Orville Wright’s “Kittyhawk” To Be Featured In Gravenhurst, Ontario – July 9th, 2011

Photo Courtesy of Tim Du Vernet

Media Release

Antique and Classic Boat Society to Spotlight Kittyhawk in Gravenhurst July 9

GRAVENHURST, ONTARIO – The Toronto chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society (ACBS) confirms that Kittyhawk, a 1929, 32’ 6” Gidley, originally owned by Orville Wright, will be the poster boat at this year’s Antique and Classic Boat Show to be held Saturday, July 9 at Muskoka Wharf in Gravenhurst.

About Kittyhawk: Few Canadians are aware that for over 25 years, Wright vacationed in the then unspoiled wilderness of Georgian Bay. Facing ill health and depression after the death of his brother, Wilbur, Wright took a friend’s advice to spend time in the area. His first visit proved so beneficial to his health, he returned in 1916 and purchased Lambert Island. He purchased a series of boats from Gidley Boat Works in Penetanguishene; the last one was Kittyhawk in 1931.

According to the late Harold D. Shield, Orville did not name the boat Kittyhawk. In fact he didn’t name it anything. In keeping with his desire to receive as little attention as possible, he just ignored the urging of friends to name the boat. One of the friends was A.Y. Jackson, the famous Group of Seven artist, who painted regularly in the area. Realizing that Orville would ignore their gift of boat letters, they conspired to have Wright’s housekeeper present them to Orville for Christmas, knowing that he could not disappoint her by ignoring her gift. Orville dutifully accepted the gift of stainless steel letters and sent them off to Gidley’s with instructions to install them on each side of the bow and on the transom. Unfortunately he failed to advise them that the place name of the historic flight was two words, not one, so the resulting error persists to this day. The boat is currently owned by Guy and Kathy Johnstone of Midland, Ontario.

For further information about Kittyhawk, contact: Guy and Kathy Johnstone, gkjohnstone@csolve.net

Orville Wright piloting the Wright Flyer with Wilbur assisting - Kitty Hawk Dec. 17, 1903

About the Antique and Classic Boat Show: The Antique and Classic Boat Show is an annual event attracting thousands of visitors to the Gravenhurst area, and it is Canada’s largest in-water boat show. In addition to Kittyhawk, visitors at this 31st annual show can expect to see up to 100 vintage craft – both in the water and on the land. This year’s show theme of “Fine Lines” includes the line drawings of well-known boats, the beauty of design, and the historical lineage – all will make this year special. Thepopular cardboard boat parade and Dory construction program for young boaters will continue to be a hallmark of the show as well as the addition of a series of seminars to further attract those interested in boat restoration and history. Included in the land displays are the Field of Dreams, vendors, and approximately 100 antique and classic cars organized by the Pink Slips Car Club. Admission is $10 at the gate.

About the Antique and Classic Boat Society: Begun in 1980, the mission of the ACBS – Toronto Chapter is to protect, preserve and promote our Canadian heritage of vintage watercraft by:

• Providing events and services which educate and inspire member and public appreciation and enjoyment of this heritage,
• Protecting and preserving vintage watercraft, related artifacts and information,
• Working with and supporting non-profit organizations having links to our interest, events or venue communities,
• Providing services to our members fostering fellowship, education, and resource information in our common interest, and
• Increasing awareness of, appreciation of and participation in our Society

For further information regarding ACBS – Toronto, contact: Chris Bullen, President, woodboatfun@rogers.com
For further information regarding the 31st Annual Antique and Classic Boat Show, contact:
Boat Show Chair: Gary Getson, ggetson@rogers.com
Boat Show Co-Chairs: Paul and Rita Adams, adamsfw@sympatico.ca

Thanks to Kathy Rhodes – Editor, Classicboat Magazine (the Toronto Chapter Publication) and Director, Toronto Chapter ACBS for sharing this Press Release with us here at Woody Boater. For more information about the Toronto Chapter ACBS or the upcoming boat show in Gravenhurst, click here to go directly to their web site.

If you ever have an opportunity to make it up to Gravenhurst, Ontario for one of the Toronto Chapter ACBS – Antique & Classic Boat Shows, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.


5 replies
  1. Texx
    Texx says:

    I agree, this is a great story… Prior to receiving the Press Release from the Toronto Chapter, I must admit I had no idea that Orville Wright was a Woody Boater!

  2. private
    private says:

    Orville loved lambert island from what his neice and nephew said to me personally,due to I am orvilles Great nephew,He use to own a dingy,that he taught my mother katherine wright,namesake of there sister,Katherine,Reuchlin wright,was my mothers Grandfather,his son herbert,was her father,theres many family photos of lambert island,and,they enjoyed the boating,the wood boating so much

    • Doug Finn
      Doug Finn says:

      Mum said her grandfather’s boat was faster than the kitty ( breezy point ) a point that her grandfather was proud of.A storied history and a blessed place .

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