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Muskoka Antique & Classic Boating 2013
Magazines | Lifestyle 2013-06-26 16:29:27
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    & MUSKOKA antique classic BOATING 2013 Making waves Race boats return Sharing Greavette’s history • Differentiating Muskoka’s classics • Restoring Rambler

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    Muskoka Antique & Classic Boating 2013 CONTENTS 6 MUSKOKA RACE BOATS THE NEED FOR SPEED By Tim Du Vernet The lakes of Muskoka were a prime breeding ground for fast boats. Many race boats were built and many racers trained on these lakes. 10 THE BOATS OF MUSKOKA RECOGNIZING CLASSICS By Tim Du Vernet There were about five famous boat builders in Muskoka. Each company had its own design, unique style and even trim details. A few tips can help one tell the classics apart. 16 RAMBLER: RESTORING AN ELEGANT & ICONIC YACHT By Tim Du Vernet At 72 feet in length, the century-old Rambler is a special ship on Muskoka’s waters. She is undergoing extensive renovations and repairs. 6 16 20 TOM GREAVETTE: THE DARING ENTREPRENEUR By Tim Du Vernet Starting a new boatbuilding business in the midst of the depression was both brave and crazy. Greavette boats remain one of Muskoka’s most popular classic boats. 24 MISS CANADA IV –HITS THE WATER By Tim Du Vernet Muskoka’s famous race boat Miss Canada IV is running on Muskoka waters again. A dedicated team has brought the race boat back to its glory days. 26 SEA FLEAS - SMALL AND SPEEDY BOATS RETURN TO MUSKOKA WATERS By Tim Du Vernet Sea fleas were popular in the 1950s but they are making a resurgence in Muskoka. These fun, fast and lightweight boats are popular with drivers of all ages. 28 28 NEW CHAPTER FOR A DUKE LEGACY By Tim Du Vernet The historic Duke’s building is under new ownership. Like in the past, it is a site of boatbuilding and boat repairs. COVER PHOTO: TIM DU VERNET Rainbow IX was a feared competitor on the boat racing circuits. Muskoka Antique & Classic Boating 2013 3

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    Over 25 Years Experience Fully Insured - W.S.I.B. Insured DARRYL & MARCY DENNIS - OWNERS RESIDENTIAL • COMMERCIAL • INDUSTRIAL Fibreglass Shingles, Cedar Shingles & Shakes, Metal Roofing, Enviroshake, Inspire Roofing • TPO • Sheet Metal Single Ply Rubber Membrane • Built Up Flat Roofing Barge for rental www.advancedbarging.com Call For Your Free Estimate 705-646-1801 1-877-646-1801 www.advancedroofingmuskoka.com Launch your DREAM BOAT now. Call me today for more information on our competitive rates for your summer home and recreational vehicles! Les Bell, Agent Bracebridge, ON P1L 2C1 Bus: 705-646-9995 www.lesbell.ca & Donald Smith Publisher – Print & Digital MUSKOKA antique classic BOATING Sandy Lockhart Editor – Print & Digital Matt Driscoll Assistant Editor Chris Occhiuzzi Journalist Corey Wilkinson Staff Photographer Marc Bonitatibus Production Manager Addie Collins Matthew Walker Design Department Donna Ansley Shannon Donnelly Martha Gillan Laurie Johle Connie Zator Advertising Sales Angy Gliddon Ken Northey Susan Smith Reader Sales and Service Tim Du Vernet, Nat Caron Contributors Muskoka Antique & Classic Boating is published by Cottage Country Communications, publisher of Muskoka Magazine, a division of: P061043CN State Farm, Aurora, Ontario. 06/06 Now Available Muskoka Stone for your kitchen Kitchen Countertops Bathroom Vanities & Fireplaces Les & Renata Partyka | (705) 645-3380 | 1295 Highway 118 W, Bracebridge, ON stoneway.inc@gmail.com Copyright© 2013, Sun Media Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material published in Muskoka Antique & Classic Boating is strictly prohibited without the written permission of the publisher. The publisher assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. Printed in Canada. How to contact us: Mail: P.O. Box 180 Bracebridge, ON P1L 1T6 Street Address: 12- 440 Ecclestone Drive, Bracebridge Phone: (705) 646-1314 Fax: (705) 645-6424 E-mail: mm.info@sunmedia.ca Website: www.muskokamagazine.com 4 Muskoka Antique & Classic Boating 2013

