Cruisers’ Net champ Roy Eaton receives Sovereign’s Medal

Manitoulin Cruiser's Net potluck gets ready for a special event, the presentation of a Governor General's Award for his volunteer work. Photo by Michael Erskine

LITTLE CURRENT—Friends, family and a good portion of the boating community gathered at the Rendezvous Pavilion in the Port of Little Current to honour Manitoulin Cruisers’ Net host Roy Eaton, a man who has done as much, if not more, to promote boating in the waters of Manitoulin Island and the North Channel than any other individual as he was awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.

Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin presented the award on behalf of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada and Queen Elizabeth II’s representative.

Mayor MacNevin pointed out that Mr. Eaton founded the Cruisers’ Net program that acts as a bond (and often lifeline) to those boating in the waters surrounding Manitoulin Island and has hosted the program for 15 years.

“What many of you may not know is that he has a long history of recognition for his endeavours related to recreational boating,” said Mayor MacNevin. “He has a lifetime membership in the Great Lakes Cruising Association, is active in America’s Great Loop Cruising Association, the Trailor Sailor’s Association, is a recipient of the Canadian Safe Boating Association Volunteer of the Year, is a lifetime member of the Sudbury Manitoulin Children’s Aid Society, was a Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands Senior Citizen of the Year, a recipient of the Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee Medal, a former educator and curling coach to my kids, and acts as an ambassador for the North Channel Marine Tourism Council when he flies from Florida to the Toronto Boat Show each year on behalf of NEMI, the NCMTC and the Anchor Inn Hotel to promote the region.”

Mayor MacNevin also gave a brief summary of the background to the medal, including the role of the monarchy in Canada’s parliamentary democracy. Many of those attending the end of year boaters’ potluck dinner where the award was presented are American and perhaps not all that familiar with the Canadian system.

The mayor then read out the citation recognizing Mr. Eaton’s contribution to the boating community before presenting him with the medal to a standing ovation.

Mr. Eaton was uncharacteristically given to having to clear his throat several times before being able to proceed with his comments, but very characteristically he thanked those who were honouring him and through the spotlight on his beloved wife Margaret, who he noted had just recently received an award of her own from the Shriners—the Dragon Award, presented to those who are dragged along by their spouses to countless events.

Once again turning serious, Mr. Eaton thanked those who had travelled to join him for this special day and thanked Bruce and Kelly O’Hare, Glen, Debby Turner and Paul Carney of the sailboat Medura “and those others who were part of this, those are just the ones I know of.”

Mr. Carney, one of the nominators of Mr. Eaton for the award, recounted some of the background of applying for the award. “When I went online and started putting in all of Roy’s accomplishments the system crashed,” he said. “Then I went to fill it out on paper and took it in and they wanted me to try putting it in again online so it would be sure to go in.”

Mr. Carney said that the first four people immediately agreed to write letters on behalf of the application. “But I know if I had asked a hundred people they would have jumped at the chance,” he said. “Roy, you have done so much for so many people. I now that anyone who has been touched by Roy knows that nobody could be more deserving of this honour.”

Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP, a close personal friend of Mr. Eaton was also on hand for the event and presented Mr. Eaton with a certificate of her own in honour of the occasion.