slipping into the Sagamo’s watery path and offering passengers a Nostalgia Cruise from Gravenhurst through the locks Top to bottom: at Port Carling and into Lake Rosseau for lunch at Windermere House. It S.S. Cherokee at Lake Rosseau will then return to Gravenhurst in time for dinner. But I want to know: will a R.M.S. Segwun at Port Carling reserved deck chair be included in the package! [note the shutterbugs!] This article was written with assistance from Richard Tatley, in person and his S.S. Sagamo on the Indian River book The Steamboat Era in the Muskokas, Volume II (pages 164 and 165). The Sagamo, circa the 1950s The Real Muskoka Story Issue 70 Summer 2009 7 Bala And The Boats Richard Tatley, Historian, Muskoka Steamship & Historical Society Bala has always been a natural magnet for boating traffic, as surely as the gentle but relentless currents of Lake Muskoka carry its waters to the churning cataract of Bala Falls, from which they begin their uneven flow downwards to Georgian Bay, the Great Lakes, and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean. No one knows when or for how long men have trekked to the site of Bala: they may have done so for over 8,000 years, but almost certainly they must have come by boat. The earliest bands of Indian hunter-gatherers probably came in dugouts. Later, as the climate warmed up and birch trees became commoner, the birchbark canoe was invented. By Champlain’s day, groups of Algonkian-speaking peoples periodically journeyed southwards from Lake Nipissing: no doubt they often camped at Bala. By the 1640s there may have been the occasional visit by French coureurs-de-bois from Fort Ste. Marie, near Midland, since there are reports of early French axe-heads being Top to bottom: discovered around some of the portage-sites along the Moon River, but it is The S.S. Ahmic graces the just as likely that these tools were carried by the Indians themselves. Regatta at Bala, circa 1910 All of the earliest European explorers and surveyors known to have come S.S. Cherokee prepares to pass to Muskoka came by boat: usually canoes, occasionally made of tin. Some, through the open swing bridge including Alexander Shirreff of Fitzroy Harbour, who passed by in 1829, and David Thompson, who mapped the Muskoka Lakes in 1837, both stopped at the site of Bala. And undoubtedly the lumbermen who first began logging Featured on the Moon River, and built a camp near Chebawintagounk Falls during the 1860s, arrived by punt and pointer. Corporate As a settlement, Bala owes its foundation to boats, as it was water-craft that Member: first put the settlement of Bala in tenuous contact with “civilization.” As early . as 1867 the pioneer steamboat Wenonah, which was built by A.P Cockburn Scott’s of at Gravenhurst in 1866, began towing booms of logs to the falls, to be fed downriver to the Cockburn Company sawmill on the lower Musquash River. Muskoka The following year the little wooden sidewheeler also brought in the first Located in the centre of settlers: the Burgess family from Bruce County. For many years the Wenonah downtown Bracebridge on Manitoba Street, and other steamers provided the only dependable link between Bala and Scott’s of Muskoka has been in operation the “front” settlements, and brought in all the commodities sold at Thomas for over 40 years. Jim and Loretta Dwyer Burgess’ store. No roads were built to the Bala region until the 1880s, and took over the store 12 years ago and have even after the Old Bala Road was opened to Gravenhurst the local people been running it ever since. Scott’s is very ignored it and did their transporting by steamboat. Only in the wintertimes well known for their excellent selection of did the “road” (which was little better than a trail) attract much traffic. prints and artwork, in particular those fea- For many years the water-levels of Lake Muskoka were known to fluctuate turing Muskoka, as well as their selection eight or nine feet every season, between the spring runoffs and the late fall. of maps and books on Muskoka — some of This created endless navigating headaches, sometimes rendering various which are not available anywhere else. channels impassable for half the year, and was also a nuisance to settlers Scott’s was the Society’s first Corporate whose lands fronted on the lake. Strangely enough, nothing was done about Member when Corporate Memberships were this problem beyond a little dredging until 1873, but then the authorities introduced. Jim says that they enjoy their consented to build a control-dam at Bala Falls. Unluckily, the dam worked too membership very much and appreciate the well, and soon portions of the lake began to flood in 1875 and 1876. This information and stories about Muskoka