Today we have some great breaking news from the nice folks at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, New York to announce the return of former World Champion “Miss Canada III” to Gravenhurst, Ontario this summer, which will coincide with the big “100 Years of Racing” event hosted by the Toronto Chapter ACBS in July. The 33rd Annual Antique Boat Show in Gravenhurst continues to gain momentum as vintage race boats from around the country sign up for the big event, and Woody Boater will be in Gravenhurst this year to cover the action.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MISS CANADA III SET TO RETURN TO HER BIRTHPLACE
Iconic raceboat to be loaned for 2013
CLAYTON, New York (April 5, 2013) – The Antique Boat Museum, North America’s premier freshwater nautical museum based in Clayton, New York, has announced today its intentions to loan Miss Canada III, a former World Champion raceboat, to the Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre located in Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada.
Miss Canada III will be the centerpiece of the Centre’s “Race Boat Glory, Muskoka Legends Live On,” this summer’s leading commemorative exhibit.
Designed by Douglas van Patten and built in 1938 by Greavette Boatworks, Miss Canada III will be placed on special loan from the Antique Boat Museum (ABM) for the summer of 2013. Described by Motor Boating Magazine in the 1938 Detroit Gold Cup Race as being “beautifully handled and the most perfect running boat”, Miss Canada III was widely regarded to be in an elite class of hydroplanes.
“This is really a special exhibit for the Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre and we are grateful to the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, NY for making it available to us”, noted Rick Terry, President of the Muskoka Steamship & Historical Society. “Miss Canada III was built right here in Gravenhurst by local craftsmen. She won many racing awards all over North America and will certainly be the highlight of our Race Boat Glory exhibit this summer.”
Miss Canada III has been on display alongside iconic raceboats such as Dixie II and Chrysler Queen as part of the “Quest for Speed” exhibit in the William J. Morgan building on the Clayton campus of the ABM. After spending decades in obscurity following the end of her racing career, Miss Canada III was restored by racer Bill Morgan at his shop on Lake George, NY. He later donated the boat to the ABM in 1991, along with a foundational collection of other raceboats and the vision for the raceboat exhibit in the building that now bears his name.
“We are so pleased to be able to send Miss Canada III to Gravenhurst,” commented Emmett V. Smith, curator of the Antique Boat Museum. “Being the boat that brought a major trophy to Canada in 1939, she holds an important place in Canadian racing history. She has been a cornerstone of our raceboat exhibits here in Clayton since she was donated in 1991 when she was donated by restorer Bill Morgan. But she came from Gravenhurst, and it is important that she be displayed there as well.”
“The growth of the Muskoka Steamship and Historical Society and the excitement around the restoration of Miss Canada IV provides the perfect venue for this important boat to visit her birthplace, where the story of Harold and Lorna Wilson can be appreciated like nowhere else.”
In 1939, Miss Canada III was declared the 7 Litre Class World Champion as she won the President’s Cup, which was presented to drivers Harold and Lorna Wilson in the Oval Office. In 1947, Miss Canada III set the 7 Litre Class World Speed Record at 119 mph. Then in 1948 using a new Rolls Royce Merlin engine, she would go on to win Detroit’s Silver Cup Regatta.
Miss Canada III will return to Canada where it will be united with another Canadian racing masterpiece, Miss Canada IV, which will be the feature boat at this year’s Antique & Classic Boat Show, July 4 to 7 at Muskoka Wharf. Miss Canada IV was built in the late 1940’s and she would excel to speeds of over 200 mph.
These two historic “Miss Canada” champions proudly represented the country in races throughout North America. It will be a rare and special opportunity to view these grand ladies together this summer at Muskoka Wharf.
Details on the departure of Miss Canada III from Clayton have yet to be finalized.
Located on the St. Lawrence River in the 1000 Islands, the Antique Boat Museum features a collection of over 300 antique and classic boats among thousands of recreational boating artifacts. Beginning May 10, the campus comes alive with speedboat rides, boat shows, and educational programs for all ages, special events and more. For more information please visit the Museum’s website at ABM.org.
Contact: Michael J. Folsom, Director of Marketing and Communications
315.686.4104 x250 or [email protected]
Thanks Michael – We are excited to break the news today that, thanks to the Antique Boat Museum, Miss Canada III will be on hand at the Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre in Gravenhurst to celebrate the 33rd Annual Antique & Classic Boat Show & “100 Years of Racing” at the Muskoka Warf in July.
