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Historic Watts Boathouse (Posted On: Saturday, March 22, 2008)

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The Collingwood Dragon Boat and Canoe Club has launched a fund-raising initiative to assist in its efforts to restore the historic Watts Boathouse.

Last year, the Ontario Trillium Foundation provided the club with a $50,000 grant towards the $70,000 cost of renovations. To meet the $20,000 difference, the club has launched the Watts Boathouse Lifesaving Society.

On Tuesday, the club welcomed three ‘Admirals’ to the Life Ring Society: the Town of Collingwood,

Fram/Slokker, and Peter and Angela Watts.  ‘Admirals’ are individuals or organizations that have contributed $5,000 or more towards the cost of saving and restoring the boathouse.

“The Watts Life Ring Society is the club’s way of recognizing all donors and putting their names on display at the boathouse,” said club president Brian Saunderson. “The plaque itself is made from antiques from the Watts Boathouse; the life ring is a restored antique cork life ring and the plaque is made from century-old oak. 

“It is a fitting way to recognize those in our community who wish to contribute to the preservation of one of Collingwood’s oldest buildings and last remnants of our shipbuilding heritage.”

In December, the Town of Collingwood set up a special account for donations to the boathouse restoration; donors are eligible for a tax receipt from the municipality.

“The rationale behind the Watts Boathouse Fund was to set up a fund with the Town of Collingwood specifically for the restoration, renovation and improvement of the Watts Boathouse to preserve the boathouse and adapt it for its modern use as a boathouse for the Collingwood Dragon Boat and Canoe Club,” said Saunderson. “It is a unique opportunity for people to get involved in the preservation of Collingwood’s heritage while, at the same time, contributing to building our future. 

“Canada has a rich history in the sport of paddling and donations will assist the Club in providing an excellent paddling facility for Collingwood.”

The club moved the building from its former location last February after reaching an agreement with the Watts’ family, Peter and Angela. The family has been very supportive of the club’s efforts, and a number of family members – including Watts’ descendents now living in Virginia – have expressed their excitement with the club’s plans for the building.

Club members pitched the idea to FRAM Building Group representative Fred Serrafero about contributing to part of the cost of the move, as well as get permission to move the building across FRAM’s property, the former shipyard.

As well as the support of the town to move the building, the Town of Collingwood – through the Heritage Committee and the Leisure Services Department – has provided the club with several grants, including a $3,500 grant that will go directly to the restoration of the building.

For more information about the club, please visit their website.

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