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Penetanguishene marine history: Gidley Boats, a sketch (5 photos)

Any famous boats built by Gidley? Kitty Hawk, Arnebee, Mona IV and the list goes on

Much has been written about Gidley Boats and a debt is owed to Joe  Fossey and his working paper on this storied boat builder.

The six Gidley brothers likely were all involved in one form of marine work or another, states Fossey.

Henry E. Gidley likely founded his company, Georgian Bay Boat &  Canoe Company, on what is now Beck Boulevard, circa 1895. He rented premises for some years until he purchased part of the building shared with Adams Launch and Engine Co.

Fossey indicates that there can be confusion in sorting out the Gidley  boys.

Henry departed for Detroit around 1911 for a career in real estate. Brother JG Gidley & Son ran Gidley Boat Co., in Midland which was  to become the Midland Boat Works. Alfred Gidley bought Little Rock Island in the 20s and built the original Picnic Island Store.

Any famous boats built by Gidley? Kitty Hawk, Arnebee, Mona IV and the list goes on.

Orville Wright ordered the Kitty Hawk and it plied the  water here for years, fell into disrepair up at Franceville and was then carefully restored by Guy Johnstone.

The Twenties were good years for Gidley. Then came depression,  financial difficulty and, finally, consolidation with Grew Boats out of Jackson’s Point.

The Gidley story includes the building of Fairmiles and another  incarnation entirely, as Grew Boats, with pleasure craft being  constructed in Penetang until late 1989. A story for another day.

René Hackstetter July 29, 2021.  

Credits: “ Gidley, Grew and Bonnie Boat Company History. Joe Fossey.  2006.