Written by Kim Lunman
posted on August 13, 2013 07:43
Where else could you expect to meet the Vagabond King, Lady Gilbert, Red Devil and BarrTender?
At a golf course on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, of course. Classic wooden boats lined the docks at the Grenadier Island Country Club this month for an annual "Wine & Woodies" event for its members.
The Thousand Islands is famous for its classic wooden boats with many of them featured at Clayton's renowned Antique Boat Museum. The GICC is located on Grenadier Island near Rockport, which opened in 1927. It has long had members from the islands and mainland on both side of the border who love classic wooden boats as much as golfing on the private club's pristine green grounds. The clubhouse features a chart of the Thousand Islands marking members' islands and a piano painted with a Canadian and American flag. Golfing and boating go together on Grenadier.
Grenadier Island is about 10-kilometres long and is dotted by cottages, Thousand Islands National Park land, trails, an old schoolhouse, and a cemetery. Many years ago it was known for its corn farmed here and the old Angler's Inn which attracted fishermen during the 1880s when the region became a vacation destination. It was later demolished after it went out of business. Today its residents get around the island by golf carts.
But classic wooden boats - not golfing - were at the centre of attention at the club's recent event with everything from Chris Crafts, Hackercrafts, Gar Woods, and boats built by Gilberts Marine of Brockville and Andress Boats of Rockport.
A boat driven back and forth to the GICC many times by the late grand lady of the River, Mary Hewitt of Tar Island's Totem Point made an appearance. Hewitt, a long-time member of the club, passed away two years ago. Her 1963 Andress-built Santa Maria is now for sale. Another boat built by the late Ed Andress or Rockport, the 45-foot Tonerta in 1949, was also at the event. The 45-foot Tonerta is owned by Ian and Daphne Angus on Grenadier Island.
Also featured were a 1939 Chris Craft named Patricia Ann owned by John and Patricia Ann of Huckleberry Island and a 1962 Hackercraft named Margot owned by Herbert and Mary Jane Gibson of Rockport.
The historic island boat My Own, a 1926 36-foot Hutchison, was also displayed. Owners Dr. Wallace and Pat Stonehouse of the House of Green Gables returned the 1926 vessel to their 110-year-old estate on Dashwood Island. One of the island's previous owners, U.S. Congressman Joseph Himes, built it for his first wife Eileen.
My Woody, owned by Bill Tomlinson of Rockport, owner of the My Way estate on the Thousand Islands Parkway was part of the floating exhibition. Tomlinson also owns the famous turbine-powered My Way race boat. Other transoms on the mahogany-lined docks - some sporting GICC green and white flags on their bows - included names such as Canada Goose, Spare Parts, Kon Tiki-Too and Uno Mas. Which makes one wonder if there are even more classic wooden boats in the region than islands.
By Kim Lunman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch for Kim Lunman's upcoming story on the classic boats of the Thousand Islands and Clayton's Antique Boat Museum in the September issue of Lakeland Boating Magazine. Lunman is the owner and publisher of Island Life Magazine and an award-winning journalist who has written for BoatUS, Lakeland Boating, the Globe and Mail and Reader's Digest among other publications. Check out www.islandlifemag.ca for additional articles and island information.