Miss Canada III Set To Return To Her Birthplace

ELW - Miller & MC III cockpit - retouched - Copy

The Iconic Miss Canada III with her Miller V-12 race engine – Photo Harry Wilson.

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.



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 michaelfolsom@abm.org


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).

MC III on hook draining HAW on deck - Copy

Miss Canada III “On the Hook” – with her unique Douglas van Patten styling

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.

LMW on deck 2 crop

Lorna boldly attending to some engine issues.

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)

Presidents' Cup course layout - Copy

1939 Presidents Cup Regatta, Washington Harbor – Race Course Layout

Miss Canada III dominating the Presidents Cup race.

Washington MCIII winner jpeg - Copy

Miss Canada III – Winning in Washington, DC

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.

FDR HAW CV LMW 1939 jpeg - Copy

1939 Presidents Cup presentation – Harold & Lorna Wilson with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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.

Rossi Wilson Gold Cup 1938

Rossi vs Wilson – Gold Cup 1938

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.

MC III hatches open stern view - Copy
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.

MC III Merlin late version windshield numbers Silver Cup 1948 - Copy

MC III Bridge shot Detroit hi angle - Copy

RR Griffon powered Miss Canada III in Detroit

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

Sept 8 1938 LMW HAW Detroit 1 Vig 2 - Copy

Harold & Lorna Wilson – September 8, 1938 in Detroit

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.

And finally, to see the great story on the history of Harold Wilson by Fred Farley, you can Click Here to go to the informative Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum website.


20 replies
  1. Michael Öhman
    Michael Öhman says:

    Most interesting article and amazing good news!

    The two boats together! Wow! What a visitor’s thrill!

    Happy wooden boat greetings from Sweden


  2. Sean
    Sean says:

    The 2013 ACBS – Toronto show in Gravenhurst just keeps getting better and better!

    I havn’t missed one in about fifteen years but, I am so excited about this year.

    It is so perfect that these great “Miss Canada” boats come back to the home of Greavette, and kudos for the substantial commitment from the owners to enable this to happen.

    I’ll be so proud to have my wee Greavette on the lake that weekend…even if she’s not a “showgirl”. (But, I am looking forward to the Woodyboater run)

    Also, it’s great that so many are supporting this show with their raceboats (many we do not get to see often) and going to great lengths to make this uncommon event a spectacular one.

  3. Tom
    Tom says:

    I love the picture of Lorna on the deck.

    I asked my wife if she would do that for me. Guess I will never be a Gold Cup racer.

  4. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Wow, the Wilson’s are Canadian racing royalty and Lorna must have been a “Wallenda” to balance on that bulbous bouncing bow. Great job compiling all the info and pix.

  5. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    Based on my history of trying to get in and out of Canada with a boat, what arrangements are the ABM making with the border to get up North with the boat?

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      To get from the ABM to Canada, all you have to do is wait for nightfall or a foggy morning

        • Sean
          Sean says:

          I’m sure our polite Canadian Boarder patrol will say “Thank-you” though.

          …and they’ll only catch you if they are “Oooot and abooot”.

    • Cobourg-Kid
      Cobourg-Kid says:

      There is a section entitled “temporary importation of vehicles and private boats” via land on the Canadian Border agency web site http://www.cbsa.gc.ca/publications/pub/bsf5082-eng.html

      It indicates “during your stay in Canada, as a visitor or a temporary resident (not seasonal resident), you can temporarily import passenger and recreational vehicles, such as snowmobiles, boats and trailers, as well as outboard motors, for your personal use.”

      It’s also advisable to make sure that you have a passport for everyone in your vehicle, alternately a birth or citizenship certificate to establish American citizenship, as well as photo ID. This is less strict than US Customs which require all Canadians entering the US to have a passport.

      It’s also important to have the paperwork on hand to prove the car boat and trailer are all licensed by a US state just in case you are asked to provide proof of ownership.

      With respect to operation of the boat in Canada, the regs are not onerous, ( unless you stay for over 45 days) the attached link provides all required details

  6. Douglas Van Patten,3
    Douglas Van Patten,3 says:

    My wife and I be there in Gravenhurst for the celebration.
    I am looking forward to seeing all the great people and their wonderful boats.

  7. Texx
    Texx says:

    Dan – The Gravenhurst / Muskoka trip (via Michigan) will be on two wheels with only enough capacity for camera gear and a small laptop.

    Are you planning to attend the show with your Riviera?

  8. dreed
    dreed says:

    If you were bringing Cyclone I would. I think you could get a trailer hitch on that Harley, and bring her in tow.

  9. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    We will be there for a week. Arriving on July 4th. Staying at a resort 10 miles north of Gravenhurst, on the west shore. Look forward to thr poker run and a week of cruisin those beautiful lakes up there.

  10. Wain Trotter
    Wain Trotter says:

    We’ll be there with two vintage wooden hydro’s from the ’60’s and ’70’s-certainly enjoy the wonderful collection of restored vintage race boats!
    Wain & Carol Trotter

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