North Channel Anchor program launches in Little Current

Spider Bay Marina Manager Reid Taylor, left, and Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands Mayor Al MacNevin present boaters O.H. and Mary Rodgers of The Cottage with the North Channel Marine Tourism Council’s (NCMTC) Travelling Anchor during a program launch ceremony held on the waterfront of Manitoulin’s Port of Little Current while members of the NCMTC staff and board look on.

LITTLE CURRENT—In this world of information overload it can be hard to stand out from the crowd, but the North Channel Marine Tourism Council (NCMTC) has come up with a plan to raise awareness of what is recognized as the “Best Freshwater Boating in the World” the council hopes will float with both visitors and residents. Two innovative programs were launched June 21 during a ceremony held on the waterfront of Manitoulin’s Port of Little Current.

The first of these programs, the somewhat counterintuitively named “Anchor program,” seeks to link boating history with the 21st Century by harnessing the power of social media through the use of the hashtag #NCDiscover and a travelling life ring. The idea is simple enough, a white life buoy will be passed from vessel to vessel by boaters travelling the water of the North Channel of Lake Huron throughout the boating season. Each boat crew will sign the buoy with a provided indelible marker and be encouraged to take a “selfie” with the buoy at one of their favourite anchorages in the North Channel—posting the image on social media using the hashtag #NCDiscover.

The life ring bears the North Channel Marine Tourism name on one side and the hashtag #NCDiscover on the other.

The life ring was presented to its first hosts, O.H. and Mary Rodgers from the vessel The Cottage.

“This is really quite exciting,” said Mary Rodgers. “We can’t wait to pass it on and to see all of the photos posted this summer.” She explained that her family is Canadian (although being born in the States, she is “technically American”), while her husband O. H. is American. “So building bridges is a family thing.”

The second program, the Passport to the North Channel, will encourage boaters to visit various communities located on the North Channel. Participants can pick up a “passport” at NCMTC member communities and get the passport stamped in the communities they visit. When they have collected 10 stamps, the passport can be sent in to NCMTC and the boater will be mailed a certificate recognizing them as an Admiral of the North Channel.

“The NCMTC is a totally volunteer-driven organization,” said NCMTC Chair Stan Ferguson during the launch ceremony. “We have been very fortunate to have committee members like Karen Bittner of Blind River, Laura McRae of Hilton Beach and Pierre Paquette of Killarney sitting on our marketing committee. They came up with these concepts, but it is one thing to come up with an idea and to talk about it and another thing completely to make it work.”

North Channel Cruiser’s Net radio host Roy Eaton, who is also a NCMTC board member, emceed the launch ceremony.

“These programs will help spread the friendship and build community among the boaters who are drawn to explore these beautiful waters,” said Mr. Eaton.

Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands Mayor Al MacNevin lauded the NCMTC for its ongoing efforts to raise the profile of the region.

“I know our community and our council have always been very supportive of the work of the NCMTC,” said Mayor MacNevin. “We are very appreciative of their tireless efforts to raise awareness of the unique opportunities our marine communities have to offer our boating visitors.”

A second program launch ceremony will be held in Sault Ste. Marie later this month.

The marketing projects were made possible through the support of Tourism Northern Ontario and grants from the two community development corporations whose catchment areas straddle the North Channel region.

The NCMTC is a destination marketing organization focussed on the marine communities of the North Channel of Lake Huron that has been marketing the North Channel region for nearly 30 years. The North Channel of Lake Huron stretches from the entrance to Georgian Bay at Killarney to the mouth of the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie.