One Motor's Story...
2008 will mark 50 years since my grandfather, Lawrence Joseph Paquette purchased his first boat and outboard motor. “Joe” as he liked to be called, owned a camp on Whitewater Lake in Azilda Ontario with his wife Veronica (nee Belanger). The property was passed to them from Veronica’s parents who owned a large tract stretching from the CPR line that cuts across the south eastern portion of the Valley (the colloquial name for the Sudbury Meteorite Basin) to the lake and beyond. Veronica’s family worked the fields for potatoes and the bush for lumber eking out a pioneer existence on the rugged landscape, ravaged by early attempts at industrial scale mining.
Joe was from Copper Cliff, his father labored at INCO for pennies an hour, housing his family in a rough planked house, with a rough planked floor. One of thirteen children, Joe got a job at INCO’s transportation department where his first job was to unload train cars of bricks by hand. Joe labored there for over 41 years working his way up to foreman by retirement in 1982.
With six boys of their own it became necessary to find a way to keep them busy. It seems the 1958 Eaton's catalogue had the answer. Joe ordered himself a “Fun-afloat” package; a 12’ plywood boat with a 12 hp Viking outboard. Veronica was not impressed with the boat, as it was a bit small for her growing family. This boat was returned and replaced the next spring with a Nippising 14’ deep and wide plywood runabout.
My Joe, Veronica and Mark Paquette out on Whitewater Lake in the 1960's.
in the 1959 14' Nippising and the 1958 12 hp Viking
The family enjoyed thousands of hours of cruising, fishing and adventuring; taking regular trips down Levy Creek to Moore Lake for camping. The family enjoyed boating so much that the eldest boy, Joe Jr., acquired a used Peterborough Aquaflyer with a 1957 Golden Javelin which they used for skiing.
By the early 1970’s the wooden boats were showing their age and after an attempt a applying a polyester resin to the bottom of the Aquaflyer, both boats ended up at the new house in Azilda just north of the lake on the 10 acre plot they bought from Veronica’s brother. Joe and my parents had just finished building a duplex there and planned on constructing a dog kennel. The boats where put away for good out in the backyard where they were consumed by growth and destroyed by the elements. The Javelin had developed some ignition issues, was mothballed and has since disappeared. The Viking on the other hand, was rewarded with a spot in the basement workshop where it would stay for over a decade. Mark, their youngest boy, acquired a brand new Merc 500 with a blue and white fiberglass runabout which would satisfy the family’s boating needs for many years.
The camp was eventually sold to my Uncle Mark who dismantled it and built a house for his young family. I remember the day quite vividly when the Viking was brought out of storage and mounted on an ugly old 14’ aluminum boat Mark had bought to keep on his dock. I was a youngster; I cannot remember how old, but my Grandfather made it quite clear that day the motor was to be mine. After a quick demonstration I found myself at the tiller driving my first outboard. I was hooked! I remember spending many days out in that boat exploring and fishing. After my grandfather passed away in 1993, this artifact became especially important to me, and I remember using it often as it reminded me of him; in fact I still get a warm feeling every time I start up this motor.
My favorite thing to do was to load the thing to the gunnels with friends and gear and navigate Levy Creek to Moore Lake for camping trips. There must have been dozens of these trips through my adolescence, the most memorable being a trip in late August where a full moon to the south made for the most spectacular Northern Lights I have ever seen in the northern sky. My friend Mike Evans and 2 ladies camped that weekend on “The Point,” a popular campsite well scavenged for firewood. We fell a respectable dead oak tree with a 10 inch trunk on an adjacent shore, loaded the whole tree, branches and all, into the boat and brought it back to the site. The trunk extended just past the transom and the branches reached well beyond the bow. We bucked it up with a collapsible hiking saw and split it with a hatchet. Exhausted, we spent a comfortable night on the rock, entranced by the light show and the calls of the loons.
By my late teens it seemed the motor began to run unreliably. I can remember removing all those pesky cowls more than once many miles from any dock to change a spark plug, which would only seem to solve the problem temporarily. After an agonizingly slow return trip from Moore Lake on one cylinder, I brought the motor home and put it in the wood pile out back where it would sit for a number of years while I went off to University.
My Grandmother passed away over the winter of 2001. Soon after my partner Suzan and I discovered we would be parents and decided to move into the vacant house. A yard sale was put together the following summer where a colossal amount of stuff was liquidated. The preceding generations had not seemingly thrown anything out in the entire time they had lived in the house; this yard sale was epic in scale. While we had spent weeks preparing for it, we were still digging to the bottom of the mess on the morning of the sale. Caught up in the moment, I grabbed the old 12 and dragged it out to the pile; not a minute went by before someone was asking about it. My good friend Dave Temelini nearly smacked me upside the head and told me to put it in the shed. Dave promised to bring it to a backyard mechanic in his neighborhood who was swift enough to diagnose a coil problem. I drove the guy out to a junk yard in the middle of nowhere were we acquired some used coils, and in a few days I was back out on the water and loving it!
By the next spring the used coils did what used coils do. By then I had found AOMCI online and my “Ask a Member” post was quickly responded to by Al Lockhart who only lived about 20 minutes away and would work for beer! In retrospect, it was probably a good thing that it took three visits to the Lockhart’s home to get the old 12 running like I remember it did when I was a kid. Over these visits our families developed a relationship that has lasted a lot longer than the case of beer I brought over.
Since then, we have acquired two great boats to run it on; for fishing and adventuring we picked up a 60’s aluminum 14’ Viking Crusader. The second boat, bought by my partner Suzan, is a stylish and comfortable late 1940’s 15’ Peterborough Lakeside. Both boats offer great performance for this and all the other small Vikings in my collection. Despite collecting a plethora of other Vikings, Grandpa’s motor is still one of our most used and continues to offer “Fun-afloat” for our family and friends.
In Loving Memory of My Grandpa
Lawrence Joseph “Joe” Paquette
1923 to 1993
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Last updated August 14th, 2012