and forced the government to spend even more money to dig an extra channel the Ships which they find in the newsletters at Bala to allow surplus waters to flow down the river. and at the Heritage Centre. Although they Until about 1882, Bala was known only as a minor sawmill centre, when cannot attend as often as they would like H.C. Guy and Thomas Currie built the first tourist-hotel, the River View due to their busy schedules with the store, Temperance House. By the turn of the century Bala had five or six resort- they particularly like to go on the Member’s hotels — not bad for a community of about fifty people! Once again, it was Day Cruises. the lake steamers (mainly the Muskoka and the Oriole during the 1890s) that 8 The Real Muskoka Story Issue 70 Summer 2009 made all this possible. They not only brought in all the guests and clientele, they also handled all the baggage and most of the provisions too. In 1897 the Burgess family decided to go into the supply-boat business themselves. This was a way of reaching parties of campers and cottagers by boat, at a time when roads were few, railways non-existent, and very few people could afford a private steam or motor-boat — which made it difficult to go to town and shop! Hence Donald Burgess, a son of Thomas, imported a 68-foot steam-yacht called the Gypsy to peddle groceries and other provisions around the West Arm. The Gypsy served for four seasons, but soon proved too small and cramped for her duties. Even after she was sold, she continued to serve the tourist community, running down the Moon River below the falls. The Burgesses replaced her with a much larger, double-decked vessel built explicitly as a floating food-store. Called the City of Bala, she was launched at Bala in 1901 — although it took a little help from the Navigation Company steamer Islander to drag her into the water! A handsome vessel, with a length of 76 feet, she was then the largest supplyboat on the Muskoka Lakes. Although business was good, she in fact served only for three years, until Donald Burgess decided to pull up stakes and go out West. The City then became a scow-boat for the tannery at Bracebridge, until she rotted out by 1911. In 1906–07, the scene at Bala was radically transformed by the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway from Toronto, which immediately built two stations there. One was the wharfside station, where summertime trains could connect with the Navigation Company’s steamers. We are told that the Islander was on hand to meet the first passenger train at Bala on June 30, 1907. The coming of the railway caused no diminution in the boat-services — quite the contrary! By 1908 the Navigation Company had the Cherokee in service, plying mostly to and from Bala and the resorts and communities around Lake Muskoka, and connecting with the Gravenhurst steamers at Beaumaris and Port Carling. Frequently the small auxiliary steamer Ahmic or the Charlie M. lent a hand, calling at Torrance and other local stops. During the 1920s and afterwards, it was often the Segwun or the Islander that handled the Bala route. Top to bottom: Bala was soon flooded with canoes and motorboats, and numerous regattas were held S.S. Kenozha, docked near there. Some of these small boats were actually built at Bala, at Tait’s Marina, which usually the New Windsor Hotel completed one launch every winter. Cottagers flocked into town to buy ice cream and Rail passengers from the other treats, or to dance to the music of Guy Lombardo, “Duke” Ellington or the Dorsey Cherokee, mid 1920s Brothers at Gerry Dunn’s pavilion: many would come by boat. The passenger-ships A gentleman passenger continued to call as late as 1950, and during her last few seasons the Segwun resumed watches the upcoming meeting the trains from Toronto as in earlier times. It was a sad day for Bala when the swing bridge Canadian National ordered the swingbridge at Bala Park Island welded shut in 1964, The S.S. Islander in dock preventing large excursion vessels from calling any more. But the Segwun still runs occasionally as far as Bala Park Island. Though the bridge no longer swings open in response to her whistle, her plaintive toots are still heard in Bala, and this fall she will sail into the West Arm three times to help the town — from a distance — celebrate its first 125 years. No doubt as long as people live in Muskoka, there will always be plenty of boats at Bala. An unabridged version of this article will soon be up on www.realmuskoka.com. Bala’s Unique Heritage Ruth Nishikawa, President ACO Muskoka — www.arconserv.ca In the area by the Bala Falls there are many cultural heritage resources: The Burgess Church, Bala Bay Inn, Dunn’s Pavilion, Trinity St. Albans