Classic Boating On The Historic Rideau Canal – Presented By The Manotick Classic Boat Club


Rideau Canal Image Courtesy of the City of Ottawa

The historic Rideau Canal near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is enjoyed by thousands of people year round. During the winter the Rideau Canal is used for skating and many other winter activities, and during the summer it’s a popular area for classic boating.

What sets the Rideau Canal apart from other lakes and river systems is its rich history. The oldest continuously operated canal in North America, the locks work today much as they did when first opened in 1832.

Below is Ron and Wilma Jelley’s unrestored 1956 Peterborough Comet with what is believed to be the original 1955 Evinrude Big Twin 25 electric start. Wilma, who bought the boat in 2000, is shown here enjoying a Manotick Classic Boat Club Cruise Night run on the Rideau River with her guests.

Image and Text Courtesy of Manotick Classic Boat Club - Dave Tilley

In January 1976 the Manotick Classic Boat Club officially came into existence, and became the first Canadian chapter of the newly formed Antique & Classic Boat Society (ACBS) around the same time.  The Manotick Classic Boat Club which currently has over 200 members, has a very well designed web site where you can learn more about the history of the chapter, profiles of their members and boats, and events – you can click here to go directly to their web site.

The 36th Annual Ottawa (Ontario) International Antique & Classic Boat Show hosted by the Manotick Classic Boat Club, was held on Saturday, August 13th at the Rideau Canal – Long Island Lock Station which is located just a few minutes south of Ottawa, in Manotick, Ontario.

The Manotick Classic Boat Club showcased wood and early fibreglass boats from the early 1900s to the 1970s, including cabin cruisers, launches, runabouts, speed-boats, canoes and skiffs and was a judged show. There were approximately 50 antique & classic boats entered for the Manotick show this year. Fellow Woody Boater and long time Manotick Classic Boat Club member Tom Keyes sent us this great report from the boat show.

“Raysea” is a 1936 17’8″ Ditchburn Runabout powered by a 1949 Ford 135HP Flathead V-8. Ray and Judy Saunders from Manotick, Ontario own this rare beauty.

James Potter, one of the founding chairman of the Manotick Classic Boat Club and first President nominated by the club in 1976, aboard his 1965 25′ Lyman Sleeper “Traveler”…  I guess it’s safe to say that James Potter is a committed club member.

The Long Island Lock Station in Manotick has a wonderful park like setting, we even had a period soldier who performed musket demonstrations throughout the day which was a fun experience.

Another cool and unusual boat, here’s a few shots of “M’Lora” a 1949 24′ Grew Admiral powered by a 140 HP Buchanan straight six.

“M’Lora” is owned by David & Dinah Scholfield from Manotick, Ontario.

The 1991 P88 Cracker box (below) belongs to me, it has a V8 Ford Flathead 60 direct drive. We just purchased it a month ago and my son Brad Keyes has been hard at it helping me work on it.  Hopefully we will get all the bugs worked out soon.

“Aurora” is a very cool Canadian built 1947 19′ Duke Utility owned by Richard Macleod.

Greavette Streamliner’s are always a crowd favorite at boat shows, this is a 1954 22′ Streamliner owned by George & Jacquie Balaschak, powered by a Chrysler straight six.

The picture of the young lad standing next to Carman Keyes 1985 30′ Hackercraft Triple “Grandpas Dream” is my son Brad Keyes, one of 11 grandchildren that Carman Keyes has.

The boat in the foreground is “Rawley” a 1964 19’6″ Duke Utility also owned by Ron & Wilma Jelley, the same folks who own the unrestored 1956 Peterborough Comet on the top of this story. The boat in the background of the shot is “Campster” a rare 1935 20′ Dodge 402A Cabin Utility. (With Tom’s help, we are hoping to learn more about this rare Dodge Cabin Utility for a future Woody Boater story – Texx)

“Campster” is owned by John and Susan Richardson, according to the Manotick Classic Boat Club web site, she is the last one in service on the planet.

Image Courtesy Manitock Classic Boat Club - Greg Tilley

Last but certainly not least is a very rare 1947 W.J. Johnson 22′ Runabout built in Port Carling, Ontario which is powered by a 135HP 6-cylinder Chrysler Ace engine.

“We have many founding members still active in the Manotick Classic Boat Club today. My first boat show was when I was the same age as my son Brad, 11 years old. Hopefully some day he will bring his son to the 75th Manotick show, and oh yeah hopefully I will be still around for that show too.”

Tom Keyes
Sew Kool Embroidery

Thanks for the great report Tom, we appreciate you sending it in to Woody Boater. We apologize for being a few days late getting the Manotick Boat Show report published, as the last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind for us here at Woody Boater. That reminds me, I have a Whirlwind boat story to put together!! – Texx

Here’s a map which helps to outline the location of the historic Rideau Canal as it winds it’s way from Ottawa to the St. Lawrence River to the south.

2 replies
  1. Dave Clyne
    Dave Clyne says:

    What a pleasant surprise to see the local show reviewed and a good show it was too. It’s always more interesting to have a mix of types including some cruisers. The Rideau deserves all the publicity it gets. What a gem in our midst. For those of us still in the restoration stage with our boats this show feeds our motivation to sand, varnish, sand, varnish…

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Dave – I was very impressed to learn the history of the Manotick Classic Boat Club, and agree that it deserves the all the publicity we can give it.

      Hopefully some day we get up to Manotick to cover the show / club event in person.

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