Dawson’s History

Pioneers in the Boating Industry!

—Based on an article from Power Boating Magazine 2000

A unique individual navigating a revolutionary channel through the boating industry is Doug Dawson—a fifth generation boat businessman.

Doug Dawson’s boating experience is as outfitted as a fifty-foot motor yacht. “I was born and raised at the family marina on Lake Simcoe just north of Toronto Ontario where I learned how to boat in runabouts, daycruisers, sailboats, cruisers—in fact everything that floated as soon as I could see over the windshield. We had franchises for power and sail from 15’ to 50’. Being the lead salesman for many years and later sales manager, I was expected to be able to drive everything. I was fortunate. I was taught by the best boat driver in Canada, Art Dawson—my Dad” brags Doug. See article “What my Father taught me“.

“I knew all the hundreds of boaters in our marina by name and heard all their stories (good and bad) from an early age. I have met and talked with thousands more boaters while working Boat Shows for the past 45 years.”

When he was just 21, he piloted a 42’ Trojan Motor Yacht from Maryland through ocean swells and tides and locks to Lake Simcoe, Ontario, Canada with his younger brother and two younger friends on board. The only navigational equipment was a VHF radio and a depth sounder. This two-week, 1000 mile trip was the first of many piloting jobs he did for the family marina. Doug and his wife Brenda even spent their honeymoon on the water and they’ve boated ever since.

As Sea Scout Master for 10 years, he taught dozens of kids how to sail the troop’s three sailboats. He demonstrated the new Columbia Sailboats in inventory and had the opportunity to sail the many sailboat trade-ins including a 48’ Hughes Ketch on Lake Ontario.

At Dawson’s Marina, the family business, he managed sales and administration for 16 years and Doug sat on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Marine Operators Association for 23 years and is a past president. He and his wife Brenda were active members of the OMOA and the recipients of the prestigious “WJR” award for “Outstanding Contribution to the Marine Industry”—the highest honor given to any member.

“Our family home was on the marina property so I experienced everything the marina had to offer from the time I could walk”. With such know-how, Dawson has been making innovative waves in boating since graduating from Ryerson University – Business Administration in 1967. He knows what it takes to get boaters into their pleasure as quickly as possible and he’s using his knowledge to change the course of boating forever.

After leaving Dawson’s Marina in 1983, Doug ventured forward to chart new boating waters in Georgian Bay, Ontario. He is a founding member of the Thornbury Yacht Club as well as the Georgian Bay Sailing Regatta, both formed in the 1980’s.

Doug tests new models for Power Boating Canada Magazine.

He has organized many Boat Shows, Trade Shows, Boating Events and Parades. He organized the first Poker Run in Canada and the next 20 Poker Runs for Poker Runs America. He has reviewed close to 300 boats since 1984, traveling across North America to test new models including the Miami International Boat Show for 20 years, The Toronto International Boat Show for 40 years, Trade Shows for 15 years, many other boat shows as well as countless boat factories for 40 years.

In 1983, he and his wife Brenda, were the first in Canada and much of the world to establish a database that allowed new and seasoned boaters to shop for their dream boat. Computer Boat Search was the first Boat Multiple Listing Service in North America, nine years before the U.S. government began offering Internet access to the general public for the first time in 1992.

In 1984, Doug and Brenda created the first Canadian Boat Value Book after being approached by several marinas to help with wiser trade-in decisions. This publication now has 45,000 different boat values—both power and sail, and takes all year to tabulate before it is published annually for January.

In 1991 they started the Boat Evaluation Service. Doug has personally evaluated almost 12,000 boats for banks, insurance companies and marine businesses across Canada through the fax-in/fax-out service of as well as 260,000 values for the Boat Value Book database. This Boat Value Book is referred to as “The Bible” in the Marine Industry.

Computer Boat Search has celebrated 20 years of multiple listing boats for sale. It became a cyberspace showroom when it was uploaded onto the Internet in 1998 with the expertise of their son Glen. What makes their site unique is that you can search for your ideal water-craft and hyperlink directly to the pictures and specs at the vendor/marina/broker site to view the current information—not a copy that doesn’t necessarily get updated. This concept eliminates duplication of data and photos, errors and omissions, and is faster and more accurate than other methods used on the internet today. The information you see is as current as possible because you are routed directly to the vendor site.

Over the last 40 years, the Dawsons have accumulated a room full of boat brochures that are helpful for boat owners who are reconditioning old boats and need original layouts etc. Newer boat owners may also request information on their boat if specifications are not provided with their new vessel. Also, Marinas and Brokers find it handy to make up spec sheets when the boat is snow bound. A list of Dawsons’ brochures can be found on this website at Old Boat Brochures. “One man bought an older 32′ Trojan, and wanted a copy of the original brochure so he could show his boating buddies all winter long since he wasn’t taking delivery until spring. I was able to e-mail the information to him.” Doug said.

In 2003, the Dawsons focussed their energy and expertise on helping boaters everywhere with their library of brochures and their new e-book “Buy a Boat with Confidence and Save Money”, first in a series of e-books sharing a lifetime of industry knowledge and expertise.

Since the Dawsons enjoy cruising the Great Lakes in their 30-foot cruiser, they share the thrill of all boaters. Their ingenuity and foresight have allowed them to be instrumental in helping thousands of boating enthusiasts choose the boat of their dreams.

This team has always been ahead of their time and their latest contribution to boating is no exception and will most definitely be treasured. Their first in a series of e-books shares a lifetime of industry knowledge and expertise to help hundreds of thousands of families “Buy a Boat With Confidence and Save Money”.

During the summer of 2005, Brenda wrote her first e-book “First Mate 101” to help First Mates everywhere shorten the learning curve, stop worrying and start enjoying boating.

Before long, the Dawsons had requests to share their boat handling expertise for docking, tying and launching boats. The Better Way Series of e-lessons is now available to do that and more. Doug and Brenda are offering a free newsletter to help boaters with boating knowledge and plan to have more e-books available.

The Dawsons are great source of Boating “How To” information.

2 thoughts on “Dawson’s History”

  1. As a small child I spent many, many hours at Dawson’s. Trying to keep me on the cruiser proved far too daunting for Dad so he sold the Cruiser & bought lake front property just south of Beaverton & built a cottage.
    Since his father has been a commercial Captain in Newfoundland, the water always drew him in.
    Although we no longer had “Tiahruru” docked we still regularly went to visit Mr. Art & Mrs. Art.
    Just wished to say hello & yes Doug, you really could dock anything. I remember well when you took me out on “Blue Heaven”. Thank you for the memories. This would have been early 1960s.

    1. Marie Coyle Oliver

      Doug Dawson
      I spent many years growing up at my Uncle and Aunts cottage. I am sure you remember them as I remember you and my cousin hanging out. My Uncle is Ted Davy and Aunt Marie and their son Doug. I remember one incident where you and my Aunt Marie were racing your boats on Lake Simcoe.
      I truly enjoyed reading your story and seeing your adventures after all these years.
      Marie Coyle nee ‘Oliver’ and my brothers name is Gary Oliver.

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