If you like boating, then Muskoka was the place to be this July. The Toronto ACBS Show held in Gravenhurst each year has always been one of the top places to view classic boats of all types. This year was no exception with the docks overflowing with more than 100 boats. But not everyone is satisfied with just showing their boat, some are more interested in using them. That is what brought Chris Bullen, Jim Watt, and Rich Hughes together with the idea of offering a number of boating events prior to the weekend boat show.
Over the years, Chris, Jim and Rich have travelled to a number of ACBS shows that hosted “pre-event” runs that enabled visitors to boat on the local waterways and meet the people of the hosting chapter. From this concept, the Gravenhurst Pre-Event runs were developed, focusing on giving our out-of-town and out-of-country guests a chance to see what beautiful waterways Muskoka has to offer.
Tuesday night kicked off with a meet-and-greet held at a local restaurant in Gravenhurst. The bulk of the guests were from South of the boarder, including one couple that travelled all the way from Kentucky. Introductions were made and the agendas were handed out for the boating days that lay ahead. Most had a long travel day and with an early start to the next day, it was time to head back to our rooms and get some rest. But not before stopping for some local ice-cream!
Wednesday morning ten boats on trailers met in the Gravenhurst parking lot to travel the one hour over to Gloucester Pool. As the crow flies, the Pool is only a short distance away but there is no direct connecting road. Once there, we met up with Scott Dunsmoor and Sandy Kennedy who would be our guides and hosts for the trip. A short boat ride brought us to the base of Big Chute. If you have never been here, it is very impressive to see. A number of our guests took their boats over the Chute from which they remarked that this was the highlight of the trip. The Dunsmoors hosted us for lunch at their cottage while Scott took passengers over to Sandy’s Marine Museum in the Traveller. One last stop was Severn Lodge before loading the boats back up and returning to Gravenhurst.
The Lake Rosseau run on Thursday was the longest with almost seventy miles of travel. Starting off in Gravenhurst Bay, the boats ran through Lake Muskoka to the Port Carling Locks. A short lift up to Lake Rosseau and the trip continued. Rosseau is populated with impressive cottages, boathouses and resorts. The highlight was a lunch stop at the famous Windermere House. With our bellies full, we set sail back to Gravenhurst.
The Friday Poker Run has been quickly growing in popularity to the point that registrations had to be closed off early this year due to a sell-out response. To accommodate the large number of boats, the group was split in two with a guide boat each to take them to the card pick up stops. Five stops for the faster boats including Wa Chee We, a 35’ Ditchburn race boat, and four stops for the slower and smaller boats including a 13’ Canadian Canoe Co. outboard. Murray Walker had his boathouse open for people to make a quick stop to see the impressive collection of Muskoka boats. The day wrapped up with a lunch and presentation to the winners who managed to collect a royal flush in cards.
The weather forecast for the Saturday Boat Show was anything but good. A massive storm late Friday night had knocked out much of the power in the surrounding area, which caused the absence of some boats that couldn’t get off their lifts. But other than some very early morning rain, Gravenhurst managed to escape the damage that the other towns had received. Even with dark clouds, the Show went on without any rain throughout the day.
This year hosted Greavette Boats, filling an entire dock with Greavettes alone. The boats-in-motion and new “Ride Along” program continued all day giving spectators the chance to see the boats running as well as being in them. The rain managed to hold off all day, but by the end of the show it did move in soaking a few people especially at the loading ramp.It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to host a week of boating events. A very big thanks to the many organizers and volunteers of ACBS Torontowho gave their time and services to make this week successful. And a special thanks to those that travelled the distance to take part.