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Muskoka At 30 MPH

November 9, 2021 in Uncategorized


Traveling along Muskoka’s roads at the speed limit or better, is as simple as pushing a pedal for modern cars. The scenery whizzes by without consideration and without much attention.

It wasn’t always so easy. The concept of weekend commuting and the expectation of perfectly paved roads is an experience my parents had yet to enjoy with their first journeys to and around Muskoka.

Some wooden boat owners can relate to the challenges of technologies and speeds of the past, but by now most engine needs have been well established and rectified and we have materials to fix just about any leaky hull. The closest experience to auto travel from pre-1970, would be a Dispro or a Duke Playmate.

A group of mostly Dispro owners, also own vintage automobiles and enjoy experiencing a slower pace on the back roads of Muskoka. The oldest automobile in the group was a 1913 REO, owned by Paul Gockel. He has known the car since childhood. It was owned by his father and clearly a vehicle he treasures nearly as much as a parent would their progeny.

This REO tops out at a shaky 40MPH on a down hill and races to walking speed up steep hills. Nevertheless, traveling in this vintage auto is like peeling back the layers of haze over Muskoka. The scenery has a brand new glow and charm. People wave at you and smile as the car goes by. Quite a different response a sports car or bike would receive.

To drive such a vehicle is an all-consuming experience as well, with clutch, throttle, spark advance and gears to monitor. She starts with a hand crank, but not always on command. She is a vehicle Paul has to listen to, for fuel-air mixture and more. The kind of intimacy developed in a life long friendship.

By Tim Du Vernet

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