Carleton Place Paddlers Create Enviable Records, by Howard M. Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 09 August, 1962

Some recollections of regattas and racing accomplishments of former generations of paddlers of the Carleton Place Canoe Club are concluded in this number.  A previous installment told of the starting of the town’s long flourishing club and of the first Canadian Canoe Association contests at Brockville and Carleton Place.  The publishing of these stories coincides with an appeal for support and cash donations needed to assist this institution in continuing its record of athletic and recreational service for large numbers of the younger residents of the town.

Club Regatta

The Carleton Place Canoe Club in 1905 held what was said to be its first regatta for local competitors only.  Paddling honors were shared were shared with those of motor boating and other water sports.  The paddling events in addition to the green and the open singles, tandems and fours, were boys tandem, ladies tandem and mixed tandem races and two war canoe races, one a straightaway half mile, the other a half mile with turn.  Added with the great novelty of a motorboat race were a tub race, a crab race, a hurry-scurry, a swimming race and a gunwale race.

In the war canoe events the crew in the old canoe under captain Ab Keyworth won the straightaway half mile, and the new crew under Captain Jack Welsh the quarter mile and return.  First and second in the open single blade race were Archie McPhee and Archie Knox.  The judges were Walter McIlquham, George H. Findlay, Mr. Daniel A. Muirhead and W. M. Dunham.  Other officials included timekeepers Andrew Neilson and William J. Muirhead, clerk of course John Bennett, starter Walter H. Dummert and referee Robert Patterson.

Motorboat Race of 1905

The gasoline-powered motorboat was coming into its own.  Durably built, as by the Carleton Place boat works, on rounded seaworthy lines, later superseded in popularity by an elongated torpedo style , the inboard motorboat started its reign in a generation before the outboard marine engine had helped to lay the foundations of the present North American boating boom.

The Herald’s description of the scene at the Town Park and the motorboat race included:

“The club house and the old mill were decorated with flags and bunting.  A temporary platform was arranged on one of the old piers for the judges, whilst the Town Band furnished music from one of the galleries of the sawmill.  The river was covered with boats of all descriptions from steamers and launches to canoes.

In the race for gasoline launches seven were entered.  There are some ten or twelve of these handsome boats on the river, nearly all built at the Gillies launch works of this town.  Competitors in the race were the Alice, 5 h.p. – J. H. Gardiner ; the Ariel, 4 h.p. – R. Patterson ; the Marjorie, 4 h.p. – F. McDiarmid ; the Iolanthe, 4 h.p. – A. H. Edwards ; the Rose, 5 h.p. – W. J. Hammond ; the Zephyr, 3 h.p. – Cram and Burgess ; the Wawanessa, 3.5 h.p. – McAllister Brothers.

Within seconds from the gun fire all were under way.  The Ariel, Marjoire and Alice very soon forged ahead.  Mr. Cram in the Zephyr undertook to cut off a corner in the river channel and became entangled in the weeds and was out of it before reaching the lake.  The turning buoy was placed beyond Rocky Point, some three miles up the lake, and the Ariel was the first to show her nose around the flag.  In rounding the sunken rock at Lookout Point a foul was claimed against the Alice but was later withdrawn as her pilot was a little inexperienced with the channel and the foul was unintentional.

The silk trophy flag, donated by James Gillies, Esq., goes to Mr. Gardiner.  The time taken for the round trip was forty minutes.  Robert Patterson’s Ariel came in second.  Third place went to Fred McDiarmid in the Marjorie.  Much enthusiasm was shown by the spectators.  Each boat as she crossed the line was greeted with hearty cheers and waving handkerchiefs, and much whistle blowing from the excursion steamers and horn blasts from the smaller boats.

Commodore Harry Hicken and the officers of the club are to be congratulated on the success of their efforts.”

Great War Canoe Crews

A cheering crowd, a civic reception and a torchlight procession welcomed the Carleton Place paddlers two years later on their return from Montreal.  Competing successfully against larger clubs in the annual Canadian Canoe Association meet, they had won first positions in three events including the coveted half mile war canoe championship.  Photographs of the memorable half mile finish of 1907 made by Carleton Place photographer W. J. Hammond remain in existence.

The members of the winning crew were Carl Lamb, stroke, William Knox, Howard Morphy, Archie McCaw, John Hockenhull, M. Ryan, Wilfred Hunter, Fred Milliken, Andrew Dunlop, Gilbert Gordon, Mark Lamb, T. Winthrop, Neil McGregor, Andrew Robertson, and Ab. Keyworth, captain.

Canadian war canoe championships were won again by Carleton Place in 1920 and 1938.  The town club officials were hosts for the 1920 national regatta, held on the Lake Park course.  In the Northern Division eliminations a strong Carleton Place club had won the senior events including both war canoe races and the senior fours, on the Ottawa New Edinburgh Canoe Club’s home waters, when seven crews had contended for the half mile war canoe win and six for the mile.

Without the annual weed cutting which has been carried on for many years through the Mississippi Lakes Association of Carleton Place, weedy areas on the course hampered paddlers despite the best efforts of Mr. Willis, who had sought to clear it by dragging with the steamboat the Commodore.  The attendance at Lake Park was said to be the largest ever assembled for a regatta here.  On hand to furnish musical entertainment between races was the Regimental Band from Perth.

Race starts were standing starts from a row of logging booms extended at Lookout Point, lower extremity of the Lake Park peninsula and downstream end of the half mile course.  The senior fours winners were the Carleton Place crew of Ernie Halpenny, Allan Call, Gib Gordon and Herb Bennett.  Ottawa New Edinburgh and Toronto Balmy Beach were tied to lead in aggregate regatta points.

The Carleton Place half mile war canoe win was at a time of 3:17  Lake weeds robbed the outstanding Carleton Place paddlers of an additional war canoe trophy when in the mile race after a late start at the Nagle shore they ran into a mass of weeds on the favoured inside course, still ending a close second to Toronto Parkdale’s time of 6:41.  The paddlers of the great Carleton Place crew of 1920 were E. Halpenny, P. Dunlop, R. Munshaw, D. Findlay, A. Ashfield, E. Bennett, W. Phillips, L. Hockenhull, A. Call, H. Bennett, R. Waugh, W. Bush, C. Carr, H. Sinclair, and G. Gordon, Captain.

Now for over sixty years succeeding generations of Carleton Place paddlers have pursued the historic sport which in this country originated with North America’s first native citizens and is one of Canada’s few thriving exclusively amateur sports of today.  The town’s canoe club – like the Lakes Association’s recently suspended maintenance of the Mississippi waterways which the club uses – is a distinctive community asset which appears to merit, in the interests of the town and its residents, a wide measure of public backing, recognition and support.

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