Church, Bala United Church, Former Bala Post Office, Bala Hydro Plant, and Purks Place. Two Ontario Heritage plaques; a war memorial, gardens and commemorative trees, docking, portages and paths, memorial benches and viewing spots, as well as interpretive plaques which High water at Bala Falls outline the history of the area. The falls themselves are the main feature of the cultural — yesteryear, and today heritage landscape. As one walks around the area of the falls, one is struck by the many [Permission is granted examples of how this natural beauty has shaped the community. from the photographer] The Real Muskoka Story Issue 70 Summer 2009 9 This Season at the Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre: Muskoka Boat Builders: Past and Present Rick Terry On June 25, the Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre will unveil a new exhibit which tells the story of the Boat Builders of Muskoka: Past and Present. In this exhibit, you will see examples of each of Muskoka’s boat builders as part of our Grace and Speed in-water exhibit. You will also see the phases of boatbuilding, designs, parts, tools, hardware, woods used, bending of ribs, and varnishing. The story of boat building in Muskoka begins in 1868 with the Free Grants and Homestead Act, which gave land to Canadians and Europeans who wanted to start a new life in a new land. The land grants were conditional on building a permanent residence and the clearing of land for farming. Although there are many examples of successful farms in Muskoka, for the most part what the new settlers drew from the hat were rocks and swamp. The lucky ones who were granted lands on water quickly turned their attention to accommodating tourists. They built hotels, and they needed boats. Three of the first families to receive land grants were the Johnstons of Port Carling, Top to bottom: the Ditchburns of Rosseau and the Minetts — after whom the Village of Minett was Welcoming gantry named. Henry Ditchburn and William Johnston, Sr. quickly saw the opportunity to build sailboats and rowboats to serve the new hotels and their guests, and an increasing Boat hardware: past and number of seasonal cottage owners. Ditchburn came from a long line of shipwrights present and served in the Royal Navy. Johnston by contrast was seemingly self-taught. Having Steambox & wood bending started with dugout canoes, he built his first rowboat in the early 1870s. By 1900, the two had built over 300 boats, each of which they rented out from Liveries in Port Carling, Rosseau, Windermere, Port Sandfield, Beaumaris and Gravenhurst. The early 1900s were a spectacular period for boat building in Muskoka and something unique in the world. Tourism was booming, skilled labour was abundant, especially in the winter, and gasoline engines were quickly becoming reliable. Ditchburn’s business was taken over by his nephew Herbert in 1904. Johnston invested his business assets into the Disappearing Propeller Boat Company in 1916, a partnership between his nephew Billy and J.R. Hodgson. Meanwhile, Hubert Minett began building boats at his parent’s hotel, Clevelands House. Each of these young men built significant businesses which exported boats all over the world. The quality of their work and the sophisti- cated and demanding market for their boats attracted the attention of America’s top Naval Architects such as George Crouch, John Hacker, Bert Hawker and Douglas Van Patten, who added further refinement of their products. Soon many more boat builders were setting up to satisfy the demand of wealthy cottage owners. Greavette, Matheson, Duke, SeaBirD, Brown, Barnes and McNeil Norse are some of the best known. Muskoka-built boats also showed up on the international racing scene. Between 1920 and 1927 Ditchburn built a series of “Rainbow” racers for Harry Greening of Hamilton. They competed successfully in London, England and in APBA-sanctioned Gold Cup races in Detroit and Buffalo. The Rainbow IV won the 1924 British International Trophy, better known as the “Harmsworth” in Detroit, only to be disqualified as the design Top to bottom: was “too advanced.” Greavette built the Miss Canada and Little Miss Canada series racers for Harold Wilson of Ingersoll. Miss Canada III and IV, which also raced as Miss How many ways can you Supertest, were very successful, winning awards in Detroit, Lake George and Toronto. move a boat to water? Miss Canada III raced in Washington in 1939, winning the President’s Cup, which was Model of partially built boat presented by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Children [and the curious] Some special parts of the exhibit show the role of women in boating, racing boats built can play with in Muskoka, and the many