Neither Snow, Nor Wind, Nor Sleet, Nor Hail Shall Keep Woody Boaters From Missing The Toronto Winter Workshop


Winter 12 - Rita Transom

Grand Lady of Muskoka Lake “RITA” is a 1914 Minett 52 footer.

TODAY WE TRAVEL TO PORT CARLING in Ontario, Canada with fellow Woody Boaters Chris & Julie Bullen for a Live-ish report from the 2015 Toronto ACBS Winter Workshop. Muskoka – where the varnish is always fresh and the roofs are extra sturdy. – Texx

Winter 5 - Cozy Port Carling Still Snowing

The locals refer to this as “Cozy Port Carling…” (We could probably think of another name for it – Texx)

Live-ish from the 2015 Toronto ACBS Winter Workshop
Story and Photos by Chris & Julie Bullen

As we all know, even as far south as Florida – baby its cold outside. The oranges are frosty. While up north, the snow keeps falling and it`s been –29c (-20F) for too long. Rich and I are ready to haul the boats south to Florida, but he has a 6 foot snow drift in front of his storage shed and with the wind blowing like it has, there is no sense in doing anything about it (yet). February is getting long in the tooth, I hope the ground hogs are right and some warmer temperatures are just around the corner.

Winter 4 - Cozy Port Carling

A welcome break at this time of year is always the annual Toronto ACBS Winter Workshop. A great opportunity to get together with our fellow classic boat enthusiasts, to share some knowledge and chat about the upcoming boating season. This year, the event was held in Port Carling, Ontario at the shop of Tom Adams – Tom you may remember restored the famous “Miss Canada IV” Greavette race boat.

Now he has one of the grand ladies of Lake Muskoka in his workshop named “RITA”. She is a 52 foot Minett – originally built in 1914 by renowned boat builder Bert Minett at his company H.C. Minett Motor Boat Company in nearby Bracebridge, Ontario.

Winter 6 - Rita Dock

The legendary 52 foot Minett “RITA” always a popular attraction in the Muskoka area.

From the Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre website – “Until 1932 Minett produced boats from 28’ to 36’. The factory was located at the top of the falls in Bracebridge and the boats were transferred by horse drawn wagons to the bottom of the falls for launching. One boat however, “RITA” by name, was 50’ long and was shipped by rail car to Gravenhurst for launching to avoid having to transfer the boat down the steep roads leading to the still waters of Muskoka River at the bottom of the falls.”

Winter 7 - Rita 3

“RITA” has lived on Lake Muskoka all her life and also in the same boathouse, on Cinderwood Island. She was due for a little attention, so she had to be wrapped and floated to the ramp as she would no longer stay afloat.

Winter 11 - Rita Starboard

Now safely in Tom Adams boat shop the work is well under way on this 100 year-old treasure, and on Saturday it was exciting to see what Tom’s crew was doing on the boat as part of her extensive preservation. They sure look big out of the water…

Looking at the huge Minett – she must have been the ultimate party boat for the very wealthy way back when, as she has an odd layout.

Winter 9 - Rita Port

At 52 feet, the 1914 Minett is a “big” project.

Winter 8 - Rita Bow

Looking forward towards the bow.

Winter 10 - Rita to Stern

“RITA” to stern.

Winter 3 - Bow Interior

A glimpse of the repair work under way down below inside the bow.

“RITA” will be sailing once again in about 20 months or so, as we all know you can’t put a hard deadline on these projects.

As part of this year’s winter workshop, the “Master of Old Engines” Matt Fairbrass talked about vintage marine engines and how to keep them going. We also had the “Master of Props” Amanda Holloway (from United Propellers) on hand to talk about the mysteries of prop science. Lastly our youngest boat builder James Osler talked about marine adhesives.

Tom Adams also had a beautiful Minett Shields in his shop – an elegant 1928 28 footer named “Belle Vista III”.

Winter 1 - Bella Vista III 1928 Minett 28ft

“Belle Vista III” looking happy in Tom Adams workshop.

Winter 2 - Bella Vista III 1928 Minett 28ft

Another shot from inside the cockpit of “Belle Vista III”

It was a great social day to meet our boating friends and not talk about the weather.

