The Summer Of The Enchanting “Wa Chee We”


To say that fellow Woody Boater John Unsworth is “absolutely thrilled” with his freshly restored wooden boat would be an understatement… And we have proof of that here today – both in John’s own words and some great summer boating video from the Muskoka Lakes Region of Canada.

In May 2012 we shared the remarkable story of “Wa Chee We” the 1923 Ditchburn Fisher-Allison Class Race Boat which was raised from the bottom of Muskoka Lake after 40 years. (To see those original stories we have provided links at the bottom of today’s story)

“Wa Chee We” was beautifully restored by Gary Clark of Clark Wooden Boats in Bracebridge, Ontario and successfully re-launched in late June 2012.

Gary Clark of Clark Wooden Boats handing-off the boat to John at the re-launch in June.

John Unsworth reflects on the Summer of 2012

This summer has been one of the most memorable ones of my life. It reminded me of the summers of Muskoka past, when everyday was sunny, the girls were golden and the music of the Beach Boys and Neil Young pulsated out across the water.

This summer it was the summer of the enchanting “Wa Chee We”. Suddenly it all came back: The boat, like my spirit, resurrected and renewed, lives again. There is just no experience like a wood boat coursing through the water at speed—impossible not to smile and love life. Friends filling the boat and building new memories. The sounds of the water and wood caressing each other, urging each other along. Sunrises and sunsets, spring mist hovering over the cold winter water. At night, the dim light causing islands to float and smear to soft shades of purple.

All the gifts of a wood boat, which belongs here, which is celebrated here, which was born from the stands of trees here. This is an experience only known to those who love and use their wood boats during day and night.

My friend Victor, visiting other friends from Pittsburgh, on Lake Muskoka, produced this great video of a pleasant summer day, on the “Wa Chee We”. – John

“WA CHEE WE” The 1923 Ditchburn Fisher-Allison Class Racer from Victor Beltran on Vimeo.

A stout 700 HP Viper V-10 for power

For many of us, warm summer boat rides are now just a memory, so to help get us through the winter, here’s another short video from John’s brother, during a speed run on board “Wa Chee We” last summer… Exercising her new Viper V-10. Hope it helps – Texx

John enjoying a warm summer cruise with his daughter Nancy

Thanks John for sharing your story and video’s with us here at Woody Boater today… “Wa Chee We” looks and sounds fantastic!

To see the stories of “Wa Chee We” that were published on Woody Boater last May, just click on the following links.

The Raising and Restoration of the “Wa Chee We” – After 40 Years

The Raising and Restoration of the “Wa Chee We” – The Original Written Story


12 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Beautiful boat. I hope to see her in person next summer at the ACBS show. I think the Viper V10 power was a good choice.

  2. Bill
    Bill says:

    great boat great restoration job just too bad somebody didnt launch that piano along with the boat what was that being played with a ballpeen hammer let us hear the music of the engine not that racket

  3. Carl Garmhaus
    Carl Garmhaus says:

    I had the opportunity to see the boat during both the early stages of reconstruction and again this past spring when final touches were being done during the Toronto Chapter Workshop tour plus talk to Gary and see that cool Viper engine before it was installed in the boat. It is much more beautiful in person than the pictures can give it credit. Nice job is an understatement. I’m so jealous.

  4. Sean
    Sean says:

    I have seen this boat on multiple occasions and she is a beautiful recreation of the original Ditchburn glory with attention to detail second to none.
    The modern driveline resonates like a fine insturment and I’m sure she’s too quick for my boat to keep up…I do wonder how the original power would have sounded though.
    The story of her creation is most certainly unique and makes for a great read as well as an inspiration to others to bring back these legendary designs.

  5. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Love the custom exhaust work. I second the request for a music free version of the video so we can hear all 10 cylinders singing.

  6. Charley Quimby
    Charley Quimby says:

    A beautiful job, but I have a question: How does the intake on the engine pass muster as a flame arrestor?

  7. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Driving over 2100 miles to the Toronto Spring Tour to see Wa Chee We and Miss Canada was one helluva trip and well worth it. High speed Muskoka built launches such as the Ditchburns, Minetts, Greavettes, et al, are the Duesenbergs of the water.

    Its great that Wa Chee We is still “hanging” in Browning Island. What an awesome ride up to Port Carling via the Indian River and back. Thanks for the video, if I could just project it on a 55″ flat screen, oh hell, make it the new 90″, might as well dream in color.

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