Founded in 1942 by the Ballantine family, Grassmere Boat Works (as it was originally known) was operated by Kenneth Ballantine, a Canadian soldier who served during World War II (his father Francis ran the company during his son’s absence overseas). The name came from the small Hamlet in which it was founded: Grassmere, located just north of Huntsville in Muskoka. The Ballantines were among the first settlers in Grassmere in the 1870s and soon became the backbone of the community. Among their legacies are the local post office, which was opened and run by the family for generations, as well as the local Grist Mill on the creek that now bares the family’s name.
Following Kenneth’s death in 1976, the company was purchased by Dave Mahon, a teacher from Bracebridge. He ran it part-time until his retirement in 1992, when he and his wife Heather took up the business full-time. In 1980 when Don Starkwell and his two sons departed in a canoe from Winnipeg en route to the Amazon River, they took Grassmere Paddles with them. The adventurous canoeists completed one of the longest trips on record (approximately 12,200 miles), and arrived home with the paddles still intact.
The current incarnation of Grassmere Paddles came about in 2011, when master boat-builder Peter Stanfield of Bracebridge bought the company. With over 30 years of experience building and restoring antique wooden Muskoka Boats, Peter is ready to deliver the quality craftsmanship for which Grassmere has been known for nearly 70 years