On Jan. 6, 2015, the Innisfil Historical Society unveiled the "Emily May" a replica of the paddlewheeler that plied Lake Simcoe in the late 1800s. The unveiling took place in the lobby of the Innisfil Town Hall where the boat will be permanently on display.
I welcomed everyone, and then the builder of the boat, Don Houghton, and his good friend Bill Hester unveiled the model. There was a gasp as the members and people from the community took in the sight.
The fact is that it really does take your breath away. First of all it is the size of the replica. The model is 10 feet long , two feet wide and 44 inches high. The handsome display case is stainless steel and shatter proof glass. There are three plaques inside the case telling a little of the history etc of the Emily May.
A member of the Innisfil Historical Society , Donna Wice then gave a brief history of the Emily May. Here is what she said:
"Captain Isaac May commissioned the Emily May to be built at Belle Ewart in 1861 by Captain Hugh Chisholm. The craft was christened after May's eldest daughter, Emily, and completed her maiden voyage on July 12 ,1861.
The Emily May was described as a splendid side wheeler and a handsome, impressive vessel. At 151 feet in length with a 24 foot beam, this sizeable sturdy steamer was capable of up to 14 miles per hour.
She had two careers during her 22 years of existence, the first as a reliable transportation link. During this career, she plied the waters of Lake Simcoe, connecting with the morning train at Belle Ewart and carrying freight, passengers and mail up the east and west sides of the lake, with the principal ports of call at Barrie, Hawkestone, Orillia, Beaverton and Jackson's Point.
In 1871, following the purchase of this graceful boat by the Northern Railway, she was renamed The Lady of the Lakes. Thus began her second and final stage, gaining popularity as an excursion steamer, handling crowds of up to 400 for daily trips or evening soirees.....Often referred to as a palace steamer.
It was the era of chivalry, men in top hats, graceful, stately women in flowing gowns, admiring the scenery, dancing.
By the late 1870s, freight and passenger traffic on the lake was on a decline and profits became scarce. As well, the Lady no longer enjoyed a monopoly on the lake, with the Ida Burton and the Enterprise competing for trade.
She remained in service until 1883, when she was decommissioned. To this day, parts of her hull lie near the shoreline of Belle Ewart."
Donna spoke more about the beginning of Innisfil and she cleverly inserted bits of humour throughout her talk. Everyone present enjoyed her presentation.
The program included thanks to the principal donors who made the project possible. They were: Bill Hester, Ted and Barb Dallimore of Sandy Cove Marine Services, and Doris Baxter and Wilson Forbes of Monto Reno Marine Limited.
The program concluded after musical numbers by Lloyd Preston and Al Beardsall. Ginger ale (bubbly) was served in champagne glasses and gingerbread sailors and the Chips (Ships) Ahoy cookies that were served were a hit.
Some members of the Innisfil Historical Society dressed up for the occasion and this added to the spirit and tone of the day. It was a wonderful event for the members and community of Innisfil.Bravo to the Innisfil Historical Society and especially to Don Houghton the craftsman of the Emily May!
President, Innisfil Historical Society
Photos courtesy of Tony Bellissimo
Blogger Marj Mossman (left) and Barb Love (with microphone) introduce the "Emily May" replica at Innisfil Town Hall.
There was a large turnout for the unveiling on Jan. 6.
Period clothing added to the atmosphere of the event.