Sunday, December 23, 2007

Restoration of the Argyle II

I am the Secretary-Treasurer on the Argyle II Restoration Committee, a group of people from the Kenora, Ontario area who have dedicated them selves to the salvage and restoration of the old wooden boat Argyle II. This boat once plied the waters of the Lake of the Woods as a transportation vessel - essentially a "water bus" that took people who could not afford their own boat out on to the lake to enjoy its natural beauty and recreational opportunities.

One of the major trips was the excursion to Coney Island Beach, just a 5 minute ride from the Kenora Harbourfront where you could spend the day swimming, playing on the beach and enjoying a beautiful summer day. I went on the boat at least once when I was a child and perhaps more - I can't remember exactly how many times to tell you the truth.

Regardless, I do remember what a thrill it was to step on this boat's deck and watch as we pulled away from the dock and embarked on the short trip to Coney Island. The fare was around $1.25 per person or something ridiculously cheap like that. The boat was manufactured in 1936 and plied the waters as a commercial transport for almost 5 decades. It was sold to private interests in the mid-1970s and the folks who bought it used it as a cottage on the water for several years. However, the boat eventually fell into disrepair and the owners had planned to scuttle it in September of 2007. This is what the boat looks like today.

After looking at this image, you may be thinking I and the other people on the Committee are crazy - there is nothing to save. Hardly, the superstructure of the boat is still in fairly good shape and the steel ribbings on which the carvel wood plankings are attached is in very good condition. We do realize that it is and will be, a monumental effort to restore the boat and that it will take tons of sweat equity, time and money to do but what the hell, anything in life that is worthwhile is usually challenging - otherwise it would not have been worthwhile in the first place.

Our first task is to prepare a business plan for the salvage of the boat and present it to and have it accepted by, the current owners. We have to float the boat from its current location on Channel Island on Lake of the Woods to a drydock location at Kenora Forest Products in Keewatin. Once accepted by the current owners of the boat, we plan to execute the salvage phase of our plan between May 1 and May 14,2008.

As a Committee, we are in the process of incorporating as a not-for-profit entitiy and we hope to also obtain charitable status so we can provide tax receipts to people who give donations towards the restoration effort.

We are in need of cash right now however - and have raised about $6000.00 so far - but we estimate the salvage effort alone will cost between $10,000.00 to $12,000.00 to pull off. So if you agree this is a worthwhile endeavour, why not consider sending a donation to our Committee? Cheques can be made out to the "Argyle II Restoration Fund" and mailed to the Argyle II Restoration Committee, c/o Box 647, Kenora, Ontario, P9N 3X6.

As a token of our Committee's appreciation, anyone who makes a donation of $250.00 or more will receive a limited edition, 16x20 inch signed and numbered print of the Argyle in her hey day taken by re-knowned Kenora photographer Tom Thomson. There is a value to history and to preserving things from the past so why not consider lending us a hand?