THE MUSKOKAN — It may seem strange, but Tim Butson is no longer affiliated with the iconic boat shop that bears his family name.
BUTSON IS BACK.
Tim Butson shows off his 19' foot Gentleman Racer at his new Bracebridge boat shop - Tim Butson Wooden Boat Builder.
Photo by Roland Cilliers
The boat builder, who has roughly 30 years of experience in the business, has decided to strike out on his own with a new Bracebridge-located shop called Tim Butson Wooden Boat Builder.
Butson split with the Port Carling based Butson’s Boat Shop Ltd. shortly after the business was bought by Jeremy Fowler and Kathy McCarthy. In regards to the split, Butson said only, “That was a partnership, that, like some partnerships, didn’t work out.”
That hasn’t slowed the boat builder down one bit, though.
“I’m still doing repairs, restorations and refinishes. It’s the stuff I’ve always done, just on a much smaller scale. I do things the way we’ve always done it and treat people the way we like to treat people.”
As the sixth generation of boat builders in his family, Butson believes his attraction to working on wooden boats is innate. The family first got involved with building boats back in 1839 in Cornwall, England.
Butson said he enjoys every aspect of boatbuilding. Even after decades of working with them he still enjoys both the physical work and the stories and history that often go hand-in-hand with an old wooden boat.
The new shop prides itself on using what Butson calls traditional building. He said that if something has lasted for half a century or more, clearly it was built properly, and there’s no need to change much.
“Our boats are repaired or restored or even built new basically the way they would have been done 100 years ago or 50 years ago. We don’t use epoxies or plywoods or all this kind of stuff. We basically build them as they were originally done,” Butson said.
In many cases a boat restored at the shop can actually come out of the restoration in better shape than it was the day it was first built. Butson said the original builders never intended their boats to still be in use 100 years later. Today, when they restore boats, more attention and care is taken to keep the machine working at top condition well into the future.
Butson credits Muskoka’s continued passion for wooden boats to the nostalgia many feel for the now antique watercraft. He said many older families have a lot of positive Muskoka memories that are closely tied to the wooden boat their father or grandfather may have owned when they were children.
“Muskoka is so well known for wood. Even though we’re building huge cottages and people are buying big Cobalts and Sea Rays it’s still, you’ve got to buy an old wooden boat to be part of the cocktail cruise. It’s just that attraction to the old,” Butson said.
In addition to the building, custom designing, repairing and restoring that Butson does for customers, he is also available to help out first-time buyers. Buying your first wooden boat can be an intimidating experience and, in the past, buyers have been surprised to find that their immaculate looking boat actually requires extensive repairs. To prevent this, Butson can be called upon to survey a prospective wooden boat purchase.
“I tend to know where to look for problems,” said Butson. “Usually, any boat today, insurance wise, has to be surveyed because insurance companies have been caught over the years. It’s really too bad, so its really just buyer beware.”