Classics: Gravenhurst’s Floating Art

Oct 12, 2023

– by Jeff Evans, Sarnia Power and Sail Squadron

Few summer activities can beat those that involve water and boats.

Our typical summer includes hanging out at the marina in Goderich while using our boat as a cottage, enjoying the company of dock mates. For a few weeks each year, we typically cruise the North Channel and Georgian Bay in search of picturesque anchorages. This past summer, we added an additional activity: we took in a classic in-water boat show.

Cecily and I have two 1970s vintage Chrysler boats that we restored over the years. They come out on rare occasions to play along Lake Huron’s Goderich shoreline. Part of the restoration fun is making new friends on Facebook groups who have a similar passion. This spring, some Ontario group members suggested that we meet face-to-face at the 2023 antique boat show in Gravenhurst, Ontario. The idea quickly grew legs.

The antique and classic boat show in Gravenhurst, hosted by the Antique and Classic Boat Society-Toronto (ACBS.ca), is Canada’s largest in-water show with thousands of visitors who come to admire the fantastic vessels. Mike Gridley, chair of the event, reached out to me to see if I wanted to participate. We quickly signed up to attend and, on July 6th, hauled Yellowbird III – a 1976 Chrysler Commando – and Blue Moves – a 1974 Chrysler Conqueror – to Gravenhurst. This became a family affair with my brother lending us his camper trailer for sleeping (thanks Neil) and our daughter, son and his girlfriend joining us as crew.

Once there, we launched the boats in preparation for a pre-show cruise up Lake Muskoka with other vintage boats. Friday’s weather was perfect and the cruise alongside beautiful classic vessels was a real treat not soon forgotten. That afternoon, we polished up the boats for Saturday’s show as we watched a multitude of vintage boats from Canada and the U.S. arrive by land and water along with vendors and exhibits. I could now appreciate the magnitude of the event.

Also arriving were other Chrysler enthusiasts with their boats and displays in tow. Of particular interest was Drew’s mint 1968 Chrysler Charger boat, outboard motor, and trailer in original condition (not restored) that could have come off the showroom floor. Drew’s rig was so spectacular that it won Best In Show.

This account is taken from the Porthole supplement in October’s issue of Canadian Yachting.  Love it!

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