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March 15, 2013

Callander Heritage Cruiser Revisited

On October 18, 2002 I wrote an article profiling a famous refurbished John B. Smith cruiser with a long history (Goodle Heritage Perspectives for full article). I wondered what happened to the cruiser until I met Callander resident Paul Baker recently and he brought me up to date on the boat’s current status after years in storage. Before that I will repeat some of my research from the first article written when the refurbished boat was launched to considerable fanfare in 2002. 

The Jingo” (by definition “someone who boldly supports his country”) came to Callander when purchased by the John B. Smith Lumber Company (1890-1967). 

It was used by the large Smith family for business and pleasure for many years. After the Smith mill closed in 1967, after 77 years on Callander Bay, the boat went into storage until purchased (in bad shape) by Harry Hughes from North Bay and rebuilt and used on Trout Lake. In 1985 Kelly Mosely-Williams bought the boat and carried out a major rebuilding operation, with a new engine and an enclosed cabin to use it as a charter boat. 

The Jingo cruiser in its heyday.  Submitted photo

His company got into financial trouble and the boat was put into storage for years, with Jeff Campbell, a Callander car and boat restoration hobbyist. He did some work on it and intended to launch it at some point in the future. Dutch Shultz expressed an interest in the boat as a part of his tourist business.Campbell   sold the boat to Dutch. Dutch tried the boat in the water a couple of times pending the official launch  on Oct18,2002. As the word got out about the boat the Shultz family began to hear stories about the boats history and the Smith family, adding to the adventure. 

John B. Smith, a Scotsman, came to Canada in the 1850s and started a lumber business that became highly successful and, remarkably stayed in the family until the 1960s. John B. Smith came to Canada with two friends, Robert Christie who went on to form the Christie Bread company, and Robert Jaffray who was president of the Toronto Globe from 1882-1915 and became a senator.  John B. Smith’s second of three marriages was to a Jaffrey daughter. He had a total of 12 children. 

The Jaffray and Christie names have come down through the generations as first names. One of the last longstanding Smiths who lived in Callander and managed the local operation was Christie Smith (1902-1989) who had two sons, Christie and Jaffray. Christie and Jaffray and a cousin Doug Smith were invited to a launch that was aborted two weeks earlier due to weather, but Jaffray could not be contacted. He and his family were eventually contacted and an informative and pleasurable reunion took place around the boat. 

Jaffray knew the smallest detail of the boat’s structure and history and suggested that a Smith family reunion centred around the Jingo might be in order. Among the local people with stories about the Jingo was Yvette Boyce, who cooked for the Smiths at their cottage and on the Jingo for a decade, and had fond memories of those days. The late Captain “Mac” Mason, who captained the Smith company’s Seagull  and the alligator the Woodchuck, took his family on the boat regularly. Masons wife Evelyn and children Linda and Heather have many wonderful memories of those days. Both Yvette and the Masons were on hand for the launch and were part of the first official Ride.


Elizabeth Hughes sister of Harry Hughes who helped in the major restoration of the Jingo in 1973 noticed the stored Jingo when in Callander in the summer of 2012. When she later checked on it she found the owner wasn’t interested in the boat. Elizabeth and Callanders  contacted Scott Dunsmoor of the Antique and Classic Boat Society – Toronto Chapter.  Dunsmoor was familiar with Ditchburns and Scott contacted Malcolm Black President of the Kids and Classic Boatshop Museum for help. His organization works with youth-at-risk kids restoring boats. Malcolm and friends were interested in the Jingo and soon had it on its way to their shop in Toronto The restoration of the hull was bigger than they could handle and it will be done professionally. The kids will do detail work on the deck and cabin etc. Funds are being sought to help with the project. Contact Malcolm Black at 905-873-0141 or by email at blackbox@cogeco.ca to help. Locals  looking forward to a possible local visit of the boat here in the future for all to see.  

The Callander Bay Heritage Day Museum exhibit. Submitted photo

Callander Kids Activity Day

On Saturday, February 23rd a fundraiser for an extension to the Callander library took place at the Community Centre. The Callander Bay Heritage Museum prepared a fascinating display of a young girl’s experience growing up in the bush in Algonquin Park in the 1920s.  I was pleased to see the display was based on my book My Childhood in the Bush the story of Rebecca Atkins life from age 3-9 in Algonquin Park where her father was station manager on the CNR at Brent . Curator Carol Pretty blew up photos from the book, added text items and  typical artefacts from the era from the Museum collection – a very creative endeavour. 

 Coincidentally during  my research on the book I visited a granddaughter of Rebecca Atkins who lived in Callander just down the street from the library. 

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