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Captain's Historical Log

An End of Year "Thank-You". We owe a tremendous debt to a lot of people. We extend our thanks to the business owners, sponsors, and donors who make our annual cruises possible, as do our guests, many of whom come back year after year.

We would also like to express our thanks to the organizations, businesses, and volunteers who have contributed so much in turning our dream of accessible boating into a reality.

We can never thank you enough for your support but we invite you to drop by the dock next season to see, first hand, what you have accomplished.

PARDners Dock - December, 2008. A little snow didn't deter Mike and Joel of Aldershot Landscape from paving the site and getting it ready to receive planters and picnic tables ready for the 2009 boating season. A great job guys!

New Board Members - October, 2008. We welcomed three new board members this month - Oakville and Halton Councillor Fred Oliver, Downtown Timothy's owner Hasnain Moledina, and longtime CharterAbility volunteer, Julie Dean.

Oakville Cruise for a Cause - September 4, 2008. We wondered whether two cruises out of Oakville within three months was asking a little too much but the Wayward Princess was pretty full when it set sail on the rather choppy waters of Lake Ontario. No need to shake the martinis that night - but nobody complained!

Sixteen Mile Creek Inaugural Cruise - August 20, 2008. We are greatly indebted to Melissa Vassallo for making her 20 foot pontoon boat available to us for the cruises along the creek. On board for our inaugural trip were eight of the folks from the Allendale Seniors Home in Milton. It was calm waters, sun and blue sky all the way.

We can't put it better than one of our subsequent guests, Pamela Read, who wrote:

"Imagine for a moment the gentle lap of the water against your boat. A soft breeze tickles the hair on the back of your neck. Dappled sunlight peeks through the trees intermittently. And then, without warning, a heron takes flight in front of you. Its great wings lifting its body into the sky, and then another takes flight, and another. Now imagine this experience happening in the middle of downtown Oakville. You don't have to imagine it. You can experience it with CharterAbility. I did. And I'm in a wheelchair. Someone once said that the only true restrictions that exist are the ones we place on ourselves. CharterAbility has refused to subscribe to that philosophy. They believe that we all have the ability and with their help you too can take a memorable journey up 16 Mile Creek. I saw herons, swans, ducks, bitterns, hawks and turtles. And all of this within the city limits. I can't wait to take my next trip up 16 Mile Creek with CharterAbility."

Dion Sceats - August, 2008. We were saddened by the sudden death of one of CharterAbility's founding members, Dion Sceats. Dion, along with his late wife Doreen, were longstanding supporters of accessible boating, spending many hours discussing it with Stephen long before CharterAbility was formed.

Sadly, Dion passed away just a few days before our inaugural cruise on Sixteen Mile Creek. He would have loved to have been the captain for the day.

In Memorium...

Oakville Cruise for a Cause - June 5, 2008. Following a decision by the City of Mississauga to close Snug Harbour to larger vessels such as the Wayward Princess we had to call a halt to our annual cruises out of Port Credit; a major disappointment. Over the years the folks in Port Credit have welcomed us with open arms and given us incredible support. And, they know how to party! Although the venue was changed to Oakville we retained a little of the Port Credit spirit by having Chuck Jackson and his band along to get things a swingin'.

PARDners Dock - Spring, 2008. The dock area was the centre of activity as work proceeded with the rerouting of the water and electricity supplies, the leveling of the site, and the installation of the fencing for the boat storage compounds. The dock was completed, the washrooms delivered, and the park benches installed.

While all this 'groundwork' was taking place, our partner, Wai Nui Outrigger Canoe Club, was putting the facilities to good use.

PARDners Dock - December, 2007. We ordered the dock and washrooms, scheduling delivery for April of 2008, and put our minds to the funding of other some of the other items such as landscaping work, picnic tables, and planters.

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Oakville Cruise for a Cause 9 - September 6, 2007. It was another wonderful summer evening on the lake with the Wayward Princess full to overflowing. The evening got off to a flying start with the treats on the pier and the announcement of our $99,000 grant from The Ontario Trillium Foundation. After that, it was plain sailing all the way through a hugely enjoyable evening.

