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The Greatest Show in Muskoka

By Tim Du Vernet

Barnum and Bailey proclaimed they had the “greatest show on Earth”, well the ACBS-Toronto put on the greatest show in Muskoka. With a strategic outreach initiative to invite and encourage and spectacular collection of new and antique wooden boats, the dazzle could not be dampened by a morning rain.

Over 100 boats and cars were registered for the 32nd annual event that drew upwards of 6000 visitors. With the help of key sponsors that included Mercedes Benz Canada, Hagerty Insurance, Walker’s Point Marine, Cougar Global Investments and Muskoka Brewery, the show definitely set new standards.

From the feedback of president John Kutcy and the many volunteers stationed at the “ship’s stores” and members area, the feedback was the best yet. It takes a well oiled machine to make it happen and Paul and Rita Adams were the pair at the helm of the biggest event in Gravenhurst’s calendar. Past show chair, Gary Getson offered invaluable assistance in the planning, organization and mediation between very dispersed and diverse groups.

The ACBS-Toronto made a special effort to work with the Town of Gravenhurst to best represent the town, the permanent on-site commercial operations and their character. It was clear that every party felt the day was a success.

The star of the day was the boat called TOLKA. Discovered as a “grey hull” near Cleveland’s House, she was reconstructed by Peter Breen to spectacular form. Powered by an authentic period 150 hp. Sterling Petrol engine, her sound and handling was vintage while her form was like new.

Tolka was designed and originally built by Bell Laboratories in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. She is currently owned by Lee Anderson of Nisswa, Minnesota.

Breen was able to reclaim many of the original parts from the boat in his reconstruction including planking, screws, bolts and hardware that remained with the boat. While reconstructed with new parts in most places, she had been meticulously rebuilt from what was left of the original hull. The last owner and family members of the Lash family were present to share in this historic event.

Tolka won two awards at the show, the Captain’s choice award and the longest trailer haul for coming all the way from Minnesota for the event.

The spectacular day was filled with events for all ages with boat building and cardboard boat races. The Muskoka Sea Flea group does a tremendous job supporting the youth program through their own events and at the show with the help of Derek Crawford and Eric Seepa from the ACBS.
Next year, hold on to your hats as Miss Canada IV will be the show boat. The roar of her Rolls Royce engine is likely to silence the bark of the biggest Muskoka has seen in a very long time.

A new web site has been just built for the celebration of Tolka stop by and have a look