The Hutchinson commuter was originally built in 1915 for Mr. Frederick B. Lovejoy of NYC, as the “Onondaga III”. In 1926, it was purchased by Cleveland E. Dodge of New York City. The Dodge family of Goose Island renamed her “Wild Goose”. In 1930, the Dodge family moved into their newly constructed summer home in Canadian waters on Arabella Island, and renamed it Wild Goose Island.
The Wild Goose served the Dodge’s as a source of beauty, great pleasure, and practical River transport for over 80 years, and carried members of the family and their guests to many events ranging from births and weddings, to picnics, river tours, and funerals. There were always pleasurable trips to Kingston, Clayton, and Alexandria Bay.
In the summer of 1971, Mr. and Mrs. Dodge rode in the Wild Goose for the Antique Boat parade, accompanied by a number of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It was a beautiful day on the River and great fun for all the family. Later that night, Mrs. Dodge passed away peacefully in her sleep at the island. She was taken to the funeral home in Kingston the next morning in Wild Goose.
Wild Goose was built in 1915 in Alexandria Bay by Hutchinson Boat Works. She is 40 feet in length and has a beam of only seven feet. This mahogany commuter has very sweet lines. The bow gracefully rises up as you move forward on the hull. This shear line gives Wild Goose a proud profile. The entry at the bow is very sharp and is accentuated by a curved brass striker plate that knifes through the waves.
The helmsman and mate sit forward of the engine in an open cockpit, added by Mr. Dodge sometime in the early 30s. The helm wheel and controls are to starboard, and there is a chrome-framed windshield to help protect the driver and mate from wind and spray. The engine hatch and motor are between the forward cockpit and the passenger compartment. Passengers are protected by a rather long bimini top, which also has side curtains. The canvas top is black waterproofed canvas, and [the way it is framed] gives the appearance of an antique carriage. Passenger seating under the bimini is in wicker chairs that can accommodate four to six guests. And aft of the covered salon is a stern seat and two more deck chairs. So, including the helmsman and mate, Wild Goose can seat about a dozen owners and guests.
This lovely Hutchinson Brothers-built high-speed launch originally had a 150 horsepower Sterling gasoline engine. It was later repowered by a more powerful Chrysler V-8, which is the power plant today. Milton Carnegie of Grindstone Island replaced the transom, dashboard, keel, and some forward frames. Only one topside board was said to have been replaced at that time. The boat was lovingly cared for by island boatmen, first Irwin Turcotte, then Les Cook and Jack Gray from Gananoque.
The transom on Wild Goose is unique. It is split down the middle, and angles forward. We have seen few classic boats with this transom design. It seems to fit Wild Goose’s long, low profile, and the name of the yacht is on name board up forward on the hull. Her narrow beam, split transom and long curving shear give Wild Goose an elegant look on the waters of the St. Lawrence River. It is always to thrill to hear the Wild Goose start up, with a low, soft purr as it idled at the dock, then to pull away and feel the elegant slide of the ride as the boat cut through the water like a knife.
Cleveland Dodge Sr. died in 1982, and the boat was passed on to his son, Cleveland E. Dodge Jr., and his daughter, Joan Dodge Rueckert of Grindstone Island. In 2008 The Wild Goose was donated to the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton. The 40-foot Hutchinson was then fully restored by the ABM staff and volunteers. This restoration took over two years. During that time the classic commuter was upside down in the ABM work shed where visitors and members could watch the restoration.
In 2014, the Wild Goose was re-christened by the Dodge and Rueckert families [of Grindstone Island] in the large boathouse at ABM. Champagne toasts and tributes were all part of the re-christening ceremony. Anne and I attended the re-christening which was held in the McNally Boathouse. This was a thankful move as it was incredibly hot that afternoon for the Thousand Islands.
River artist Michael Ringer painted a profile of Wild Goose steaming down the St Lawrence. This handsome painting shows off the fine lines of Wild Goose. Prints and giclée’s of the commuter are for sale at the Ringer galleries.
Author’s note: I wish to thank Sally Dodge for her generous input and assistance in the writing of this article.
By Rick Casali
Rick Casali is a resident of Wellesley Island. During his youth, his parents had a cottage from 1947 to 1965 named The Orchards on Grindstone Island. Rick now splits his time between Stuart, Florida and the River. He worked for Columbia Gas System for 29 years, and ran their Washington, DC office. Then in 2000, he started brokering boats and yachts, and continues as a broker with North Point Yacht Sales. Rick and his wife Anne cruise the River in a 26’ Lyman “Turtles”, a Seaway 21 center console and a catboat named “Tango”. They live on Tennis Island North on Wellesley Island. See all of Rick Casali's TI Life articles here.
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