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Boating Friends Lost

June 8, 2021 in Uncategorized


As boating events cycle from one season to the next, their starring attractions, the wooden boats, will come out again and again. Cycling through periods of decline and then restoration, they will survive through many generations, unlike their owners. I have had the good fortune to experience some especially memorable boat shows and summer events, and at each event many familiar boats will re-appear. How fortunate we are that their original owners commissioned their creation, some more than 100 years ago.

The seasonal transitions reminded me of how many well-known boating figures are now memories and their legacy survives in the craft they have serviced or to which they have been faithful custodians.

Each time I pass by the remains of the white building below where Edenvale used to be, I picture Hughie Sr and Jr. standing by the entrance to MacLennan and Sons. Hughie Sr. bought what was Port Carling Boat Works in 1925. Their hands touched most of the SeaBirds ever built. Hughie Sr. with a hearing aid amplifier in his front pocket and what looked like a “hog head” hat that train conductor would have worn. Each time we brought our SeaBird in, Sr. would ask if we wanted to sell that boat. I don’t know whatever happened to our 1954 Swan model, but they aren’t the driest of boats, at any speed. My grandparents had an early centre-drive model from the 1930s. I wonder if Hughie Sr. had a hand on it as well?

Hughie was quoted as saying, “the boats may not have carried the prestige names, Ditchburn or Minett-Shields, but they were honest boats, built by dedicated, skilled artisans using first rate materials.” (From The Boat Builders of Muskoka).

By Tim Du Vernet

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Port Carling Boats – Antique & Classic Wooden Boats for Sale