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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Leasing a YachtBy Andy Adams

When I first saw the display at the Toronto International Boat Show saying that you could lease a new yacht, it stopped me dead in my tracks. While I had never considered leasing boats, we are certainly seeing growth in boat rental organizations, so leasing didn’t seem out of line. In fact, I wondered why it had taken this long to see boat leasing come to the market.

However, I have a reasonable understanding of how leasing works compared to financing a purchase and I wondered how the numbers could work for something like a yacht. The sign was in front of a 60 foot Princess Express Cruiser – about $3,000,000 

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Beneteau Oceanis 30.1The Oceanis official US debut will be at the upcoming Newport International Boat Show in September and will be featured at the United States Sailboat show in Annapolis in October.

With an overall size under 30 feet and a light displacement of less than 8,805 lbs., the Oceanis is easily trailerable without a wide load permit. If you prefer to access your sailing grounds by canals and rivers, the lifting keel and rotating mast open a world of endless possibilities. Perfect for sailing on lakes or for coastal hopping, this new Oceanis is, nevertheless, a robust category B sailing yacht, fitted for offshore sailing. The smallest of the range offers the biggest choice of programs! 

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Grady White Freedom 235 Dual ConsoleBy Jill Snider

Once again, I had the pleasure of joining CY’s test guru Andy Adams on a boat review. This time, out on Georgian Bay, we put the Grady White Freedom 235 Dual Console to the test. There are so many great things to tell you about this classic beauty.

Andy
If I were required to compare Grady White’s Freedom 235 Dual Console to an animal, I would tell you that she has the character of a Labrador Retriever. Here are a few reasons why...

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Destinations

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Port Severn's Lock 45Blake Marchand


As the final link between Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay, Port Severn’s Lock 45 is the gateway to the beautiful Trent-Severn Waterway. The first and smallest lock to be constructed on the Severn portion, Lock 45 is entrenched in Canadian History and is worth the trip in itself. However, it is the waterway and its idyllic surroundings that will keep you coming back.

The canal connects Lake Ontario and Lake Huron with an eastern terminus in Trenton and a western terminus in Port Severn. Its amazing natural waterways include the Trent River, Otonabee River, The Kawartha Lakes, Lake Simcoe, Lake Couchiching and Severn River.

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Marine Products

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