MUSKOKA SUN - When the Port Sandfield Marina opened in 1952, it was clearly needed.
Port Sandfield Marina celebrated 60 years in business this summer. Owners and members of the family gathered with friends and various guests earlier this summer to mark the occasion. Among those present were, from left, Nada Blair, Jonathan Blair, JJ Blair, Pam Blair, Lois Mortimer and Alf Mortimer.
Photo by Andrew Wagner-Chazalon
There hadn’t been a marina on that part of Lake Rosseau for several years, and many boat owners had been neglecting routine maintenance.
“The boats that were coming in were in rough shape,” said Alf Mortimer, who, along with his wife Lois and partner Garth Foreman, bought an older facility and turned it into Port Sandfield Marina.
Many of the boats needed complete motor rebuilds — so many, in fact, that the marina partnered with a garage in Orillia to help handle the volume. Mortimer would remove the motors from the boat, ship them to Orillia for rebuilding, then reinstall them.
“That first year, if I remember right, we did 15 motors,” Mortimer said. The next year they did 30, then another 30 the year after.
The rebuilding work petered out after that, but it had its effect: the steady stream of work on top of regular repairs had given the marina the financial boost it needed to survive.
Sixty years later, it’s doing more than surviving: it’s thriving in the hands of Jonathan and Nada Blair, the third generation of the family to run the operation.
Alf and Lois Mortimer, along with other relatives, friends and clients, were on hand at the marina earlier this summer to mark the operation’s diamond jubilee.
The event was also a chance to unveil the new line of boats from Sea Ray, a company that Port Sandfield Marina has partnered with since the early 1960s.
As waiters carried hors d’oeuvres and wine and a jazz band performed in the large white tent on the site, the guests of honour — gleaming 2012 boats from Sea Ray — sat proudly to the side. Among the boats was a new 250 SLX equipped with Quiet Ride technology that dramatically reduces noise pollution. Port Sandfield is the first dealer in Canada to have the new boat.
“They’re good people to deal with,” Mortimer said to explain the long-standing relationship with Sea Ray.
From its early days, Port Sandfield Marina has benefited from its location adjacent to the canal that links Lake Rosseau and Lake Joseph.
“There wasn’t much land here, but I figured boaters from this lake had to go past us to get into that lake,” Mortimer said.
The marina now sells a broad range of supplies and gear, everything from fuel and boating gear to clothing, gifts and other goods sold in two stores on the site, as well as new and used boats.
Over the years the marina has also maintained its reputation for doing repair work, including repairs to classic wooden boats like those that were coming to the marina in 1952.
“There aren’t too many of us who still know how to work on the old motors,” said Mortimer.