Muskoka’s fastest boat nearing completion
MUSKOKA — Not every piece of history belongs in a museum.
The first boat to ever travel at speeds in excess of 320 kilometres per hour shouldn’t be getting dusty on a museum shelf – it needs to be on the water. That’s why an international team is working to restore the little known piece of Canadian history that is Miss Canada IV.
Built in Gravenhurst by Greavette in the winter of 1948 and 1949, the boat won three world championships and broke two speed records.
Jamie Smith, restoration team co-ordinator, said restoration of the boat, which sat in an Ingersoll museum for two decades, is going well and should be ready for the lake this year.
“We’re on schedule,” said Smith. “I think we will be able to run the boat as per our plan sometime in late August or September. We actually got a video this week of the engine running in England. We’ll have a better video shortly and well post that to our group of friends.”
The boat is an impressive machine and it was run by a notable, and at the time unusual, racing team. At the controls of the boat was driven Harold Wilson. At his side on the boat was riding mechanic and university sweetheart, Lorna Wilson.
Together, over the course of a remarkable boating career, they became boat racing celebrities at a time when boat races were one of the biggest sports spectacles. Their largest races drew more than 325,000 fans, with millions more listening on the radio.
“It’s a great Canadian story because the Wilson Racing Team brought the world to understand we had great boat racing in Canada and good boat racing people,” Smith said.
Before Miss Canada IV touches water again, it first needs to be restored. After returning to Gravenhurst in 2011, the famed boat was brought to the boat shop of Tom Adams. Presently, the restoration team is working on the bottom of the boat but will shortly be flipping it over to work on the decking and dashboard. Meanwhile, another team of experts at Flight Engineering, a British restoration company that specializes in Rolls Royce Merlin and Griffon engines, has been working on the mechanical components. The engine, a Griffon Mark 58, is expected to arrive from the United Kingdom in July.
While the exact details have yet to be ironed out, the plan is to make the completed Miss Canada IV available for the public to see.
With it’s highs and lows, likeable characters and world recognition, the full story of the team’s success sounds like something out of a movie .That’s probably why Muskoka Film Works’ decided to make a film about the Wilson Racing Team. Titled Harold and Lorna, the movie is expected to hold its world premiere in late 2012.
For more information on the Miss Canada IV, the Wilson Racing Team or on the progress of the movie visit the website at www.haroldandlornamovie.com.