Vintage Boats: 1953 Cedar-strip Boat by Ross Boats in Orillia

Last weekend we were out boating with my parents on Sturgeon Lake near Bobcaygen and we docked right next to a gorgeous vintage boat made of cedar strip. After tying the lines my father immediately went over and started asking the owner questions.

Vintage Boats - Ross Boats 1953 Made In Orillia Ont.

Vintage Boats – Ross Boats 1953 Made In Orillia Ont.

When he returned he was all excited telling us how the man is selling it and completely restored the boat from the ground up. So I got a closer look and asked if he was alright with me taking photos and asking him some questions. The conversation went like this:


Who made it?

A boat builder from in Orillia in the 50s, Ross Boats. Most of the run-abouts you see around here are all Canadian…back then you had Peterborough Boats, Canadiana Boats and Chestnut Boats, made in Nova Scotia. At the Peterborough boat company originally there were two or three of them and they would fight back and forth, they’d separate and make boats, get back together and makes boats. It was crazy, quite a war going on.

Vintage Boats - Ross Boats 1953 Made In Orillia Ont.

Vintage Boats – Ross Boats 1953 Made In Orillia Ont.

To treat that wood for water, do you have to put anything on it?

The hull has a fiberglass coating on it the rest is varnish. Now the varnishes that are out there in this day and age are not what they had in the 50s. I haven’t touched it in two years now, it needs a little sanding and a freshening up but I haven’t touched it. The ultraviolet protection in the varnishes now is just the ultimate, it’s $48 a quart!

What type of wood is it?


Why did they make it with Cedar?

I think it’s because it lasts and doesn’t rot and because it’s easy to steam and fit. Fairly easy. You curse a few times when you break a piece.

My dad was saying you have another one of these boats?

I have three. And another one to repair.

Do you actually refurbish them and re-sell them?

I  haven’t sold any yet, this one is actually for sale though. I was telling your dad I want $6500 is the least I would go for. I wouldn’t even take $6000!

Vintage Boats - Ross Boats 1953 Made In Orillia Ont.

Vintage Boats – Ross Boats 1953 Made In Orillia Ont.

Well there’s a lot of labor involved and time that went into it I’m sure.

And you just can’t buy them! It’s 60 years old. I’m 60. And the boat is 60.

Is that part of the reason you bought it?

No. When I found it it was the style I wanted, and it’ll handle pretty rough water.

No kidding!

(his wife chimes in)

It doesn’t sound like it when you’re in it.

(he interjects)

…well it’s like wood, and you hear it, but it’ll cut through, it’ll go. It goes about…a friend of mine has a similar boat to the one you pulled up in and we were going side by side and he said we were doing 35mph so that’s good enough for me.

That’s fast! Wow. Thank you. Nice work and thanks for taking the time.

Later that day I realized I never got the man’s name. So if you’re ever in the Kawartha Lakes region keep your eyes on the water and you might be lucky enough to see a glimpse of what 1953 might look like cutting through the water. This one was like a dream.

More Vintage Articles

1. David Hicks The Interior Design Legend of the 1960s

2. The Florida Mansion That is Lost In Time

3. Marcel Breuer’s Wassily Chair

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>