Environment Canada - December 2004
December 3 is the United Nations Day of Disabled Persons.
To mark the event Environment Canada invited us to describe
the CharterAbility initiative and join members of its staff
for discussions over lunch. The event, organized by Juliana
Molinari, proved to be informative and helpful with plenty
of questions, suggestions and offers of help. Those "weather
guys" are fun to be with!
The Livable City - October 2004
A film crew from City TV was treated to a chilly October day
cruise along 16 Mile Creek as a prelude to Stephen's appearance
on The Livable City with Gord Martineau. The Oakville Power
Boat Club made its facilities available and Chad Dailey of
EZ Dock Ontario provided a temporary ramp that enabled us
to load Stephen and his friends onto his pontoon boat. The
rest of us waved as they left the dock before bolting to find
In-Water Boat Show - September 2004
The first day of the four-day show (Thursday September 16)
just happened to coincide with Stephen's breakfast interview
with City TV's David Onley and the Cruise for a Cause which
had been rescheduled following the previous weeks storm.
That meant an early morning call for Stephen so he could get
to the GO Station and make it under his own power to the studio
by 7:30 am. Then off to Ontario Place in time for the opening
of the boat show at noon. A few hours there and then onto
the GO train to get back to Oakville in time to greet guests
arriving for the cruise.
We watched Stephen as he set off down the road about midnight
for a few hours sleep before returning to the boat show the
next morning. Sometimes he forgets he's a PWD. Either that
or he ignores it!
Cruise for a Cause - September 2004
After being blown off course the previous week, Oakville's
second annual Cruise for a Cause got underway on September
16th beneath a clear blue sky with close to 200 guests on
board. The lake was calm and we were treated to a spectacular
sunset as we cruised westward on the MV Wayward Princess.
In the Press - Summer 2004
Some of you may have seen the newspaper and magazine articles
published in the Oakville Beaver, the Mississauga News, Ontario
Sailor magazine, and distributed on Family Net. If you haven't
but want to see what's being written about us we've included
a couple of them.
In The Press
Wheels in Motion - June 2004
Oakville Mayor Ann Mulvale proclaimed June 13, 2004 as the
Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion Day. At 204 events across the
country Canadians were invited to "wheel, bike, skate, run
or walk to help improve the quality of life of people with
a spinal cord injury." CharterAbility was a community sponsor
of the event - in recognition of which we were presented with
a framed certificate that has pride of place in our growing
To find out more visit: Spinal Cord Injury - Rick Hansen Man In Motion Foundation
Cruise for a Cause II - May 2004
Our first Cruise for a Cause out of Port Credit Village Marina (Snug Harbour) got underway to the sound of music under a clear sky. Thanks to the generosity of the local business community we had some great prizes and a fine collection of items for the silent auction. Whether you enjoy good food, good company, dancing the night away or a peaceful cruise on the lake - this was the place to be!
Click here for more...
Stephen's Other Boat - May 2004
Stephen and a friend of his, Paul Cummings, bought themselves a pontoon boat- wheelchair accessible, of course! Apart from the opportunity to cruise 16-Mile Creek and the lake with up to three wheelchairs on board, Stephen is intending to use the boat to promote CharterAbility. He's hoping to increase awareness among the boating community and "banner it up like a Nascar."
The end result of the "decorations" is anyone's guess but take a look at the boat in its "pristine" state!
Rotary Club - May 2004
The Rotary Club of Oakville North invited us to attend a breakfast meeting to acquaint its members with CharterAbility and its goals. The presentation was well received by an enthusiastic group of Rotarians who commended the idea of providing a boat for people with disabilities. By way of appreciation they issued a certificate, on behalf of CharterAbility, for the immunization of 28 children against polio.
Mississauga Accessibility Committee - March 2004
At the fourth attempt Stephen finally got to present to the Mississauga Accessibility Committee. Why four attempts? Well, the first was called off due to a blizzard, the third due to illness. The second attempt proved to be a bit of a saga when we couldn't open the doors to get Stephen out of the van!
So, it was a case of "fourth time lucky" for Stephen. He outlined CharterAbility's goals and described how he came up with the idea and found an ideal location in Port Credit. He also expressed his appreciation of the support andencouragement he had received along the way, particularly that of Carmen Corabasson, Councillor for Ward 1, and John Lohuis, Director of Recreation and Parks for Mississauga.
Not one for missing out on an opportunity Stephen "promoted" the May 27 Cruise for a Cause and sold ten tickets!
