The 2013 season is officially up and running on all cylinders throughout the region. Ice has melted, birds have returned and ships are back on the river!
Seaway Opens for 2013
The tail end of March brought the opening of the Seaway yet again and with little fanfare throughout the Islands. It wouldn’t be until the second day of the season before ship watchers would be putting their binoculars and cameras into action as the beautiful new CSL “Trillium-class” ship Baie St. Paul made its way upbound from Montreal.
Over the course of the past month, things have remained quiet in the shipping world along the St. Lawrence. Only two minor glitches occurred – the first being with tug Everlast in the South Shore Canal just west of Montreal where it collided with the canal wall and the other being a slight hold up for ships near Massena as the Eisenhower Lock gate required some work before allowing ships to continue on their routes.
All in all, the Seaway season looks to be off to a strong start and on the heels of a successful 2012, many in the industry believe 2013 could be one of the strongest years in some time. In addition, we will welcome a number of new ships or newly renamed ships throughout the Islands this year. CSL will introduce more of the “Trillium-class,” while Algoma is on the brink of introducing the newest ship in their “Equinox-class.” Plus, FedNav has been in the process of renaming ships and various salties to the region will make first-ever appearances.
Tall Ships Return
The popularity of tall ships in the region has skyrocketed in the past 3-4 years. In 2013, tall ships will surely take center stage.
The mid-June Brockville Tall Ships Festival (June 14-16) is locked up to be one of Ontario’s largest celebrations of the year, if not the decade. Roughly a dozen ships will step up along the river’s edge in the small Thousand Islands city and capture the attention of thousands of visitors. Ships from near and far will take part – most with Canadian ties (Fair Jeanne, Empire Sandy, St. Lawrence II, etc), while others will venture from afar.
And while Brockville parties with the masses, small town Clayton will continue its now three year tradition of hosting a festival with a tall ship presence.
Sailing Seaway Clayton will kick-off the Wednesday (June 12) prior to the big event downriver when tall ships Lynx and Empire Sandy sail into town. Lynx will again provide daily sailing excursion opportunities off the Thousand Islands Regional Dock at Frink Park in Clayton, while Empire Sandy makes a brief visit for deck tours prior to heading to Brockville. The even more popular DockDogs competition, Seaway Splash, returns for the second year in a row and was a major reason that festival attendance spiked to more than 11,000 people in 2012.
It doesn’t end there as a potential mid-September stop by one or more tall ships to Clayton prior to their exit from the Seaway is being worked out.
Miss Canada III Returning Home
One of the most iconic raceboats in Canadian history is set to make a trip back home. Miss Canada III, a part of the Antique Boat Museum’s (ABM) collection, will return to Gravenhurst, Ontario where it was originally built.
Designed by Douglas van Patten and built in 1938 by Greavette Boatworks, Miss Canada III will be placed on special loan from the ABM for the summer of 2013.
“This is really a special exhibit for the Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre and we are grateful to the ABM for making it available to us”, noted Rick Terry, President of the Muskoka Steamship & Historical Society, who will oversee the boats stay in Canada. “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 other iconic raceboats 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 ABM. “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 by restorer Bill Morgan. But she came from Gravenhurst, and it is important that she be displayed there as well.”
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.
Details on the departure of Miss Canada III from Clayton have yet to be finalized.
By Michael Folsom
The Antique Boat Museum recently announced the appointment of a new Director of Marketing – Michael Folsom. Michael leaves a career of 15 seasons with the Syracuse Crunch Hockey Club and is well known in the Thousand Islands. He is a regular contributor to TI Life authoring 30 articles. He covers the Seaway News on his popular web site, http://www.theshipwatcher.com/, as well as a twitter site: http://twitter.com/theshipwatcher. His work has been featured in the Thousand Islands Sun, as well as on boatnerd.com and northcountrynow.com. He currently serves as a Board member for the Lynx Educational Foundation, operators of the tall ship Lynx, as well as a committee member for the Thousand Islands Regional Dock and was recently named to the Clayton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
For the past two years TI Life has been following Sailing Seaway Clayton since its inception [Coming to Clayton... in June] . Many in Clayton consider the week as the best organized and most successful events ever! Michael is correct when he gives praise to Mayor Zimmer and all those who “got on board” to originally bring the tall ships, Lynx and the Fair Jeanne to town. We are sure this year’s event will be just as popular. What better way to showcase one of the Thousand Islands special communities! Congratulations Mike and welcome to the 1000 Islands full time!