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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Tight FitA new shrink-wrap promises more environmentally conscious

In Nov 2019, I was fortunate enough to attend the Boating Ontario conference in Niagara Falls ON. This conference is geared to members and suppliers of the marine industry particularly marina operations. One of the suppliers was Layfield Geosynthetics, offering a new shrink-wrap film called ‘Bioflex MarineShrink’. The Layfield rep that I spoke with described the new product as a more environmentally conscious option (more on what this means, below).

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Beneteau Flyer 32By Andy Adams

Summer sun boat! The handsome new Beneteau Flyer 32 is all about entertaining and the bow area is one of the main attractions. It's a wide shape forward with a huge anchor locker and opening centre section in the railing that invites you to beach the boat and go swimming. The bow is really one giant sun bed area with armrests that fold down and head rests too, for fall-asleep comfort. 

 

 

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Dufour 460By Katherine Stone

When one does an October yacht review on the Great Lakes you can never be sure of what kind of weather you will get…. and did we ever luck out! A beautiful sunny day with a high of 31 degrees and a perfect 8-10 knot breeze with light chop made for a champagne sailing day. Lucky for me we were at Swans Yacht Sales located in the Whitby Marina on Lake Ontario, trying out the Dufour 460 Grand Large, a flag ship for the midrange Dufour boats. With an overall length of 46’5” and a hull length of 44 ‘, this boat is majestic, not only in size, but also in elegance with timeless and contemporary style. 

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Destinations

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Centrally located between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Paraty (pronounced “Para-chee”) holds the key to many natural wonders you can only discover by boat.

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Marine Products

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