Commencing service in 1883, The Stoney Lake Navigation Company was established by P.P. Young with a 75-foot steamship named Fairy. The formation of the Navigation Company greatly spurred further development and prior to the establishment of steamer service, people were forced to travel by canoe, or rowboat. For years, steam ships were the only way to reach communities and resorts surrounding the lakes – Inns such as the Mt. Julian (1874) started to thrive when steamships arrived.
With the advent of the car and road systems a death blow was dealt to the once busy steamship service, and they ceased operations in 1935. Many navigation companies hung on by offering excursion cruises, but it just wasn’t enough.
During the war years there was no time for vacations or frivolous excursions – but as the war ended, the sightseeing tour-boat business began to flourish. Canada’s first truly modern sightseeing boat was the brain child of Paul Duhamel, and was built and launched at Wheatley, ON in 1961. The design became immensely popular, and in 1963 the second ship was built – the Miss Muskoka, which eventually became The Kawartha Spirit, owned and operated by Captain Randy “Old Pops” Hinton.
There’s an Old Boy’s Club in the tour-boat business, and strangely, Captain Bill Thomson and Captain Randy “Old Pops” Hinton didn’t meet until March 2017; immediately the two became fast friends. Upon hearing the story of the Kawartha Spirit Bill (aka Captain Billiam Bligh) almost immediately decided to pick up where Captain Randy left off.
The Spirit of the Kawarthas of today is a slightly newer, upgraded version of the Kawartha Spirit.
The Spirit of the Kawarthas was built and launched in 1969; one of four built for a development on Peche Island. Unfortunately the project went bankrupt, and the ship was
purchased by the Bob Lo Island Amusement Park; briefly being used as a passenger ferry between Amherstburg, ON and the Amusement Park and eventually being transferred to the Park’s American operating arm, and renamed Friendship. Bob Lo went bankrupt in 1993, and the ship was then purchased from the park by Portofino Restaurant and Banquet Center.
Stoney Lake Cruises acquired the ship in November 2018 and she was delivered to Westport Marina in LaSalle, ON on December 14th, 2018. The ship was renamed The Spirit of the Kawarthas, and for the first time in 50 years, she left the Detroit River for the shipyard where she was built; Hike Metal Products. There she was dry docked for Transport Canada’s inspection. Due to the fact that she was a Canadian vessel returning to Canada, she was required to meet/exceed 2018 passenger vessel standards. Over the course of 6 weeks, extensive upgrades and improvements were made. The ship departed May 25th 2019 for a 14 day, repositioning voyage to Kawartha Lakes Marine in Bobcaygeon, for finishing touches.
Stoney Lake Cruises Ltd. currently offers a sailing schedule with something for everyone. On Wednesdays you can enjoy a Wine Pairing Cruise. Saturdays feature two cruises. At 11am the Stoney Lake Pirates head out in search of the Lost Treasure of Stoney Lake with our arch-enemy, the old sea-dog and scallywag Captain Corbin (www.CaptainCorbin.com). The Saturday evening signature event is The Magical Dinner Cruise, where you can delight in sleight-of-hand, conjuring and the pure magic of The Amazing Corbin (www.charmingcheat.ca).
There are also lunch cruises throughout the week at 11am, sightseeing cruises departing at 2pm daily, and dinner cruises at 6pm. All feature an entertaining commentary by Captain Bill. Check out the schedule at www.stoneylakecruises.com.
The ship is also available for special occasions. Whether it be a wedding, birthday, anniversary, corporate outing or celebration of life; our event planner, Deb Crossen, works with you to organize a worry-free affair; creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Captain Bill, having extensive experience in the dining excursion vessel, and private yacht Industry, has set the highest standards for The Spirit. The tag line says it all – “Exceeding Expectations.”
Stoney Lake Cruises Inc., 610 Mt Julian Viamede Rd., Woodview, ON
Kids Pirate Cruises are here!
Every Saturday at 11AM
See website for more details!