Roller Derby - March 2004
We decided to check out the deck arrangement for CharterAbility's proposed boat - in its original form and a newer, larger one. St. Jude's Church in Oakville offered us the use of its assembly hall and we set about taping the outline of the boat and its superstructure to the floor. Some twenty people with disabilities, most of them in wheelchairs arrived for a "test-ride." Andy Stanton from Hike Metal and Shaun Goodman from Toromont came along to give us the benefit of their expertise in boat construction. As usual, Tim Horton's supplied the coffee and donuts!
Several of our wheelchair passengers "went overboard" - highlighting the need for more space around the boat and to the rear of the galley. Suggestions were received regarding the accessible washroom and other aspects of the layout, and several people came up with ideas that we hadn't even considered!
All-in-all it proved to be an enjoyable and informative event. Now all we have to do is find a bigger hall to accommodate the larger "Mark II" version and do it all over again!
CharterAbility at the Toronto Boat Show - January 2004
CharterAbility's display at the Toronto Boat Show (January 9 - 18) proved to be a huge success. Our sincere thanks to Toromont CAT for allowing us to share their stand. A special word of appreciation to Toromont's Sean Goodman for making it possible and for his unfailing support throughout.
Despite the snow and the chill, Stephen was on the stand every day encouraging people to sign the guest book, asking them to complete a questionnaire (and win a prize), and explaining what we are trying to accomplish. In between times he didn't miss an opportunity to visit other exhibitors and ask for their support. Many expressed interest, others went further and offered products and services. Board members and volunteers made sure that Stephen had plenty of company throughout the ten days.
Prizes were donated by the Waterfront Hotel (overnight stay for two), RAGZ (adult and child sweaters), Toromont (winter jacket), and Nautical Adventures (four cruises for two on board the SS Empire Sandy).
Clearing the Decks - December 2003
Pre-Christmas we made some inroads into dealing with the thousand and one loose ends from an eventful few months. We also began canvassing organizations to act as a lead sponsor for our application for funding to the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Before Christmas was over we set about preparing for the Toronto Boat Show. Although we decided to skip a few things on our 200 item checklist we managed to get the display designed, printed and set up in time - together with flyers, questionnaires, business cards, newsletters, and a visitors book - but what a rush!.
Look Who's Talking About Us
"What a worthwhile effort. I look forward to my first trip."Barbara Turnbull
"I am sure you will join me in commending the members of CharterAbility for their dedication to ensuring that Ontarians with disabilities can experience the tremendous beauty of Lake Ontario." The Honourable Jim Bradley, Ontario Minister of Tourism and Recreation
"I trust you will find the organization as full of promise and potential as I have." Kevin Flynn, M.P.P. Oakville Ontario
"I believe the service you provide will benefit people with disabilities in helping them to develop their abilities, participate in the community and lead happier, more fulfilling lives." Carmen Corbasson, Mississauga Councillor, Ward 1
"We extend our congratulations and gratitude to Mr. Cull who has the vision, will and ability to translate the desire for an accessible waterfront into the development of a wonderful service that will advance this objective."Marlaine Koehler, Project Director, Waterfront Regeneration Trust
"As an agency that supports over two hundred people with disabilities I can tell you that first-hand that many would welcome this opportunity"Morag Fraser, Director of Attendant Services, Participation House
"Until now, it has been impossible for our members to have access to one of the most important and enjoyable features of our community, Lake Ontario. I feel certain that they will take advantage of this opportunity to enjoy the water and all that that can entail." Nancy Milne, Executive Director, Mississauga Multiple Sclerosis Society
All Aboard - November 2003
It will be full steam ahead for the Capital Campaign that got underway in September.Corporate and Municipal partners will be joined by a full complement of shipmate volunteers from collaborating health service organizations in the Region of Halton and Peel. The target amount of $500,000 will go toward the construction and launch of the charter boat.
The sponsorSHIP Program has received strong initial support from ship outfitters and contractors, who will be supplying some of the required materials and logistics at cost.
Ship Shape - October 2003
Captain Eric Rogers, P.Eng., completed his research and design specification of the vessel a 55' by 23' catamaran capable of carrying up to 50 passengers. A fully equipped galley (bar and kitchen), and accessible washroom will also be accommodated on the single deck, A solid canopy fitted with retractable curtains will cover almost the entire length of the boat. A number of other innovative features will be also be incorporated to the deck design.
Cruise for a Cause - September 2003
It was a calm evening embraced by the amber setting sun as the Wayward Princess cast-off from Oakville Harbour with Captain Rogers at the helm. Some 251 people, 15 of them in wheelchairs, enjoyed a splendid dinner, good company, and the sight of a full harvest moon reflecting on rippling water. A night to remember.