Chris & Julie Bullen

Winter 13 - Tom Adams Shop

Special thanks to Chris & Julie Bullen for sending us this Live-ish report today. It’s always fun to see what’s inside the walls of the boat shops this time of year. The Toronto Chapter ACBS has many events planned for the 2015 season, you can check out their premium website Here.

Also, the Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre in Gravenhurst, Ontario does a fabulous job of preserving the history of boating in Canada. To learn more about Bert Minett, his company H.C. Minett Motor Boat Company and later the Minett-Shields Boat Building Company (as well as many other legendary Canadian wooden boat builders), you can check out their great website by Clicking Here.

Do you have snow in your back yard today? Let us know or send us a photo from the back porch – we dare you… Best Sunday snow shot could win you a virtual prize.


29 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Great story Chris, Julie and Texx. It’s boats like Rita that make lake Muskoka such a wonderful place. I look forward to going there again some day.

  2. matt
    matt says:

    The Washington DC Woody Boater Headquarters – Massy Creek Virginia, 15 miles from DC. The puddle in the forground is the pool.

    • Troy in ANE
      Troy in ANE says:

      Is this thread becoming a snow on the deck competition? I am sure someone can outdo this one.

      Yes the lanterns are at the end of the deck and if there are any table and chairs in there we won’t see them till July.

  3. Tobler Fine
    Tobler Fine says:

    It is nice and warm out here and the snow is fun to play in. I am not coming inside unless I smell someone making bacon!

      • m-fine
        m-fine says:

        The barrel of brandy collar is for a Saint Bernard. My parents have had Saints and do have a barrel or two. Tobler is a Bernese Mountain Dog. While also Swiss, they were farm dogs and cart haulers whereas the Saint Bernard was used to guard monestaries and for search and rescue. So what Tobler needs is a cart full of Gruyere cheese to haul, but he is not allowed to do that for another 9 months since his bones are still growing.

        • Phillip Jones
          Phillip Jones says:

          Hey don’t spoil the moment, he wants that barrel of brandy, what are you a dog whisperer.):):)or a short order Bacon cook:)

          • m-fine
            m-fine says:

            Both! and as such, I can assure you Tobler would mich rather have bacon than brandy! From the dog’s perspective, the brandy barrel is a complete screw job. You carry the thing all day, but even though it is literally under your nose, you never get to drink any. Humans never share the booze.

            Now when you haul the fresh milk down the mountain to the cheesemaker, and then haul cheese and meats back home, the humans offen let you have the rinds and trimmings. A much better deal!

  4. Sean
    Sean says:

    Sorry I didn’t make the Port Carling workshop but, I had to take my daughter back to Queen’s U yesterday so I could watch the DAYTONA 500 today! See all of you at the TSACBA event in a couple of weeks…

    Snow not so bad in Newmarket, Ontario… but this cold sure sucks.

  5. Scaletom
    Scaletom says:

    Sorry I couldn’t get a snow shot this morning but I’m on the wrong coast. The closest snow around here is on Mt. Rainier.

  6. Kentucky Wonder
    Kentucky Wonder says:

    This is Baker, seven-year-old Golden Retriever. She chased every sled down the hill, and got sprayed with powder on this run. One seriously tired (and sore?) puppy the following day.

  7. Ron in Seattle
    Ron in Seattle says:

    No snow in my back yard today…will I be disqualified?
    Do I cut the daffodils before or after I mow the lawn? I couldn’t do it yesterday because I was painting the front yard fence, and I’ll put a second coat on tmro…

  8. thomas d
    thomas d says:

    how much longer for the woody classifieds ?, i’d rather put my stuff on here than ebay. also be on the lookout, someone stole my woodyboater dog.

    • matt
      matt says:

      Its done ish? Everytime I try and work on it I get frustrated as to how people can load stuff. Should be up soon

  9. briant
    briant says:

    You Easterners have seen more snow and cold than Grog saw in the last Ice Age.

    Here on the West Coast, we’re waxing MGBs and driving around with the top down – in February.

    Oh yeah, Climate Change is such a hoax….

  10. Brian Flaherty
    Brian Flaherty says:

    Don’t let the others fool you. The PNW isn’t in some tropical heat wave… I took my boys to the park today cause it was sunny. However it was still cold enough to require the 3 month old adorn his “teddy bear suit”!!

    It’s cold enough that I can’t get the paint to cure properly on the boat either..

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