Motor-boat racing a century ago

MOrto Boar "Flirt" as Connolly's (later Paoil's) wharf ca. 1913

Motor-boat “Flirt” at Connolly’s (later Paoil’s) wharf ca. 1913

The summer of 1913  saw a burst of  activity in Charlottetown Harbour as the Charlottetown Aquatic Club organized a number of events.   The first of these was a grand parade of all the motorboats in Charlottetown leaving the Navigation Wharf for Victoria Park at 7:00. The Guardian reported thirty actually took part.  The event was described as follows:

“What with the rushing boats gaily flying flags and pennants both aft and for’ad, the toot of whistles, the sounds of the exhaust explosions, the merry parties of people on board, and the echoes of their merriment, the scene was one full of life, and only served to accentuate the fact that the boating and sailing facilities of Charlottetown are unsurpassable…”

Some 1000 to 1500 spectators lined the Victoria Park Shoreline to get a glimpse of the boats. Competing in the speed boat class were Frank Hennessey’s Dixie Girl, C.L. Grant’s Vixen, Frank Stewart’s Ruth and the Fox owned by Mr. Hobbs.. After three heats over a straight one mile course ending in front of the Park the winner was Dixie Girl. The other race of the evening was an out and back race which saw all boats race away from the starting line for seven minutes and on signal, turn and race back. That race has an inconclusive result. The Guardian editor praised the Aquatic Club for their initiative and success:

“The animated appearance of the harbour with its forty or fifty motors on Tuesday evening will not soon be forgotten by those who witnessed it and nothing could be better designed to demonstrate to visitors the comparative comfort – if not wealth- the friendly co-operation, the capacity for healthful recreation, and above all the splendid facilities available in Charlottetown for such recreation.”

For the second evening of races, held about two weeks later, there was a race for speed boats, for “semi-speed boats” (this probably refers to non-racing motor boats), an open class  and, in partnership with the Hillsboro Boating Club, rowing races.  This time the course was a circular one to a marked buoy and back.  The speed boat class consisted of the same boats as the earlier race, with the semi-speed boats being MacMillan Bros. Imperial, J.A. Webster’s Imperial II, Harold Burke’s Flirt (seen above). It is not clear if the races continued for the rest of the summer.

Clearly seen on the stem of the Hal Burke’s Flirt is a burgee carrying the letters “CAC”, most likely the burgee of the newly organized Charlottetown Aquatic Club. Also in the background of the picture in the famed “Houseboat Doris” which was a fixture in the harbour for many years.

The photo was probably taken at the now-eroded wharf situated west of the current Charlottetown Yacht Club.


2 thoughts on “Motor-boat racing a century ago

  1. Century boats

    Such an interesting and useful article! I haven’t even heard about this story. Would you mind if I add your article to my web directory about boating? It would be a pleasure for me to share it. Thanks!


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