A MONTH IN THE LIFE OF THE WRIGHTS: JULY 1918
Posted on 20 July 2020
For the first time, Orville Wright spends his summer vacation at his summer home on Lambert Island, in Georgian Bay in Canada.
Thirteen years after the Wright Brothers’ historic first heavier-than-air flight in 1903, and four years after Wilbur's untimely death in 1912, Orville was left despondent, directionless, and alone. His depression lasted for years, and his health began to fade. A friend, desperate to help, encouraged Orville Wright to travel to the Georgian Bay in 1917, where they hoped he would rejuvenate his shattered spirit and restore his failing health. Inspired by the natural beauty of the bay and invigorated by its crisp air Orville slowly began to recover. Then he noticed Lambert Island, with its neglected cottage and overgrown property, and saw in it something he could pour his heart and soul in. Wright purchased the property and spent two years restoring it. With each nail hammered and each coat of paint brushed, his spirit slowly lifted. Between 1916 and 1941, Orville and his sister Katherine journeyed from their home in Dayton, Ohio spending relaxing summers at Lambert Island. They relished the simple lifestyle and rugged beauty of the Georgian Bay, often accompanied by family members and a host of visitors.
In 1918, Orville made extensive renovations to the primitive buildings on Lambert Island, creating a main cottage he named the Cliff House, a guest house, pump house, ice house, boathouse, a water tower and a unique funicular railroad used to carry guests and supplies to the top of the 60-foot cliff.
Katharine Wright and Scipio on Lambert Island about 1920. Milton Wright's death in 1917 left an emotional vacancy that the two remaining Wrights decided to fill with a puppy. Orville bought a St. Bernard pup in New Jersey and had him shipped to Dayton, Ohio. Katharine named him "Scipio" after the famous Roman general that had defeated Hannibal and thwarted an invasion of Rome. The dog was much loved.
Orville developed a passion for motorboating, and in 1931 he bought this beautiful 32-foot mahogany cruiser from the Gidley Boat Company in Penetanguishene. Named the KittyHawk, after the location where he and his brother made history in 1903. The KittyHawk was one of the fastest and most elegant boats around, and Orville enjoyed countless afternoons racing about the waters.
A view of Lambert Island from the air.