At the end of May, the Marina will open and once again, many people will enjoy this jewel by the lake. But maybe we should not take the Marina for granted. Gerry Moar has reluctantly put it up for sale. He told Tempo that, after 37 years, it is time for him to consider his retirement. We cannot know what the future will bring but we can take some comfort in understanding the Marina’s history.
This picture shows Joe Benoit, in the straw hat on the left, who bought the site for $125.00 from Henry Williams in 1889, who owned a farm on Victoria and all the land down to the lake. Joe was born in Vermont. He was killed in 1902 when, while working as a foremen on the Orford Mountain Railroad, the revolver that he was carrying in his pocket dropped out and went off.
For the first 80 years of the 20th century, the boathouse offered a rental service. Many of the boats were the traditional rowboats, known as Verchères that were such a feature of Quebec water life back then. Beer would be offered to regulars. There was no food service.
The property was owned by various Benoit family members until 1981 when Peter Marsh owned it for one glorious summer. He told Tempo that more beer was served then than boats rented. Gerry Moar and Bill Patterson bought it from Peter later in 1981. In the early Moar/Patterson days, the Marina was not much changed from its history. Gerry and Bill both had full-time jobs. It was still a simple summer business where you rented a boat and had a quick drink. The business that we know today, began after 1986 when Gerry bought out Bill and began to expand the services.
What had been a boathouse, was transformed over time into a Marina. The new docks were installed in 1988. Later, food and drink became a real feature. The Tiki bar was put in about 2001. By this time, the Marina was Gerry’s main job and he lived over the shop. The early employees included many local kids such as Gerry’s three daughters, Tara, Nikki and Jaime and others such as Lee Patterson whose mother complained to Tempo that he lived there.
The community plays a key role in the annual work of the Marina. Every year, at the beginning of the season, a group of locals install the docks that sit on land during the winter. Each fall, with regret, the same group returns and puts the docks away. Payment is beer and pizza.
This may or may not be the last summer for the Marina as locals and visitors have come to know it. Let’s hope it is a summer of warm weather and sunshine.