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The Town of Oakville - September 4, 2007. We finally sign a 20-year lease to the land adjoining 16 Mile Creek so that we can proceed with creating our accessible, recreational docking park.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation - June 28, 2007. We receive notification that our request for funding ($99,000) has been approved. Celebrations all round. And, our thanks to all those who made this possible.

Port Credit Cruise for a Cause 8 - May 31, 2007. Our eighth cruise. We've said it all before. The weather was good, our sponsors were terrific, our guests were great, and we all had a wonderful evening on Lake Ontario.

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Oakville Boating Symposium – March 7, 2007 CharterAbility and Wai Nui O Kanakā Outrigger Canoe Club put in a joint appearance at this years show to promote the PARDners Accessible Recreational Docking initiative. During the evening nobody put it better than World Champion and IOC Committee Member, Paul Henderson: “The Lake is why we all live here. You cannot build water access in some farmer's field in Brampton. Oakville has an unused, derelict piece of water access under a bridge downtown, which will provide a great legacy for able and disabled water use. My friend who is a quad loves the water for the same reason that I do: for the freedom. It is his joy as it is mine. Oakville has a vision, these people have a plan. Get it done now!”

PARDners Accessible Dock – January 2007 In September 2006, Wendy Rae Perkins of Wai Nui O Kanakā Outrigger Canoe Club got the ball rolling for an accessible dock under the Rebecca Street bridge on 16 Mile Creek. Since then, a small army of people have contributed their time and talents to developing a proposal that was received favourably by the Council of the Town of Oakville on February 13, 2007. An application for funding was submitted to the Ontario Trillium Foundation on March 1, 2007. If all goes according to plan, the dock and compounds will be in place for the 2007 boating season with completion of the entire project scheduled for Spring of 2008.

Oakville Cruise for a Cause 7 – September 7, 2006 Our fourth cruise out of Oakville on another sunny September evening. Some 215 guests sampled the treats on the pier before boarding the Wayward Princess and sipping on their complimentary martinis as we headed into the sunset. What better way to spend an evening than at a party on the lake in the company of family and friends?

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Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion – June 11, 2006 Once again, Stephen was a RHWIM Ambassador and CharterAbility a community sponsor of the event which, this year, was hosted by the Burloak Canoe Club. It was a beautiful day to wheel or walk through downtown Oakville in support of people with spinal cord injuries and the turnout was good with people of all ages demonstrating their support and raising funds. Oakville’s dignitaries turned up in force to show their support, their presence being much appreciated. And, our local sponsors excelled themselves in providing refreshments and marshalling services for the event. A lot of effort and an enjoyable day for a worthwhile cause

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Port Credit Cruise for a Cause 6 – June 1, 2006 Our third cruise out of Port Credit was welcomed by sunny skies and a calm lake. The pier was a hive of activity with artists painting and our guests enjoying their pre-cruise hors d’oeuvres and oysters. Once underway it didn’t take long for Chuck Jackson and his trio to “set the boat a rockin’” with his inimitable brand of blues and jazz music – the dance floor was packed! In between times our guests enjoyed their dinner, sampled a martini or a glass of wine, admired the sunset, and relaxed in the company of family and friends. Another great night on the lake.

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Breakfast at Timothy’s – May 28, 2006 A pre-event to promote the Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion day on June 11 sounded like a good idea. We debated for a while over “pancakes or crepes, maple syrup or fresh fruit, volunteer cooks or professional chefs.” As for the title, how many folks would make the connection with Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and did it matter? The chances are we will never know but the event was a lot of work, great fun, and a resounding success. Fruit crepes and coffee on a sunny Sunday in downtown Oakville is pretty good. Add to that a great bunch of volunteers for whom nothing is too much trouble and that’s pretty hard to beat. Five hundred crepes later we thought we had “done good.”

