Purchasing The Terminals

By Al Woolnough and Charlie Tatham

Hamilton Bros. owned the Terminals at the time. The manager was Ken Ford who was very difficult to work with, but we soldiered on. I can remember him calling me at Ainley and Assoc. on a Monday after we had done some work over the weekend that displeased him. The call consisted of “Woolnough get down here!” I don’t remember what the issue was, I think we may have cut a sapling down to accommodate a concrete abutment for our docks.

CYC’s position in the harbour wasn’t formalized until 1975 when Bob Beattie, who had joined as a member, became the manager of the Terminals. Bob was super. CYC took over the basement of the Terminals apart from the north end which was accessed from the office above by a steep set of stairs. The Terminals undertook some improvements in order to accommodate their new tenants.

In 1973 grain handling at the terminals ceased and the equipment was sold and removed ensuring that the business would not return.  An inland grain handling facility was constructed by the Beattie family. Grain and corn were brought to the new facility by truck, dried, stored and shipped out also by truck. Boats stopped delivering products to the Terminals. The Terminals were offered for sale. The real estate agent, handling the sale, was member and later commodore, Bill Rennie. The building was for sale for some time. I believe it was Bill’s idea, after the price had dropped several times, for CYC to offer to purchase the property. 

In the end, CYC agreed to cover the cost of the Town taking on a debenture to purchase the property including the entire Terminals property which included about half of the yacht basin, the road allowance and what is now Millennial Park north of the grain elevator. The total cost to CYC was approx. $1,000,000 over 20 years in exchange for a long-term lease for the yacht basin, the Terminals office building and certain lands surrounding the same.

 Most people in Collingwood are not aware that they have CYC to thank for the Town’s acquiring of Millennial Park and having the access road become public. We attempted to negotiate with CNR who owned the south end of the yacht basin. We were allowed to use the area (mostly free-standing moorings) but they wanted no part of a formal agreement.

The elephant in the room has always been the potential need to dredge the basin to provide adequate depth when the water level drops below chart datum. I remember investigating the basin north of the grain elevator with Charlie. We undertook copious soundings and conducted numerous soil tests in the current basin. We determined that the basin north of the Terminals would make an excellent yacht basin as it had deeper water than the current basin. 

Unfortunately, probably because of a previous low water event, the Terminals petitioned the Feds to dredge the channel adjacent to the grain elevator.  The Feds agreed to dredge the channel as long as the Terminals would allow them to dispose of the excavated material in, you guessed it, the basin north of the Terminals. We had discussions with the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, Ministry of Natural Resources and Fisheries and Oceans and of course the Town regarding possible dredging of our basin and began to build a war chest for the imminent possibility of dredging. The idea was abandoned after Fisheries indicated that we would not be able to dispose of dredged material within 100m of the water. You can not get more than 100 m from the water on the spit.

 After the extreme low water of 2013 CYC initiated a joint venture with the Town in the south harbour. CYC has since returned to the north basin and the Town is continuing to further develop the south end. Now the folks of Collingwood have something else to thank the CYC for.