The idea of creating a Marine Model Club in the Picton and Bay of Quinte area originated with Bob Strachan who was a long-time member of the Metro Marine Modellers. He had moved to this area and wanted to continue working in the hobby with other interested modellers. In the fall of 1994, Bob left a sign-up list at the Picton Model Railroad show to see if there was sufficient interest.
In March of 1995, phone calls were made to arrange a meeting; six people attended and agreed to get together again and pursue the idea of a club. The club formed later in 1995, with Bob Strachan providing the guiding light and with experience gleaned from his many years with the Metro Marine Modellers. While in Toronto, Some of Bob’s boats appeared in the Tim Allen movie, “The Santa Clause” and the TV series “ENG”. Meeting nights were set for the first Friday of each month at Bob’s home. Many very interesting topics were discussed, most having to do with model boat building but encompassing the breadth of life experiences of the members, many of whom had experienced military service. Topics covered a wide spectrum embracing all forms of model building from scale, kit, and scratch-build; and from static to radio control, and using a wide variety of construction materials and techniques. The club was off to a great start and it took the name of Quinte Model Shipwrights in the following year. The club’s first show was with the Belleville Model Railroad club, at their Christmas show in 1997.
In June of 1998, the Club participated in Belleville’s inaugural Bayside Picnic. While water conditions were less than ideal, we showed our club and hobby to about 1400 people and received great cover in the “Belleville Intelligencer”. In the same year, arrangements were made with a local farm owner on highway 49 for the use of a quarry. It was ideally suited to the club’s needs, with lots of sea-room (150 X 350 feet) and weed-free water. Subsequently, the club built a dock for launching and landing, and added a couple of tables. From the start, only electric or sail has been allowed on the pond as the water is also used as a potable supply.
In August, the club held its first event at Isaiah Tubbs Resort (West Lake). We were joined by members of Metro Marine, Kawartha Lakes and Confederation Marine Modellers. There were all types of model boats on the water and the regatta included a ‘conning’ contest, where one person gives steering instructions to the radio operator who has his back to the pond. There was no admittance fee, but the audience was asked to donate to the Mariners’ Museum in South Bay. The proceeds were donated the next day when the club attended at the Mariners’ Service held at the South Bay church. The success of audience participation led to construction of some model tugboats that could be controlled by junior captains, and these remain a great draw whenever we have an on-water display. We’re happy to accept donations when the tugs get used, and it is a pleasure to pass these on to local charities.
Next year, the club hosted another show at Isaiah Tubbs, again with Metro Marine, Kawartha, and Confederation Marine members. There were 50 boats on display, featuring everything from ships-in-a-bottle to static and electric and sail radio controlled models. Conning, towing, and manoeuvring challenges were also part or the regatta. The following day the club celebrated with its annual picnic at the Hwy 49 pond.
In addition to the club’s pond sailings, it has continued to participate with static displays at model railroad shows, mostly in Belleville and Picton, at Christmas and summer events, in local malls, with special events sponsored by local businesses, and, more widely, at various on-water events in eastern Ontario.
One of the biggest and most widely promoted marine events that the club has participated in, “The Ultra Marine Festival”, was held at the Crystal Palace in Picton in 2001. This event was opened by the Consul General of France, Hugues Goisbault, with MP Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture) and local MPP Ernie Parsons (who dedicated a plaque to commemorate the Gold Cup hydroplane races that had been held on the Hayward Long Reach). There were guest artists and musicians from France, and master model maker Roger Cole gave talks about modelling. Our club erected a huge pool outside, and this gave spectators a good view of models in action and to try a bit of steering themselves. In addition, Gary Wilson, an accomplished miniaturist, explained his intricate hobby indoors amid the over 60 models that we and sister clubs had on display.
Since 2002 we’ve had a portable pool, thanks to three very special members, and it was immediately put into use …………. 3 times in the inaugural year of this “portable wonder”! In 2004, we began the start of our association with the annual Antique and Classic Car Show at Odessa (in June), and usually this has marked the start of our on-water activities for the year. Sadly, this year also marked the passing of our founding member.
Over the years, we’ve had several involvements with model boat clubs including Confederation Marine Modellers, Metro Marine Modellers, the Kawartha Marine Modellers, Quinte Plastic Modellers and the Quinte Model Yacht Club. We’ve been at several annual shows including model railroad shows, the Wellington and Belleville Waterfront events, and the Odessa car show; also at various antique boat shows (including the “Miss Supertest” celebration at Picton), and the War of 1812 commemorative event at the Mariners’ Museum (South Bay). Club members have also enjoyed visits to places and activities of special interest.
The club is a member of the Great Lakes Model Boat Association and although, like many small groups, members come and members go, we’ve had an active membership ranging from 10-15 members for most of the time since the club formed. Weather permitting, meetings are usually held at the home of a member about once a month, and our social highlight is an annual summer party (also at a member’s home).