Historical Society’s nautical exhibits at Yachtsman Association reception

Aug 23, 2023 | Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

Yachtsmen view new museum exhibit (Photo by JK Imagery LLC)

Dr. Richard Thomas puts final touches on Catawba Museum’s new pleasure boating exhibit. (Photo by JK Imagery LLC)

CATAWBA ISLAND — The Catawba Museum at Union Chapel officially introduced two nautical exhibits on a recent Saturday morning at a reception hosted by Catawba Island Club and the Catawba Island Historical Society to honor the CIC Yachtsman Association. After touring the museum, guests socialized under tents at the iconic 1888 former Sunday school and non-denominational house of worship.

“Pleasure boating is an integral part of our local culture,” observed Historical Society Trustee Rick Thomas, who designed the new displays. “It would not be possible to recount the evolution of Catawba Island without highlighting stories of famed boat building companies like Lyman and Matthews. The vision of such area businesses changed forever the way we live along the shores of Lake Erie.”

One of the new exhibits focuses on vintage watercraft beginning in the 1920s and 1930s, while the other targets development of the infrastructure which supports boating. The creation of the Catawba Cliffs Beach Club — forerunner of the Catawba Island Club –- played a central role in providing a nucleus around which luxury pleasure boating could evolve. The history of the CIC’s transition to one of the finest yacht clubs in the Great Lakes is told with vintage photos and anecdotes from early promotional materials.

“Power and sailboat races were, and still are, popular among boaters,” continued Thomas. “Not only do these two displays incorporate pictures and explanations of several modern-day marine competitions, but we have found and included evidence that Native Americans were equally enthusiastic centuries ago about racing their canoes!”

To help celebrate the role of the CIC Yachtsman Association in creating and sustaining the Catawba boating culture, and to encourage membership in the Historical Society, area artist David Peltier offered do a custom painting of the boat belonging to the winner of a drawing held among those in attendance. The lucky ticket drawn belonged to Andy and Liz Winson. They are in the process of buying a new boat which will be the subject of Peltier’s artistic talent.

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