This September I had the pleasure of serving as head judge at the annual ACBS International Show in Gravenhurst, Ontario. Let me start out by saying how much Jan and I enjoy Canada and especially Canadians. They are without a doubt the most friendly, hospitable, and fun folks to be around. Last summer we took a week and cruised the Trent-Severn waterway with twenty or so other classic boats hosted by the Manotick Classic Boat Club…also in Ontario. It was a terrific experience! We are never disappointed during our travels up north.
Anyone new to this hobby may think Chris-Craft, Century, Gar-Wood, Hacker, and a few other common names from the States are the only manufacturers of these classic boats. In my opinion, however, some of the most beautiful boats ever produced came from our good neighbors up north in Canada. Ditchburn, Greavette, Minett, Fay & Bowen, Shepherd, Duke, and other Canadian builders produced what many consider the most beautiful and well-constructed watercraft to ever grace the lakes.
Some Canadian builders like Ditchburn and Minett primarily produced custom ‘one off’ boats built to the personal specifications of a particular client. It’s always interesting to note the personal details the original customer requested for their family boat…and they’re always referred to as ‘family boats’. Many of these boats remain in the same family and boathouse they originally hung in. What a great tradition. I’ve even spoken to some Canadians that consider it sacrilege to remove these boats from its original home lake.
If you enjoy learning about the colorful history of classic boats, do yourself a favor and pick up Wood & Glory or The Boatbuilders of Muskoka. These books are in my collection and I refer to them often. Both contain great information on Canadian builders of the golden era and beautiful photographs. And make a note to attend a show in Canada…you’ll be in for a real treat. I’ve added a section on the site about the Gravenhurst show with some photos. Hope you enjoy them.
PS… After all that talk about Canadian boats, that’s Jan and I in a 1929 Chris-Craft Cadet at the Gravenhurst show.