Apr 11, 2019
Gidley Shop 1903 The Gidley shop in 1903

By 1895, Henry Gidley (1864-1933) had established his boat building business on the Penetanguishene waterfront. At first named the Georgian Bay Boat & Canoe Company, it soon became known as H.E. Gidley & Co., and then by 1914 the Gidley Boat Company. It produced a wide variety of vessels, including canoes, skiffs, sailboats, motorized launches, and houseboats. Gidley also built a number of boats in the 100 ft range, many for government service.

In its 1906 catalogue, Gidley & Co. was already claiming to be the largest builder of pleasure boats in Canada. Making stock models from standardized parts based on templates, and using an early form of line production, Gidley’s was able to build 200-00 boats a year! Still, they maintained a high standard of quality, which was credited to their “perfect system” of manufacturing.

Gidley Ad 1914A leader in gasoline-powered displacement launches, in 1922 Gidley struck a deal with Ford to supply them with Model T engines. These were used in a 24 ft. mahogany runabout with a partial V-bottom hull known as the “Gidley-Ford.” (A 20 ft cedar utility model with the same engine was also available.) This boat was only produced for four years, though, probably due to the rapid improvements in engine designs at this time. Another notable Gidley boat from this era was the 32 ft launch built for Orville Wright in 1929, named the Kittyhawk. It still survives today.

Gidley Ad 1930The Gidley Boat Co. prospered during the boom years of the 1920s, but like most other builders was hard-pressed to make sales during the Depression. Still, it managed to survive until 1939, when Clarence Kemp, a Toronto businessman who had already acquired Grew Boats of Jackson’s Point, bought the struggling company. Kemp merged the two companies under the Grew name, but the Penetang boatworks – which had expanded significantly over the years – continued as the main factory for the new company and was still referred to as the Gidley Plant.

-Gerry Hatherley

Gerry Hatherley is a researcher and writer for the Archives at Muskoka Steamships and Discovery Centre. His main focus has been on the vintage boat builders of Muskoka. Gerry lives in Gravenhurst, ON, and has deep family roots in the region.

This article is the CYOB’s fourth in a series of articles and photos. The series is nine at the moment but Gerry is working on another six or seven.  Other articles in the series include: 

Grew Boats

Bastien Boats of Hamilton, ON

Gilbert Motor Boat Company

Lifestyle

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DIY & How to

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Sailboat Under Cloudy Skies

By Joan Wenner, J.D.

Sailboat under cloudy sky by Bill Cox-Unsplash

Have you ever needed on-the-water assistance due to a mechanical breakdown, running aground, taking on water (perhaps from striking a submerged or floating object), having a mishap with another vessel, or have a medical emergency and the authorities are not near, but another mariner answers your mayday or perhaps observes your predicament. Another boater is in the vicinity, but will, or should, that person offer to help perhaps at his peril? What if you were that pleasure craft operator?

Read more about Good Samaritans............

 

  

Monte Carlo 52The launch of the new Monte Carlo 52 will be one of the highlights of the Cannes Yachting Festival 2019. This 50-foot high-end motor yacht is eagerly awaited and will introduce the Monte Carlo “Smart Luxury” generation. The stylish flybridge powerboat has inherited all the superb signature features of a successful range: modern design, elegant lines, distinctive character, incredibly well-used spaces and a careful focus on details, not to mention the iconic large porthole, distinguishing the 15 m (50’) to 18 m (60’) class of yachts made in Vendée. The Monte Carlo 52 has greatly improved all these features.

 

Read more about the Monte Carlo 52..............

 

John ArmstrongOur Canadian Yachting test team, John Armstong and Andy Adams, were at a Jeanneau media event called “Throttle Down” in St. Petersburg, Florida. The media event was held to highlight the Jeanneau Power Boat Line with the emphasis on their outboard models. 

The media event was scheduled to follow their Jeanneau dealer meetings, held earlier at Thunder Marine International in St. Petersburg. The Thunder Marine location is on the water and has a cooperative agreement with Jeanneau to host the full line of Jeanneau power boats in the water for dealer demonstration to their clients.

Read More about the Jeanneau Media Event...........

Destinations

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ChicagoBy Mark Stevens

Photos by Sharon Matthews-Stevens


From my perspective on the observation deck of 360 Chicago in the John Hancock Building, I have an eagle’s-eye view of this Lake Michigan metropolis.

The city stretched out before us is a forest of concrete. Toward the lake – right below us – there’s a beach volleyball game in progress. White triangles crisscross Caribbean-blue waters in the distance. Sunday morning must be race day – just like home.

 

Read more about Chicago....................

 

Marine Products

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