Lake of Bays Marine Museum and Navigational Society 2017 Update

The Lake of Bays Marine Museum and Navigational Society is a volunteer, non-profit organization that acts as the guardian of the SS Bigwin. Our goals in 2013 were to achieve the following:

  • To save and restore the SS Bigwin, an important part of Lake of Bays Marine history
  • To add to the ambiance and nostalgia of the beautiful Lake of Bays
  • To assist the local community by creating a destination brand to assist in economic development
  • To create a high quality, safe and memorable customer experience

We are happy to report that five years later these goals have been achieved. In fact the SS Bigwin has played an important role in bringing the community and a variety of other important causes together.

This past season was our fifth year of successful operations and although the weather was the worst in recent history the SS Bigwin was able to breakeven on an operating basis.

SS Bigwin 2017 Highlights

  • Ran 63 1.5 hours public cruises, rain or shine
  • Ran 26 private cruises
  • Ran 15 special event cruises including consistently sold out Thursday night Port Cunnington dinner cruises, Bigwin Island Dinner Cruises and Lake of Bays Brewery Fathers Day & August beer tasting cruises
  • Hosted our 6th community barbeque and free public cruises
  • Made significant investments into our real estate in Dorset commemorating Canada 150 with improved museum displays
  • Made required investments/improvements to the boat to satisfy Ministry of Transportation, and became the first Hybrid Boat to attain the Bronze Certified “Green Tourism” designation
  • Employed a total of 12 people ( part time and full time), students and local residents
  • Contributed to the completion of Dwight Docks
  • Contributed to The Anishinaabeg at Lake of Bays commemorative plaque unveiling and ceremony on October 5, 2017
  • Secured a variety of Government grants

Bigwin Academy Awards Gala Highlights

Thanks to the support of the Lake of Bays community we hosted our 5th successful Gala raising over $250,000 for a variety of charities. We are proud to have raised $136,000 for Huntsville Hospital, $10,000 for Dorset Health Hub, and $5,000 for The Lake of Bays Heritage Association. The balance was used to complete required Ministry of Transportation work to the boat and on repairs to the Dorset Marine Museum including – new windows, doors and structural work.

This Gala continues to be the Lake of Bays social event of the year and is an excellent example of how the SS Bigwin can be used to pull the community together to support a variety of great causes. One of our current goals as a Board is to leverage the SS Bigwin gala to help support local health care, heritage and economic development.

Save the dates – 2018 summer

June 9th – Annual community barbeque and free public cruises
July 7th – Bigwin Summer Beach Party

The 2018 summer theme for our annual fundraiser is a Hawaiian style beach party. Guests are asked to wear their favourite Hawaiian shirts/outfits or Jimmy Buffet parrot head kit. Formal invitations will be going out shortly with priority given to last year’s partygoers. The event is limited to 200 guests so we encourage guests to RSVP quickly to prevent being disappointed.

Major SS Bigwin Goals for 2018

1. Create a sustainable business model for the SS Bigwin.

To achieve this we need to expand into more corporate events such as employee team building/recognition events and corporate client events. Weddings, private parties, family reunions, special milestones will continue to be the backbone of the private charter business. As you plan your 2018 events please keep the SS Bigwin in mind.

2. Public Accessibility

We also want to ensure public accessibility and remain committed to regular public cruises. Again please encourage your summer guests to use this great asset of the Lake.

3. Leverage the SS Bigwin to help raise funds for other causes

Our annual Gala is evolving into an event that supports health care, heritage and economic development. As our operation becomes more sustainable we hope to grow our contribution to other important causes on Lake of Bays.

4. To run public cruises out of Dwight and other parts of the Lake

Now that the Dwight dock improvements have been completed we are hoping to run regular cruises from Dwight.

5. To continue to improve the customer experience on the SS Bigwin

Our goal is to deliver a high quality, safe and memorable customer experience. Each year we learn from the past and will continue to work with our service team to deliver the best possible customer experience.

Many thanks to our Board for their continued efforts and a special thanks to Jeff Gabura. Jeff is retiring from the Board after originally creating it and many years of service. Jeff and the Lake of Bays Heritage Association were responsible for saving this historic asset and Jeff’s passion and commitment for many years kept our organization going for which we are all grateful.

Most importantly thank you to those who continue to support and use the SS Bigwin. Without you the SS Bigwin would only exist as a black and white photo of days gone by.

All the best for 2018

Kind Regards,

Matthew Gaasenbeek
On behalf of Lake of Bays Marine Museum and Navigation Society Board of Directors

David Flynn
Kelvin Johnson
Collin Reaney
Tim Stanley
Don Tapscott
Paul Thomas
Mike Wilson