ways that boats are moved. Don’t miss this exhibit! lifting a boat 10 The Real Muskoka Story Issue 70 Summer 2009 Ahoy, Junior Stokers! Antique classic boats! How cool are they. They come in all shapes and sizes, just like modern boats. Some were designed for speed, like the gentleman racers, other for hauling groceries and people across to their family cottages, while others were designed for nice long lei- surely cruises on the lake. For me the ultimate antique classic boat is the Segwun. So next time you see an antique classic boat on the lake, wave at it! And come into the Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre to see the great A drawing of the R.M.S. Segwun display of in-water antique classic boats. Learn about their history, for sent in by one of our readers they all have a story to tell. Maybe you have a story to tell about your favourite antique classic boat. We’d love to hear it! Your fellow Junior Stoker, Austen B. McMurchy Word Search Puzzle Find the words from the list hidden in the puzzle below: Check out www.wordle.net ! W M B O Y T H O M S E Y S S F Word List: T P A S S E N G E R N Y B O C Mystery Photo: B G H F D G T Y D V F DECK R C M H M C O F G O D D O B D E R A M DRAFT H C R F E Y H F R M S D C H K RESTORATION F N G H Z R U R A H S N T O I BEAM Be the first to email us with the F M W E J E T A G E S A G G U MAST correct identity of this photo, D L S U Q S T G R H G L L A Y PROMENADE and we will publish your W K L R W T G B O G T S I N E KNOTS name in the Fall newsletter. S N E R W O B D G R E I U Y R PURSER Find the photo in this issue! V Y U H D R Y S E A K H U G F N T W F A A H E N S L Q K K D PASSENGER R Q M K S T T R F F K S F G S MEDORA U D E C K I E T U X G C V S Z ISLANDER B R O H S O D R A F T B V E X MAHOGANY H F N Y E N Y S M V N M G E S C W A R T F H E T N X J F X E T Q H E Y N A P U R S E R O N B E A M A D V I O O S J S S D D X I A V J R K Y Y R D F E K L H Y S P J E K Y S S H D T N H G J I E S R F T Y F F U Email your answer to T O email@example.com G M T S K Y K A Y L I V J J T F P R O M E N A D E J I U P S The first reader to correctly D F R W A D X A Z A G J R T I identify last issue’s Mystery Photo was Mr. Jack McIrvine. puzzle by Austen McMurchy Cheers, Jack! The Real Muskoka Story Issue 70 Summer 2009 11 Murray Walker Featured Board Member Murray Walker has long been one of the foremost champions of Muskoka wooden boats. A champion is an informed advocate, a patron, and a protector, and Murray is all of those things for the wooden boats of Muskoka. For well over three decades, he has invested in and assembled a collection that exem- plifies the best work of many Muskoka boatbuilders. Murray believes that the best work of many boatbuilders is more than a beautiful craft — it is art. Blair McMurchy and To ensure that the art of the era of Muskoka’s wooden boats is understood, docu- Murray Walker mented and accessible to all, Murray championed the establishment of the Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre. In recognition of his vision and ongoing support, the Centre’s Boat House shall henceforth be designated: “The Murray Walker Grace & Speed Boat House.” Thank you, Murray! Ron Sclater Phoenix award Winner Eleven years ago, Ron Sclater began working on the Wanda III as a bar- ‘Sharing in your Muskoka Fine Dining Experience.' tender/deckhand — entertaining the passengers with informative 705-687-8618 commentary about the lakes and 530 Muskoka Road North, Gravenhurst, ON surrounding areas. Ron became Captain of Wanda five years later Blair McMurchy with and sailed Wanda to various destin- Ron Sclater ations on the lakes before she was removed her from service for a hull restoration in 2004. Ron also became the “Guest Commentator” during the very popular overnight cruises — delighting passengers with enter- taining stories about days gone by on the Muskoka Lakes. Come around to the Back Door of our Muskoka Road Around the time Ron began captaining Wanda, the Muskoka Boat & location and take home Heritage Centre was in the planning stages of development, and the what has been voted the best Fish with Chips in Society needed a committee to supply the contractor with the correct Muskoka! historical information as well as assist in the interior design. Ron volun- teered for what would prove to be a three-year commitment — many weeks, stretching well beyond the forty-four-hour work week. Despite Ron’s passion for Wanda and his tireless efforts at the Heritage Centre — both through the planning committee and the present day Archive committee — Ron’s lasting legacy to many will be the role he played on Wenonah II Pirate Cruises as Captain Hook. These cruises began five years ago and they have been a wonderful