In 1991, I was watching a story about an old sailing boat on Mike Duffy’s show, Sunday Edition. The boat was said to be the oldest registered sailboat called “CANADA”, the original, the for runner to, CANADA 1 and CANADA 2. It was built in 1896, 1897. It raced and sailed out of St. Johns, New Brunswick for 68 consecutive years, winning many races.
In 1968, it needed extensive repairs and she was sold to Major William Gamblin, he moved it and his family to Carleton Place Ont. by rail. He intended on restoring her but never got around to it. In 1984 he and his wife retired on another sailboat in the Caribbean. He gave the “CANADA” to the Lanark branch of the Navy League, they tried to raise the then $150,000 to restore her but they were unable, they traded her to a boat builder in Kemptville, Ont. for repairs to their other boat called the “LANARK”
When I saw it in 1991 it was in a sorry state, badly needing to be rebuilt. At the time we were in the height of National Unity. I immediately came up with the idea to rebuild the CANADA BOAT as a symbol of rebuilding the country, ” REBUILDING THE DREAM CALLED CANADA”.
The project and story received all kinds of media attention, National News, at leased six times. We produced a group song called ” REBUILDING THE DREAM CALLED CANADA”.
The second year the group called “ORDINARY CANADIANS” were invited to start the evening performance on Parliament Hill on CANADA DAY.
We lobbied many Canadian businesses, Members of Parliament, three Prime Ministers, the Governor General and even the Queen, trying to raise the money to restore CANADA.
Raising the money was a struggle. We worked on the project for three years, then another group took over.
The new group started the restoration using volunteers and literally disassembled the boat and built new ribbs. After struggling to raise money for ten years they gave up, auctioned off the parts and closed down their organization. Ironically, a friend of mine, Bill Bagg who is an antique dealer went to the auction and bought most of the parts, anchor, port holes, shelves, head, stove, hatch complete with the name CANADA on it. They ended up in Bill’s truck at the end of my driveway.
I suggested that we contact a museum to see if they were interested in the documentary and artifacts.