Play with Boats - not guns
Kids & Classics Boatshops Museum has a bit of a different take on the pleasures of boatbuilding and antique boating. Like a museum of the experience of antique boating, our museum is wherever we take our boats to go boating!
We also want to infect a few kids with Wooden Boat Disease - kids who need a break in life!
Our volunteers come from all walks of life - some retired from the trades and business, many active engineers, computer gurus, programmers, executives, microbiologists, and artists. They all have in common a love of wooden boats and making a difference with kids who don't perfectly fit the system.
Boats 4 Folks is our entry programme for kids-at-risk and in the initial event four kids build a 12' skiff in two days, then get in it and row it! In almost every case, as they are carrying what you would recognize as a boat to the water, what they’re saying is "I'm not getting in this thing - if we made it it'll sink or come apart". What they bring to our program is "failure" - they are just expressing their life experience and expectations so far. Our goal is to jerk that view around to a new direction and give them a glimpse of a success that is too big to sweep under the "failure rug".
For the summer of 2012 we experimented with some new ideas to keep these kids hooked long term. After they built the skiff, we got them out sailing in a 1960 vintage wooden Lightning sailboat on which our sailing team has just completed a three-year restoration. We have other interesting boats to broaden their boating experience including a 14' Richardson cedarstrip with an 18 HP Johnson or our beloved Dileas, a 1949 Hunter utility. These boats work like magic on kids - remember?
Another aspect of our volunteer programme is the restoration of our fleet of donated antique boats. Now we don't use the term restoration in the same sense that ACBS does - we mean minimum modification from original and in good working order - finishes as good as we can manage without a paint booth. We are constantly pushing our skills envelope by sharing those our members bring with them, reading WoodenBoat, Classicboat, and similar publications (and by phoning Dwight Boyd if we are stuck or just afraid of mucking something up). Mind you, sometimes we just make it up and try it out (ADHD learning).
When the boats are done we use them. Our first choice is to share them with others who have never had the experience of antique boating. We like to go to shows and take folks for a ride - and while we have a captive audience, we have a chat with them about our kids programme, and sometimes they come out and get involved - sometimes they might help in other ways.
Our Gatsby members are supporters who ante up a bit of loot for purchasing materials or covering the expenses of running the programmes and are in turn invited to join us whenever we are taking boats to the water.
Over the past years we have brought back to presentable and good working order, Dileas, our 1947 Hunter, a 1949 Shepherd 17' Utility, Skylark, a 1962 Greavette Sun Flash II, the Richardson cedarstrip, and, of course, Despina, our 1957 Shepherd 27' runabout completed in the fall of 2010. In the shop for the winter of 2012 we worked on skiffs, the 19' Lightning, a 10' cedarstrip tender, a 1962 Shepherd outboard that needed a bottom plus a 1962 Mercury Direct Reversing 70 hp, and a Johnson 5.5 from about '55.
With some assistance from Outer Harbour Marina, we had an affordable home in the water for Despina for the summer of 2012, and this is allowing us to create some Antique Boat Camp Days for cancer kids and other inner-city kids in partnership with Moorelands, Camp Quality, and other similar organizations that share our passion for making a difference. As with our Boats 4 Folks kids, we created a day that included training in some basic boating skills like throwing a line, tying a bowline, cleating a line etc.
Future plans call for a stepping up of the boatshop from a very part-time, all-volunteer operation to a boatbuildi
ng/training programme run by a paid professional boatbuilder. This will be necessary to undertake major restorations like Scrapper II, a 38' "R" Class racing yacht built in 1912 by Casey Baldwin, Bell's partner in hydrodrome and early flight development at Baddeck, NS. We will be undertaking a major fundraising project to make this possible. It will also make boatbuilding programs integrated with the local schools possible. More of this anon.
ACBS has played an unofficial quiet part in this endeavour for years as several of our volunteers are club members including the infamous Harry Sutton - plus Grant Reynolds, Chris Rogers, Scott Caple, and yours truly.
We are at it in the boatshop every Saturday morning plus Tuesday and Thursday evening all year round, and it's always open house at those times!
Find us next to the Beaumont Mill Antiques & Collectibles Market, 586 Main St., Glen Williams, ON L7G 3T6, or call Malcolm Black on 905 873-0141 for more information.