Ditchburn Boat

lizalady

Bellingham, United States

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Artist's Description

In the day of the real craftsmanship

The name Ditchburn has been known as the Cadilliac of boats. The Ditchburn family seemed to have boatbuilding in their blood. William Ditchburn, naval advisor to Queen Elizabeth at the time of the Spanish Armada. The Ditchburn boatbuilding tradition carried on in England for centuries, with a Ditchburn boatyard in Blackwall. The Ditchburn boatyards produced the schooner yacht, Volna, built for the Grand Duke Constantine of Russia in 1818.
In 1869, four Ditchburn descendants, brothers William, Henry, John and Arthur, emigrated to Canada, then on the pioneer frontier of Canada. The resort industry in Muskoka began to flourish, the Ditchburn brothers turned to their family tradition of boatbuilding. The Ditchburns began to construct rowboats. By 1874, the Ditchburns boasted a livery fleet of 24 rowboats that were rented out to visitors.
The Ditchburns, moved operations to Gravenhurst in 1890, where much more traffic passed through. The newly formed H. Ditchburn Co. built its yards in the Muskoka Wharf area.
Ditchburn continued to build small, unpowered boats at the new plant, and Henry was joined by his nephew Herb Ditchburn and master-builder Tom Greavette. It’s not sure as to when the Ditchburn plant turned out its first gasoline-powered boat. Maybe a primitive launch built by Henry in 1893, but most believe that the first power boats were built around 1898.
By 1904, Henry was aging rapidly, and he handed control of the boatyard over to his nephew Herb, who bought out Henry’s interest a few years later. In June of 1907, the business was incorporated as the H. Ditchburn Boat Manufacturing Company Ltd. Henry retired from the business completely in 1910, and died in 1912.
Internal combustion engine technology improved, the mainstay of Ditchburn’s early works — skiffs and canoes — was greatly diminished by the focus on launches, yachts and speedboats. Few Ditchburn unpowered craft remain on the lakes today, making them extremely valuable, but a Ditchburn catalogue from 1908 offers an 18’ varnished cedar canoe for $56 — paddles included!
Herb Ditchburn and Thomas Greavette stepped up Ditchburn production, creating custom launches for the wealthy families. In 1908, Ditchburn Boats offered a variety of launches in lengths up to 45 feet.
In August of 1915, the Ditchburn plant at the Gravenhurst Wharf was destroyed by fire. A new brick plant that was built in 1916.
The 1920s, the Ditchburn plants were usually building six boats under construction at once, in varying stages of completion. Throughout the 1920s and early 1930s, Ditchburn produced some of the most beautiful boats on the lakes today. Then the Great Depression hit during the middle of this and like hundreds of companies across North America, Ditchburn suffered tremendously.
In July of 1930, Ditchburn had its first layoff, a shock to the town of Gravenhurst. By 1931 more than two thirds of the employees had been laid off. Over the ’30s, Herbert Ditchburn tried to salvage the boatbuilding company, but with little success. Constantly in debt, Herb struggled to produce a few craft, but in 1938 he left Gravenhurst for good, and eventually died in 1950.

Camera Model Canon EOS 5D
Shooting Mode Aperture-Priority AE
Tv( Shutter Speed ) 1/25
Av( Aperture Value ) 14.0
ISO Speed 100
Lens EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM
Focal Length 60.0 mm

Artwork Comments

  • Lynn Bawden
  • lizalady
  • Lynn Bawden
  • lizalady
  • Lynn Bawden
  • lizalady
  • Lynn Bawden
  • WildBillPho
  • lizalady
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