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    JUDGES CONTRACTING LTD. Wayne Judges Jack Judges CARING FOR MUSKOKA FOR OVER 30 YEARS judges@muskoka.com 705-812-3066 DESIGN • CONSTRUCTION • RESTORATION

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    With a 12-cylinder Liberty engine powering her 36-foot, V-type hull designed by George Crouch, Clarie II is said to reach speeds of 60 m.p.h.

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    Muskoka race boats The need for speed Several replicas of the winning hydroplane, Little Miss Canada have been built. The originals were built by Greavette Boats. The endless quest to go faster than other boats was a strong motivator for many decades of wooden boating. Annual races were a seasonal treat in Gravenhurst, Foots Bay, the Muskoka Lakes Golf and Country Club and even the Indian River in Port Carling. The earliest race boats were displacement hulls, meaning they depended on hull length and horsepower to gain speed. That is why displacement race boats, up until the 1920s, were well over 30 feet long. All that length could result in compromised turning. Photos of the early events show great family launches squaring off with small sports runabouts. The lakes of Muskoka were a prime breeding ground for fast boats. The lakes are big enough to enjoy at speed and yet are more protected than big lakes like Ontario or Huron. Many of the locally built boats competed at major events such as at the CNE, and in the ARTICLE AND PHOTOGRAHS BY TIM DU VERNET U.S. Chas Wheaton, well-known in that racing circuit, took Shadow II, his Minett-Sheilds Ventnor boat all the way to races in Europe. The engine, an Italian BPM with over 700 hp, is at the heart of the recreated Rainbow. Boats ranging from 18 feet to nearly 40 feet were raced. Displacement hulls were surpassed by stepped hull design variations and planing hulls. At the extreme end, hydroplanes pushed the very limits of speed and danger. Up until the risks and insurance killed the amateur end of the sport, it was still possible to race tiny sea fleas in competition on seasonal circuits. A 1916 Muskoka Lakes Association year book reports that “the cruiser class and the putt-putts will this year be run under the bang-and-go-back rules.” There was even a special class for steam boats. Harry Greening is the earliest local challenger to the biggest prizes of racing. In the 1920s, when technology and experimentation in designs was quickly changing the sport, Greening was known as one of the greatest innovators. His Rainbow series brought fame to Ditchburn, their builder. A few survive in private hands and enjoy a more serene existence today. Rainbow, the first in the series, was recreated in a half-hull model by Clark Wooden Boats, using old photographs. It took at least two Muskoka Antique & Classic Boating 2013 7

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    Rainbow X, known as Flying Ebony is a smaller boat but the original had a triple stepped hull to give her more speed than a flat hull. Blue B is a Greavette Flash sports runabout designed in the mid 1930s. There were several similar boats built to compete with the Minett-Shields 18-foot boats. years to recreate the “finest race boat ever built”, as claimed in the contemporary press. A little over 30 feet long, she is powered by a 750 BPM engine and easily handles anything Muskoka can dish up at speeds over 40 m.p.h. The original Rainbow 1 won the Fisher-Allison Trophy in 1920. Greening did his testing on Lake Rosseau and created nine boats. A few cottagers still remember those days. Some of Muskoka’s famous racers, still on the lakes today include Rainbow IX, a Packard powered Chris-Craft, Shadow, B-IV, Whippet, Jolly Roger and Curlew. The smaller sports runabouts included the 18-foot and 21-foot Minett-Shields such as Fancy Lady, Shadow and MAB and the 18 foot Greavette Flash boats such as Circles and Blue B. Through the experimentation of hull designs, Ditchburn found success in building stepped hulls with their Viking design. Harry Greening experimented with stepped hull designs. According to Terry Przybyszewski, who worked on the Flying Ebony back in the 1980s, this Greening boat had three steps originally, but she was converted to a “clipper” hull. All the gloves came off with the invention of the hydroplane. In the 1930s Minett-Shields, the Canadian associate of Ventnor Boat Works, built hydroplane race boats such as Alzed and Shadow II. Adolph 8 Muskoka Antique & Classic Boating 2013

