Fred Buchanan

Fred & Frank Buchanan


Testing new engines prior to shipping


F.L. Buchanan Limited Assembly line
circa 1930’s




















































































































































1942 Peterborough 18’ Zephyr Deluxe


About Buchanan Marine Appraisal

We appreciate the opportunity to familiarize you with our business and the services we offer.

Buchanan Marine Appraisal Services Limited is a consulting firm specializing in providing Marine Survey and Damage Appraisal services to private Individuals, Marina operators, Insurance Companies and Financial Institutions.

Our principal business is acting as a Marine Surveyor and Appraiser, providing Small Craft Condition and Valuation Surveys for Pre-Purchase and Insurance Underwriting purposes, as well as acting as an Independent Appraiser for Insurance companies in settling marine loss claims. Buchanan Marine Appraisals was established in 1988 and R.F. David Buchanan is the principal of the company.  David has a lifetime of hands-on marine experience, having worked in the industry dating back to summer jobs as a teenager, then continuing on with a full time career at the marina level before entering the Marine Survey field.

Since its inception, Buchanan Marine Appraisal Services Limited has performed surveys on all types of pleasure craft, ranging in size from 14' up to 65' in length. Let the experience we have gained over the years work for you.                                    


Our Roots

In 1923, F.L. (Fred) Buchanan established F.L. Buchanan Limited in Orillia, Ontario and started manufacturing and marketing Buchanan Marine Engines from his factory at 129 Front Street. Shortly after the formation of the business, Frank Buchanan (David’s grandfather) joined his brother and together they developed and produced a strong and reliable product that found its way into many of the now classic Muskoka boats. Duke, Port Carling, Hunter and Greavette are just a few of the companies that installed Buchanan Marine Engines as original equipment over the years. Today, our firm surveys several boats each year that still have the original Buchanan engine installed and running, testament to the quality and reliability of the product produced by David’s ancestors.

R.G. (Bob) Buchanan (David’s father) joined the family business shortly after being discharged from the Navy, post World War II, and worked primarily in the sales and marketing departments until the early 1970’s. Although David never worked in the family business, many days were spent traveling with his father on sales and service calls and just hanging out on the factory floor.

It is in this family tradition that David Buchanan formed Buchanan Marine Appraisal Services Limited in 1988. Buchanan Marine Appraisal Services Limited and David Buchanan are dedicated to providing their customers with the same dependable and reliable product the marine industry has come to associate with the Buchanan name since the early 1920’s.


History of F.L. Buchanan Limited by Don Hunter.
Copy was presented to Bob Buchanan by Mr. Hunter on its completion


The F. L. BUCHANAN LIMITED began in the flourishing economy of the 1920's during the development of the wooden pleasure boat era. Beautiful mahogany varnished finished power boats were being built by some of the best boat companies on the North American Continent. Ditchburn Boats Ltd. and The Port Carling Boat Works shipped boats to many countries of the world. Minett Shields, Greavette Boats Limited, Grew Boats Ltd., Ross Boat and Canoe Co. Hunter Boats Ltd., and Duke Boats Ltd. all built well known pleasure boats. These craft required the latest in high powered marine motor power. Buchanan was one of the highest quality suppliers. The company began in the year 1923 when F. L. (Fred) Buchanan established the F. L. BUCHANAN ENGINEER AND MACHINIST COMP ANY. This was a small machine shop operating in Orillia, managed by Fred Buchanan. It had two machinist employees.

Their first marine engine was a single cylinder, four cycle with hand crank or electrical starter, (optional), complete with a reverse gear. This unit developed up to four horse power.  This was followed closely with the production of "THE FIREFLY", which was a two cylinder motor developing 10 horse power.  It was complete with electric starter, and a reverse gear. Manufactured in 1925 and 1926, principally to meet the demand of The Port Carling Boat Works who were building a two pointed end lap stroke craft on a production line. They named this craft THE JOHNSTON SPECIAL since it was a 16 foot craft similar to that which had previously been built by William Johnston at Port Stanfield on the Muskoka Lakes and which was known as the DISPRO or DISAPPEARING PROPELLER Boat.

It was apparent that the small machine shop could not cope with the increased demand. A new plant at 129 Front Street South in Orillia was financed and built in 1926. The new building was built of brick and concrete construction, complete with a machine shop, motor assembly area, and engineering office, a motor test area, a stock room and administration offices. The company was incorporated and named F. L. BUCHANAN LIMITED.  F. L. (FRED BUCHANAN was the President and General Manager which included design engineering and supervision of production.  His brother FRANK BUCHANAN joined the company in 1926 and was the General Sales Manager.  MISS PHEMIE BEATON was in charge of accounting and administration. J. COWDEN WHITFIELD was in charge of the engineering office from the early 1930's until the late 1950's. BOB BUCHANAN (son of Frank) joined the company in 1948 was part of the sales force and worked with the company until 1968.  The company progressed rapidly during the 1920's and continued expansion of its motor models in spite of the depression of the 1930's.