success — mainly 705-687-8907 due to Ron’s ability to entertain the thousands of Pirates of all ages that 530 Muskoka Road North, Gravenhurst, ON have dared to raise the black flag on Sunday mornings. Come around to the Back Door of our Muskoka Road location and take home It is with great pleasure that the Society presents Ron Sclater with the best Fish with Chips in Muskoka. the Award of the Phoenix in appreciation of his outstanding support Haddock, Cod, Halibut towards our organization as volunteer, historian, storyteller, bartender, Sweet Potato and Hand-Cut French Fries deckhand, Captain — and of course: Hook! Starting at $6.99 * take out only 12 The Real Muskoka Story Issue 70 Summer 2009 Interior Painting and Wallpapering DAVID BARKEY Decorating Reliable, Hand Brushed Finishes...Preserving Your Heritage Prompt, Patricia Ross Professional 27 Years Experience 18 Armstrong Street Bracebridge, ON (705) 645-8377 687-0080 P1L 1T1 firstname.lastname@example.org For a free estimate. All work completed on schedule. “Getting There Is Half The Fun!” 450 Ecclestone Drive P.O. Box 441 Bracebridge, ON P1L 1T7 (705) 645 5431 ext 29 www.hammondtransportation.com Business card ad:Layout 1 09/07/09 9:28 AM Page 1 FOR SALE: 1950 Duke 19 ft. Mahogany Smoothskin: 75 hp Grey Marine engine, fully restored in 2007, including new 12V system, rebuilt transmission, new bilge pump. Rebuild records available. Hull and deck varnish in excellent condition. Always stored in boathouse. Surveyed April 2009. Contact John Rooney at: 800.465.1662 705.687.6691 1 Langford Dr. Box 1018, Bracebridge, Ontario P1L 1V2 email@example.com or 705 326 9677. BRACEBRIDGE HYDRAULIC LTD FULL SERVICE HYDRAULIC & MACHINE SHOPS Gem and Dia. Jewellers Inc. CNC & CONVENTIONAL EQUIPMENT CUSTOM MANUFACTURING CUSTOM MACHINE BUILDING Serving Muskoka 12 Years With: PORTABLE WELDING & LINE BORING ❖ High Quality Diamonds REPAIR & MANUFACTURING OF ALL ❖ Canadian Diamonds HYDRAULIC EQUIPMENT & COMPONENTS ❖ 14/18 Karat Gold Jewellery ❖ Custom Design & Repairs TROUBLE SHOOTING FULLY STOCKED HYDRAULIC INVENTORY 135 Muskoka Rd. S. firstname.lastname@example.org Gravenhurst, ON P1P 1X3 Tel: (705) 687-0262 1-10 Monica Ln ....................................... (705) 645-2354 The Real Muskoka Story Issue 70 Summer 2009 13 GRAVENHURST FURNITURE SIMMONS Sleep Centre ComfortStudio Lake Country Realty, Inc., REALTOR® UPHOLSTERY LOFT Independently Owned and Operated BOAT TOPS & INTERIORS CLASSIC & ANTIQUE Larry Boese LAUNCHES Sales Representative ® 23 Balls Drive Bracebridge, ON P1L 1T1 6 MONICA LANE, UNIT 5 (705) 645-5281 Fax: (705) 645-3662 BRACEBRIDGE, ON 24 Hour Paging Res: (705) 646-0413 E-mail: email@example.com 705-646-1565 TRACEY VEITCH Experience Wine Making at its Finest graphic QUALITY We source our wines from the finest wineries in the world SIMPLICITY design First visit to start your wine and a second visit to bottle SELECTION Over 40 varieties for you to choose from services VALUE Exceptional wine at a fraction of the cost of retail wine CONVENIENCE 365 Bethune Drive North, Unit E, Gravenhurst, Ontario YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD WINE MAKING firstname.lastname@example.org n 705.329.3843 ESTABLISHMENT 705-687-6888 www.winenot.com Ellen M Carnahan Cindy Holmes & Randy Tang Handmade by – Dean Rivett Gravenhurst, Ontario Gunnel, Transom, Dispro & Custom Curved Fenders email@example.com 705-687-3804 14 The Real Muskoka Story Issue 70 Summer 2009 Some might say you’re living in the past. We know your greatest concern is for the future. Understanding the insurance needs of Antique and Classic boat owners for 48 years. Founding Member of The Antique and Classic Boat Society, Toronto Chapter 1.800.465.1137 www.purvesredmond.com INTERNATIONAL · COMMERCIAL · INDUSTRIAL · TRANSPORTATION · HIGH VALUE AUTO AND HOME How many different ways are there to move a boat to water? Come see the “Muskoka Boat Builders” Exhibit at the Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre this Summer and find out! GET REAL! Reservations & Information 1-866-687-6667 realmuskoka.com Resort Lunch Cruise: The Rosseau - JW Marriott Resort & Spa Don’t forget! Thursdays until September 3rd - 12pm to 3:30pm (From Port Carling) Muskoka Steamship & Nostalgia Cruises - Aboard the R.M.S. Segwun Historical Society Bala Park - July 20 Members receive 100 Mile Tribute - July 27, August 17 10% off cruises and Upper Lake Joseph - August 3 (From Port Carling) FREE admission to Muskoka Boat & Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre: New Exhibit! Heritage Centre! Muskoka Boat Builders: Past & Present The story of the Muskoka Wooden Boat, the design to the finished product.
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