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Day-tripping


History takes sail with the Grace Anne II


By Gordon Gage


Grace Anne II interior.


to the town of Kenora, Ont., nestled on the shores of Lake of the Woods. Tis vast body of water borders the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba and the state of Minnesota. Stunningly, Lake of the Woods con- tains over 14,500 islands, spans 2,400 square kilometres and boasts 105,000 kilometres of shoreline. Tose emerald forested islands sit on the sparkling blue waters of a unique lake that’s not only a popular vacation destination summer and winter, it also happens to be one of the best boating lakes in the world. Rich in history from the time of the


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earliest First Nation’s people to the ex- plorers opening the west with the fur trade and beyond, Lake of the Woods has been home to all kinds of watercraft meeting the needs of the time. One of the finest examples of the boat building industry that began in Ontario in the early 1900s is the Grace Anne II, an eighty-five-foot yacht. She was built in 1931 by the Ditchburn Boat Manu- facturing Company in Orillia, Ont. Te Grace Anne II’s story began in 1893 when Grace Anne Forlong’s fa- ther, Alexander MacDonald, owner of MacDonald Consolidated, built a sum-


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ust to the east of Winnipeg, the beginnings of the Canadian Shield rise up from the flat Prairie land- scape. A two hour drive brings you


Grace Anne II was built in 1931.


mer home on Coney Island. He left the property to his daughter and her husband John Forlong who both loved to explore the lake by boat. In 1930, wishing to upgrade from his first Grace Anne yacht named after his wife, John Forlong commissioned the Ditchburn Boat Works with the building of the Grace Anne II. Te Forlong family entertained many of their guests on afternoon and over- night cruises around the lake offering them a chance to enjoy the incredible scenery in the comfort of the finest yacht to ply these waters. Guests were accommodated in five


staterooms below deck and enjoyed meals and the pleasures of cruising in the lounging and dining salon while surrounded by the richness of Cuban mahogany walls and flooring. No ex- pense was spared when it came to en- suring all the comforts of home were available while exploring the lake. From her beginnings as a privately owned yacht, she was sold in 1946 to


Ralph Erwin, then owner of the Salis- bury House restaurant chain who oper- ated the Grace Anne II as a cruise ship for hire. In 1954, the 3M Company took over the yacht as she became host to many executives serving the market- ing needs of the 3M Company. Gliding across mystic Lake of the


Woods, the Grace Anne II emerges from the past with it’s classic beauty and elegance intact. With gleaming mahogany decks and staterooms, Per- sian carpets and leaded glass, the Grace Anne II will transport you to another era when silverware, fine linens, and white-gloved service were the unques- tioned accoutrements on a wilderness excursion. Impeccable service traditions carry on from days when the previous 50-year owner, 3M Company, enter- tained Fortune 500 executives during exclusive retreats. Welcome aboard and prepare to be enchanted. For more information on renting the


Grace Anne II for your event visit www. graceanne.com.


The Hub


Photos supplied.


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