From the time that the new plant was built in 1926 Buchanan engineered, designed and manufactured their own reverse gear units which were attached as an integral part of each motor.  The company also engineered and manufactured their own water jacketed manifolds and bronze helical gear water pumps, installed on all Buchanan marine motors. Other than the motor blocks, the electric starters, ignition system and generators, the Buchanan motor was an Orillia built product.

The manufacturing of four cylinder marine motors began in 1927.
1927 THE BABY FOUR was the first four cylinder motor that Buchanan built. It developed 13 horse power. This was a complete motor with reverse gear and electric starter (as all subsequent motors would be). The Baby Four was manufactured to compete with the Wisconsin four cylinder motors being shipped to Canada from the U.S.A.

1928 BUCHANAN MIDGET -a four cylinder that developed 25 horse power. Many of these units were manufactured with reduction gears, for installation as auxilliary power for cabin sailboats.

1928 THE BULLDOG FOUR -a four cylinder motor which developed 30 horse power.

1930 THE JUNIOR FOUR -a four cylinder motor developing 40 horse power. This model in 1931 was re-engineered to produce 50 horse power. In 1947, with the installation of twin carburetors, this model developed 67 horse power.

1932 THE JUNIOR SIX -a six cylinder motor developing 43 Y2 horse power.

1935 THE SENIOR SIX -a six cylinder motor which developed 72 horse power. It was re- engineered later to produce 78 horsepower. I

1936 THE ROCKET SIX -a six cylinder motor developing 85 horse power. (Later increased to 95 horse power).

1936 THE BUCHANAN EIGHT -was an eight cylinder motor which produced 114 horse power.

1945 BUCHANAN METEOR -a six cylinder motor which produced 105 horse power with single carburetor and 131 horse power with twin carburetors.

1946 THE JUPITER SIX -a six cylinder engine with single carburetor developed -160 horse power, (with dual carburetors this motor developed 200 horse power).

1946 THE SABRE MCL -a six cylinder motor with dual carburetors produced 175 horse power.

1946 BUCHANAN VEE DRIVE -A Buchanan unit produced with direct drive or reduction gear for VEE DRIVE installations, could be adapted to most Buchanan motors. This type became poplar for modem designed fiber glass pleasure craft.

MARINE ACCESSORY LINE -The company also manufactured and sold a complete line of marine accessories for prompt service to the boat building trade.

The BUCHANAN line of bronze helical gear water pumps from 3/8" diameter to 1 1/4" diameter was produced, some mounted as water pumping units, electrically or single cylinder air cooled, gasoline motor driven, self aligning shaft logs with bronze stuffing boxes for 3/4" diameter to 1 1/2" diameter shafting, bronze rudder stuffing boxes 3/8" to 2" diameter, a complete line of three blade bronze propellers, key seated and tapered to order, a full range of ignition and electrical, as well as marine motor repair parts for complete service were stocked for prompt service. The only non-marine line manufactured was a MARKER product for footballs fields and parking lots. During the war years, many Buchanan motors were required to power R.C.A.F. crash boats, bomb loading dinghies and Navy craft.

The Buchanan Company manufactured a high quality line of marine engines that developed over the years as the wooden pleasure boat industry also grew from the early 1920's to the 1960's. During the mid 1950's it became apparent that wooden built hulls for pleasure craft would give way to mass-produced fiberglass built hulls and that there was no way the old methods of construction could compete. Fibreglass hull design changed pleasure craft running lines, as well as power units that were built on large production lines which produced lighter and more powerful marine motors, many of the newer motors were equipped with inboard outboard stem drives. While Buchanan' s had also converted to this new drive system in the early 1960's they could not complete with the big production companies who had cut into their business seriously.

Forty five years of dedication and hard work to build F. L. Buchanan Ltd. had taken its toll on Fred Buchanan's health and the decision was made to sell the company in 1965. At the same time, many of the wood hull manufacturers were closing shop or downgrading their staff to a few expert builders who would build expensive custom built boats. Grew Boats Ltd. of Penetang, Ontario was one of a few who re-organized and built fiberglass boats.

F. L. Buchanan Limited was sold to Gill Wallis and Associate in 1967 and the new owner attempted to upgrade the operation with new high speed machinery to compete with the larger companies now producing marine engines. This was unsuccessful and the new owners were forced to sell the company in 1968.