The evening also provided an opportunity for some of the launch crew to meet Tom Redpath who volunteered his marketing skills and experience in start-ups and the not-for-profit sector. Tom's creativity and knowledge were put to good use later in the month as CharterAbility prepared its first application for funding.
click here for more...
All Aboard - August 2003
August flew by as the team got busy making arrangements for the cruise, drumming up support and selling tickets. Stephen burned up the rubber visiting businesses in downtown Oakville enlisting their support in the form of deck prizes and "treats" for our guests on the pier and on the boat, before and after the cruise. The response was overwhelming.
The Crewmates - July 2003
The first meeting of the Launch Crew took place on July 16. Stephen welcomed aboard Eric Rogers, Deborah Dennison, Dion Sceats, Laurie Campbell and Alan Tonge all of whom had a sincere interest in working with local associations and members of the disabled community to get this project launched!
One of the items on the agenda was to raise some working capital. Eric Rogers offered to place one of his vessels at the disposal of CharterAbility. Arrangements were made on the spot for dinner cruise on the evening of September 11 out of Oakville harbour.
A Call to Action - May 2003
A chance meeting with Alan Tonge resulted in a lively two-hour discussion and a challenge to "Come up with a plan, call a meeting, and get this boat on the water Š by Canada Day next year!"
During the next few weeks Stephen inundated Alan with information he'd collected on his journey, the thoughts he'd committed to paper and, more importantly, his vision.
Together they thrashed out a plan and located a boat service in the UK that had been operating for 20 years and could serve as a model. It was time to assemble a "Launch Crew."
click here for more...
Testing the Waters - Fall 2002
With guidance from HRDC, Stephen teamed up with Deborah Dennison and others to undertake a study of the potential market. A questionnaire was designed, visits were arranged and people were polled to determine their level of interest and the type of services they would be looking for. The resulting analysis indicated a strong desire for a charter boat service and confirmed the suitability of the Port Credit location.
Our Jolly Roger - Fall 2002
Stephen felt he needed some help and talked with Transport Canada about naval architects and engineers who might be willing to offer advice. He was directed to Captain Eric Rogers of Nautical Adventures who operated two charter vessels out of Toronto and was a qualified naval engineer.
Eric's response to the concept was positive and enthusiastic. Not only did he support the idea but offered to help in any way possible. Although Stephen didn't know it at the time this relationship was to prove invaluable.
Build a What? - Summer 2002
Stephen directed his search for boat builders in Canada willing an able to design and construct the type of vessel that would be required. He discussed the possibilities with severalbut only a few were interested in a specially equipped catamaran and those that were indicated the price of a "one-off" would be prohibitive
By chance, Stephen came across a yard in Newfoundland offering catamarans built under license to a British design and willing to tailor them to meet the CharterAbility's needs
Surfing for Charters - Spring 2002
Stephen looked high and low, throughout Canada, the United States, Australia, and Europe for charter boat services already in being - all from the comfort of his home PC. Many of them were converted fishing boats taking a few passengers at a time but not in groups which is what Stephen had in mind.An operation in Florida looked promising but was it suitable for Lake Ontario?
Safe Harbour - Fall 2001
Stephen visited harbours between Hamilton and Oshawa before coming to the conclusion that Port Credit could be an ideal location.
He approached Carmen Corbasson the local councillor who was enthusiastic and offered her support. Shortly afterwards Stephen was invited to meet with the City of Mississauga's Recreation and Parks Executive Director, John Lohuis and members of his staff.
Initial discussions indicated a sincere interest in providing barrier-free access to waterfront activities. The following week Stephen met with the harbour manager at Port Credit for an on-site survey and he knew that he'd found his home port.
click here for more...
Cast your Line! - Fall 2001
A conversation with a past president of the March of Dimes, the late Jeannette Shannon who was one of Stephen's mentors, convinces him to begin the long journey of discovery.
Is anyone operating a charter boat service for people with disabilities - anywhere? Which harbours in the GTA are accessible and within easy reach of public transport? What are the docking facilities like? Who could build a barrier free boat?
The breaking wave - Summer 2001
The concept for CharterAbility began to emerge one weekend in 2001 as Stephen Cull watched people enjoying a beautiful summer's day on and around the shores of Lake Ontario. Observing the lack of wheelchairs, other than his own, he began wondering what he could do to change things. Over the course of the next couple of months he formed a picture of what had to be done to provide a charter boat service for people with disabilities.