Manufactured in Granvenhurst, Ontario, Canada, Ditchburn built highly popular wooden pleasure boats and racing boats. The company operated from 1871 until the ‘30s constructing wooden rowboats and canoes early on, and later focused on gas-powered vessels. The shipyard started out in England, by William Ditchburn, naval advisor to Queen Elizabeth at the time of the Spanish Armada. By 1869, the company moved to Canada where the Ditchburn brothers continued their long-honored tradition of boatbuilding. Five years later, the family owned and rented a fleet of 24 rowboats to visitors of the area. Somewhere around 1898, the yard shifted to gas-powered boats, and by 1908, the company offered a variety of vessels up to 45 feet. In 1915, the wooden yard caught fire, triggering the company to rebuild a brick building, which still stands today, abandoned. One of the first launches out of that building was Kawandag II, a 73-foot yacht built for John Eaton and designed by Bowes & Mower. The yacht was built completely out of mahogany and was the first large yacht to come out of the shipyard.
The success of the yard initiated an expansion, as at the time, they were operating with 30 employees. They built a new yard in Orillia, close to the Trent-Severn Waterway, allowing them to build larger yachts. Many of the nation’s most affluent families owned a Ditchburn at that time, as it was a symbol of status. Throughout the 20s, six yachts would be under construction at any given time, with their “Viking” being one of the most popular. Unfortunately, due to the Great Depression, many companies like this one suffered and had to let employees go. The company’s expansion proved to be more than they could handle, and the yard closed.
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