Fred Farley – ABRA Unlimited Historian noted: The MISS CANADA boats of Ernie and Harold Wilson were very successful for many years. The father-and-son team from Ingersoll, Ontario, challenged the U.S. hydroplane establishment between 1936 and 1950 and scored some significant victories.
Father Ernie was President of Greavette Boats, Ltd., which built the family’s race boats, and the Ingersoll Machine and Tool Company, which constructed the gear boxes for the various boats.
Son Harold was the driver for the MISS CANADA team throughout its entire history.
The Wilsons were active in the pre-World War II Gold Cup Class with MISS CANADA II and MISS CANADA III, both of which used a V-12 Miller engine.
After the war, the Gold Cup Class dropped the 732 cubic inch piston displacement limitation and changed over to the Unlimited Class. In 1947, Ernie and Harold installed a Rolls-Royce Merlin in MISS CANADA III and used a Rolls-Royce Griffon in MISS CANADA IV, starting in 1949. This was at a time when the V-12 Allison was the engine of choice in the Unlimiteds. – Fred Farley / Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum.
Our friend Harry Wilson (Harold Wilson’s son) shared some great vintage photos of Miss Canada III with us today, both from the early years of when she was powered by a Miller V-12 and later when she was fitted with a more modern Rolls-Royce Merlin V-12 race engine.
Texx – Attached find some pictures of Miss Canada III from her Miller V-12 days (1938-1946).
As you can see from a couple of photos, Lorna was no shrinking violet, being willing to clamber about those slippery whaleback decks under speed to attend to that cantankerous engine on any number of occasions.
The Wilson team had 10 years to perfect Miss Canada III, but none of their problems were hull-related. Dad described her as “Always a perfect lady… As fast as lightning and handled just like a canoe…” She was the team’s favourite boat, but only when that wonderful, beautiful, balky Miller was replaced with the Rolls-Royce Merlin did she become reliably fast.
The 1939 President’s Cup Regatta at Washington Harbor in DC was one of Miss Canada III’s many shining moments, as she went on to win that weekend. Below is a photo of the original race course layout that year. (click on the photo to enlarge)
Miss Canada III dominating the Presidents Cup race.
In the 1939 Presidents Cup presentation photo, Lorna Wilson is standing behind FDR with Charlie Volker at her right, and Harold Wilson directly behind the Cup.
Below – This screen capture is from the 1938 Gold Cup Race in Detroit, with Miss Canada III leading Count Theo Rossi’s Alagi. Rossi invited the Wilsons to take Miss Canada III across to Italy to race in 1939, but the rumblings of WW II prevented that from happening.
Here are some later vintage photos of Team Wilson and Miss Canada III after she was repowered with a more modern Rolls-Royce Merlin V-12… Lots of motor fitted into a tight area with remarkable results.
The later version of Miss Canada III with her Merlin power during the 1948 Silver Cup race. Later that same year Team Wilson began work on the new Miss Canada IV at Greavette Boatworks in Gravenhurst, Ontario.
When the Wilsons retired from racing in 1950, Miss Canada III was sold along with Miss Canada IV to Col Gordon & Jim Thompson, the guiding lights of London Ontario’s “Miss Supertest” team. They renamed IV Miss Supertest, but as far as I know did nothing with III. – Harry Wilson
With the recent release of the movie Harold & Lorna – World Water Speed Champions, the full restoration of Miss Canada IV, reuniting Miss Canada III and IV and the upcoming “100 Years of Racing” celebrations in July – you have to stop and remember Harold & Lorna and the Wilson family for the huge contribution they made to boat racing back in the day.
And that contribution continues even today with Harry Wilson’s direct involvement in the Harold & Lorna movie, the massive Miss Canada IV restoration project with Jamie Smith and Tom Adams, and his work with the Toronto Chapter ACBS.
Thanks to Michael J. Folsom from the Antique Boat Museum for sharing this news with us today, and to Harry Wilson for taking time out of his busy schedule to share these great images of Miss Canada III with us today.
We also have a “farm fresh” update on the Miss Canada IV race boat restoration from Harry which is nearing completion, stay tuned for that story on the weekend… Only 3 months until the historic relaunch in Gravenhurst.
For more information on the 33rd Annual Antique & Classic Boat Show & “100 Years of Racing” celebration at the Muskoka Warf in July, presented by the Toronto Chapter ACBS you can Click Here to go to their great website. For more information on the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, New York you can Click Here.