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Toronto International Boat Show – January 2006 For the third year in succession, CharterAbility was at the Toronto International Boat Show. This year we had the use of a boat provided by Two Harbours Marine moored in The Lake at the Ricoh Centre. Throughout the show the folks from iWave Wireless were on-hand to help with the sale of pullovers and promote CharterAbility along with our band of volunteers.

As always, we are indebted to Linda Waddell and Scott McInnes of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Linda makes our presence possible. Scott makes sure that we have all the support we need for a successful show. You really wouldn’t believe how much time and effort they put into helping CharterAbility – willingly, without fuss, and with class. “Thank you guys – yet again!”

Scotiabank Donation – November 2005
In September, Oakville’s downtown branch of Scotiabank “entertained” a film crew shooting a commercial. The branch manager, Kerith McLeod, arranged for the fee to be donated and split equally between two charitable organizations – the United Way and CharterAbility. An article in the Oakville Beaver featured Kerith and his staff presenting the cheque to Stephen. If you want to see a lot of smiling faces click here.

Way to go Scotiabank … and Thank You!

In-Water Boat Show – September 2005
Stephen and his friends from E-Z Dock were at the Toronto In-Water Boat Show again this year – held, as usual at Ontario Place. What a great location for a boat show! This time around we exhibited a Stanley boat supplied by Mike Lee of Two Harbours Marine. Despite some “patchy” weather, the show provided an excellent opportunity for Stephen to promote accessible boating and familiarize people with CharterAbility’s goals.

Cruise for a Cause – September 8, 2005
This year the weather was perfect for a cruise as the Wayward Princess pulled away from Oakville pier under a clear blue sky with 220 guests on board. Despite a couple of hitches our guests we were able to enjoy an evening on the lake, some splendid food, a few martinis for those who wanted to indulge, and best of all, the company of family, friends, and complete strangers. Another great night on the lake!

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Wheels in Motion – June 12, 2005
Stephen and his friends turned out in the rain to support people with spinal chord injuries and tripling the amount raised in Oakville last year. A $10,000 donation that we received helped considerably, with half going to the Rick Hansen Foundation. Although the donor wishes to remain anonymous we have expressed appreciation on behalf of both organizations.

Across Canada the Wheels in Motion event was a resounding success with donations reaching $1.8 million – a 55% increase over 2004

Rick Hansen – June 8, 2005
As a prelude to the Wheels in Motion Day, Rick Hansen visited Guelph University where he addressed a large gathering of supporters and people with spinal chord injuries, several of whom told of their experiences. Following Rick’s eloquent and motivating speech he made himself available to talk with members of the audience – including Stephen.

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Environment Canada – June 8, 2005
Being an enthusiastic supporter of CharterAbility, Juliana Molinari invited us to undertake another presentation to the folks at Environment Canada, this time at their Burlington location. As before, it was a real pleasure – a warm reception, great facilities, an attentive audience, and a barbecue in the grounds afterwards.

Cruise for a Cause – May 26, 2005
Barbara Turnbull was our guest of honour. Tim Peterson, MPP Mississauga South and Kevin Flynn, MPP Oakville, were on-hand to donate and wish us “bon voyage”. Also joining in were several of our supporters from the boating fraternity and guests that have been on every one of our cruises to whom we extend our sincere thanks. Blue skies, warm weather, a four hour cruise on a calm lake, and a spectacular sunset – what more could you ask for?

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Toronto International Boat Show - January 2005
CharterAbility enjoyed a successful ten days in the world's largest indoor marina at the Toronto International Boat Show 2005.

"Hang a wheelchair from the rafters of the Ricoh Centre," suggested Bill Milne of Alex Milne & Associates. With the enthusiastic support of Linda Waddell, Show Manager for the NMMA, Bill's suggestion became a reality. The chair hung above the promotional pontoon boat which sported the logos of some of CharterAbility's loyal supporters.

For the FIRST time in the 47-year history of the Toronto International Boat Show people in wheelchairs were able to board a boat at the show themselves without any assistance.

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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 somewhere warmer!

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.

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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 collection!

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!

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

 

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