The Buckeye Story: A Family Tradition

Wow, 75 years! It is truly a privilege to be part of the Buckeye family legacy that has lasted more than 7 decades and four generations.

Great Grandfather Tom Thompson started the business in 1949 when he bought the bait and tackle shop along-side the motel in downtown Bobcaygeon. Nana Joyce ran Buckeye Centre Motel initially with Great Grandmother Rosa, and then on her own for the next 60 plus years! Papa Frank Poole joined “Buckeye Tourist and Sporting Enterprises” (known simply as “Buckeye”) and brought mechanical expertise with him to add boat and motor rentals and subsequently sales to the business. Although all family members have worked at the business from the time they could count worms and fill the pop cooler, the third generation of the Poole family came on board full time starting with Frank and Joyces son Gary, in 1979. His brother David got involved full time in 1987, followed by their brother Chris in 1989. The three brothers expanded the business to the point that they outgrew the downtown store and so in 1989 the boat sales and service departments were relocated to the current 5-acre location at Kawartha Lakes Road 36 just south of town. In addition to boat sales and service, fiberglass repair and restoration facilities as well as on site storage was added. Lakeside Customworks our canvas and upholstery division was started by Gary’s wife, Debbie in 1982. In 2000 she built a shop next door to Buckeye Marine and in 2014 it officially became part of Buckeye.

The construction of the Buckeye Marine boat dealership facility
Buckeye Marine Today

The Buckeye brand has grown and evolved into several businesses over those 75 years and added more family members through the 4th generation. Under the expert leadership of David, the original bait and tackle shop separated from the marine business in 1996. As Buckeye Surf it continues to be a superb sporting goods and clothing store and remains a centre piece of the downtown core with David and his wife Monica’s sons, Craig and Taylor, now at the helm. Next door, the Buckeye Centre Waterfront Suites motel continues to welcome guests, at the original, but beautifully renovated and updated Bolton Street location. In addition, Dave and Monica have added Kawartha Lifestyles, with its exceptional selection of stylish clothing, and Stonyhurst Motel across the river from Buckeye Surf…all prominently located in downtown Bobcaygeon.

Starting in 2011, through the vision and leadership of Chris, Buckeye Marine opened a satellite location, Muskoka Boat Gallery, focusing on Mastercraft Boat sales in the Muskoka lakes region. In 2013 Chris, along with his children Logan, Jenna and Mariah, took over sole ownership of this Muskoka dealership which they continue to grow and expand selling and servicing a number of brands in the Muskoka market.

Chris Poole's Muskoka Boat Gallery in the Muskoka Region

In 2013 upon Gary’s passing, Debbie, Carly and Jay Poole took over sole ownership of Buckeye Marine and continue to keep the family business tradition rolling. Gary’s influence in the family business, the boating industry and in the lives of Buckeye Friends and Family was immense and will be felt for years to come. He is remembered fondly every day.

We work hard to keep the lessons we learned from our forefathers alive and well. The Buckeye legacy, started with Tom and Rosa and has succeeded through generations. While a lot has changed over the many years the legacy of our business is kept alive through the hard work and dedication exhibited by our fantastic team. We have learned over 75 years that working hard, instituting positive change, taking care of customers and having an exceptional team of employees is the key to our future succeeding 4 generations of family and customers a like.

— Debbie Poole