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An Evolution of Rowboats by Kim (Taylor) Bloomer

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

The Casey Dink  When I was a little boy, there were two large steamers that made the trip up and down the North Channel. Known as the Manitoulin and the Algoma, they ferried passengers, mail, and freight weekly from Sault Ste. Marie to Parry Sound in Georgian Bay. Each time the big steamers came by there was cause for great excitement because their size created enormous waves that crashed to shore, rocking both docks and small boys alike. One summer, though, when I was about 8 or 9, I got the surprise of my life as I watched with glee and then with some consternation as the mighty Manitoulin veered from her usual course and turned her massive hull towards me and our camp.  As the ship neared Shrove, the Manitoulin suddenly began to churn up a thick soup of mud and had to back off for fear of getting stuck in the shallow water.  Astounded, I watched while the captain ordered several of his crew to toss overboard a brand new rowboat. Special delivery. The captain waved, backed up his great ship, and proceeded down the channel. The little craft bobbed in the water until my parents went out to retrieve it. Smiling, they presented me with my very first boat, the Casey Dink. I was completely delighted! Painted a bright blue, it had a thick braided rope that traveled all along the top edge of its hull. I rowed everywhere that summer and for several summers thereafter until eventually Peach bought me a 1 hp motor from Sears & Roebuck (for $29) to put on the back end of the Casey Dink. With a custom rigged extension on the motor’s handle, I could sit in the middle of my little rowboat and cruise the waters of the North Channel. The advantage of this new accelerated freedom allowed me and my friends to cause endless bother to the ferryman over at Langstaff Marina. When his ferry was in transit from Langstaff to Campement D’Ours, we would often sneak up in the Casey Dink, grab hold of the ferry’s overhanging lifeboat, and get a free tow. The COKITIREMAFR and the JAJEWP Convinced that no young child summering in Desbarats should be without the pleasures of a simple rowboat, I later bought one for my own children. We called it the COKITIREMAFR (a tongue twisting acronym using the first two letters of my six children’s names) and, like the Casey Dink, it was painted a bright blue. Despite its cumbersome name, the rowboat became a well-loved vehicle for getting a child to Shrove and back on his/her own initiative. Keeping the legacy of rowboats alive, this boat, in turn, was replaced with the JAJEWP (the first letter of my first six grandchildren’s names). Nine more grandchildren followed, and I am pleased to report that all have climbed into the JAJEWP to experience the thrill of independence as they rowed themselves to secret places without a single adult on board.

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