PAL ENGINES INC. purchased the Buchanan plant, machinery and operation in 1969 and moved their special machinery in for engine re-building in the year 1970. This company carried on the Buchanan tradition, assembling and servicing many of the Buchanan marine motors, but a big part of their business was engine rebuilding for both the marine and automotive trades.

John and Edith Parry, together with an assistant whose name was Fred Ritter, had begun a small but successful automobile motor rebuilding business in East Oro, in 1938. During the year 1948, they purchased part of the Bums Glass Company on Dunedin St. in Orillia. By 1956 it was necessary to build an addition to the Dunedin St. operation. An automotive parts service was developing rapidly and the engine rebuilding was moved out to the Parry's new plant in the Forest Home Industrial Park, built in the year 1958. This new company was named INGENIOUS DEVICES LTD. By 1963 the motor block part of the business had established it's own identity as PAL ENGINES INC. It was now operated as a separate company. Further expansion required that they move to bigger space and under the direction of Fred Ritter they purchased the BUCHANAN PLANT in 1969. Under Fred's guidance, his sons Bruce and Rod Ritter ultimately ran Pal Engines until they discontinued operations in 1997.

PARRY AUTOMOTIVE LIMITED of 84 Dunedin Street in Orillia, absorbed the Pal Engine re-building part of the business, ceased operation and integrated with their own engine rebuilding operation. Engine block rebuilding and assembly was not new to this company, for they had been supplying F. L. Buchanan Ltd. with assembled blocks as far back as the late 1950's.

Parry Automotive Limited was an important part of the Parry operations. Edith Parry had taken over the ownership of the Orillia part of the operation in the year 1958. Her ability expanded and diversified the company, providing an excellent service for automotive parts to automobile garages throughout the area. PETER VAN KESSEL, as a very young man joined Parry Automotive in 1957 and gradually worked his way up into administration positions. He began purchasing stock in the company until he had 49% of the shares. He became a partner in 1966. Edith Parry owned the other 51 %. When Mrs. Parry passed away rather suddenly in 1977, Peter Van Kessel took over the management of the Orillia operation and ultimately purchased Edith Parry's 51% of the shares from the estate. By this time they had a division in North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie. The company has continued to grow and has increased its parts service and engine rebuilding divisions. The engine rebuilding division is very modem, using the latest in automotive machinery and technology to compete with others in the automotive and marine engine industry.  Separate operations were established and controlled by John Parry in Barrie, Guelph, Durham, Brampton and Newmarket Ontario between 1958 and 1963.

It is important to note that Parry Automotive Ltd. had a significant part to play with regard to the high standard of quality that the Buchanan engines enjoyed. Beginning in the late 1950's Parry Automotive supplied Buchanan' s with built up engine blocks to the stage of Buchanan assembling their own manufactured marine parts to complete the Buchanan engines ready for the market.
Parry Automotive, to this day, rebuilds Buchanan motors sent to them from many parts of Canada. Some of these motors are performing continuously in marine work, while others are for antique hulls being restored. Peter Van Kessel speaks well of the long association with the Buchanan operation over the years. The Buchanan manufacturing era ended with the death of Fred Buchanan who died in 1968, followed by Frank in February 25, 1987. Bob Buchanan had been in the Buchanan organization from 1948 to 1968 and remained in the marine motor business selling Volvo Marine units for Atlas Polar for 2 years, Dominion Auto Marine for two years selling Chrysler marine motors and Seamark Industries selling Boston Whaler boats until his retirement. He lives in Coldwater, Ontario. Special recognition and thanks is expressed to Bob for the valuable documents, sales literature and family history that he provided to the author so the details of this ALL CANADIAN -ORILLIA OWNED Company could be recorded.

Also, special thanks to Peter Van Kessel and his daughter, Susan of Parry Automotive Ltd., Orillia, Ontario and to Bruce Ritter of Pal Engines Inc. who assisted with special historic details of their association with the Buchanan organization.

Research completed and history written by: DONALD A. HUNTER, local historian - Orillia, Ontario
-copyright held by Hunter .






Growing up in the 1960’s, we spent our summers at the family cottage on Gloucester Pool, Ontario.  Our boat at the time was an early 1940’s Peterborough 18’ Zephyr Deluxe double cockpit mahogany runabout.

The boat was unceremoniously retired when I was around 10 years old and left abandoned for a few years until I eventually claimed it as my own as a teenager. 

Now, some 40 years later, and after a five year restoration project, the boat once again hit the water in September 2009.





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