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    Gentleman's racers like Falcon are popular vintage speed boats (above). The recreated Rainbow has custom Ditchburn deck hardware (below). E. Apel designed the Ventnor hydroplanes. Their sales literature states, “Simply honest facts to bring to your attention that Ventnor Craft are the fastest boats that money can buy and if you want to enjoy the thrill of being Out in Front, a Ventnor Craft is the boat for you to buy.” When powered by a 225 hp engine their speeds approached 100 m.p.h. Chas Wheaton raced his Shadow II in a 1937 President’s Cup 225 Hydro event and came second. Harold and Lorna Wilson repeatedly made history in their Little Miss Canada series. Boat racing in Muskoka lives on, but in a much more restrained form. No longer are there seasonal races around the Muskoka Lakes but Gull Lake in Gravenhurst, is a popular venue for boat races. Hall of Famer Norm Woods, who has been behind the wheel of countless race boats explains, “there is a strong history of boat racing in Muskoka . . . Lake of Bays, Bala Bay, Gravenhurst, of inboard and outboards. There is certainly a place for boat racing in Muskoka.” He described today’s boats racing on Gull Lake as drag boats designed for acceleration. Gull Lake was also an ideal venue for the Sea Flea Fest last year. Nothing gets the adrenaline rushing like the roar of a powerful engine and race boats are all about power to drive the speed. These great boats were powered by equally great engines. Many were custom built or adapted for the hull. Miss Canada IV will be powered by a 3000 h.p. Rolls Royce engine. The engines from these magnificent boats also included air craft Liberty engines, Packard, Hispano Suiza, a super charged Corvette and Italian BPM among others. They all have a unique sound and usually require specialized care to maintain. The sounds and sights of vintage and current race boat excitement will be centre stage at Muskoka Wharf in 2013 but lucky Muskokans can occasionally catch sight of one on a calm day on Muskoka Lake. They may not be racing competitors, but Muskoka’s historic race boats still occasionally go for a run and show their speed on Muskoka’s lakes. Muskoka Antique & Classic Boating 2013 9

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    THE BOATS OF MUSKOKA: Recognizing classics ARTICLE AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY TIM DU VERNET When you grow up with wooden boats of Muskoka, they are like old friends, whose identity and unique characteristics are quickly recognized. For first time viewers, one plank may look much the same as another, but there is a key list of features that can be used to distinguish one marque from another and even to recognize a particular boat. The first thing to recognize is that there are only about five main builders to try to remember and just like automobiles of any period, the stylistic trends kept the boats from being too dissimilar in appearance through the different eras. They are Duke, Ditchburn, Minett (and Minett-Shields), Greavette and Duke. First let’s break the categories in to time periods and then look more closely at some of the stylistic trends and the specific details that separated the different builders. It is also useful to remember that design trends were also determined by advances in technology. Boats of the turn of the century were generally cabin-style launches powered by either steam or small gasoline engines. The larger boats of this period often resembled sailboats with fan-tail sterns. Very large rudders were necessary to give adequate steerage. The vertical side glass windows slide down between the hull and the interior finished cabin similar to those on ferries. The window shifts inward and then it slides into the slot. Boats of this nature that came to Muskoka were transported by rail. The width of the rail car and the narrowest passage restricted the width regardless of length. This is one reason why boats like Wanda III are so narrow for their length. She was built by Polson Iron Works in Toronto and is 94 feet long and only 12 feet wide. The other main class of boats at this time were rowboats and canoes. The main builder of rowboats near the turn of the century was Ditchburn and perhaps Matheson. Within a few years, a clear 10 Muskoka Antique & Classic Boating 2013

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