by Anne McClelland member of the Toronto chapter
The Duke of Hogwood was built in 1951 by Duke Boats of Port Carling, Ontario, Canada. It is 17′ and the only Playmate to have the larger Greymarine Phantom 4-45hp engine, instead of the usual Buchanan 25hp Our family purchased the boat in 1954 from Aud & Claude Duke.
From the 1950’s to the 1970’s, our Duke became known as “the most towed boat in Muskoka”. This enabled us to meet many new friends as we paddled to the nearest dock or flagged down a passing boater. Her last voyage in the mid 1970’s, was the familiar sight of Mother reading her book in the Duke, as it was being towed to Port Carling by Father at the helm of our family Grew. Half way up the Port Carling river, the Grew broke down, the Duke miraculously re-started, and towed the Grew to the shop. Soon after, the Duke went to dry dock.
In October 1995, Stan Hunter towed our very holey Duke in a blue tarp to his shop in our mutual bay to begin her re-birth. Over the winter, Stan beautifully re-furbished the Duke of Hogwood, and we were able to enter her into the ACBS annual Boat Show in July of 1996 in Gravenhurst, Ontario.
Many fun outings continued from 1996 onward. She entered the ACBS boat show for a few more years. I never put it in to be judged, as it was much more of a pleasure to drive, rather than be shown. It still continued to be towed a few times, but usually with a fun group. No one ever left the dock without a cell phone, their own personal paddle, jacket, life jacket, snacks, and any other items one would need to be lost on the lakes for a day!
Lake Muskoka was its main home, but we did go through the Port Carling locks and into Lake Rosseau and Lake Joe. Lunch was always on the list, and with many lovely hotels and restaurants to visit, we were certainly well entertained along the way. As wooden boats are plentiful on our three lakes, many people would wave and help us land, when needed!
Owning the Duke has enriched my Muskoka life. It is a slow but wonderful journey. You see so much more at a slow speed and are much closer to the water. Keep your paddles close, and your bailing cans closer! Happy Boating!