Island lost a champion historian on New Year’s

Doug Tracy was known for his historical presentations at a number of Island events such as Haweater Weekend, of which he is cited as a founding member.

LITTLE CURRENT—Doug Tracy passed away on New Year’s Day, but his legacy will live on with such events as the annual Little Current Lions Club Haweater Weekend, of which he was a founding driving force, and in the work he accomplished with the Island’s genealogical and historical societies.

A Haweater through and through, Mr. Tracy’s Island pedigree is as firm as any non-Native’s could practically be, with a progenitor traced back to William Tracy and an 1820 homestead located in Carnarvon Township. 

Along with Honora Bay’s Doug Hore and Gerry Bond, Mr. Tracy was one of the driving forces behind the creation of Haweater Weekend, and is largely credited with the creation of the Haweater Dollar.

“When it comes to the Haweater coin, he was the boy,” said Mr. Hore, who as a contemporary of Mr. Tracy when it came to his Lions Club days. “In fact, it was Doug who brought me into the Lions Club. He was instrumental in the horse show and the midway every year.”

Like many people who remember him down through the years, Mr. Hore recalled his friend as a “persistent” individual.

That persistence didn’t always endear him to those who didn’t share his vision, but all agree that he was the kind of man who would drive an idea to a conclusion. “He is going to be missed,” said Mr. Hore.

Don Cooper, Doug Hore and Doug Tracy were special guests at the opening ceremonies, all having been part of the first Haweater 50 years ago.

Manitoulin Genealogical Society member Norma Hughson also recalled Mr. Tracy’s persistence and drive. “He often had good ideas,” she said. “His family came here early and I believe they were on the ship that burnt in Manitowaning Bay. The story went that they only escaped with what they could carry; the rest went down with the ship. He was active with just about every historical society on the Island at one time or another.”

Another legacy of Mr. Tracy is a database he founded, Manitoulin Family Trees, an index that has expanded to include some 31,000 families—some of the entries go as far back as the 1700s. It can be found on the website.

He also received permission from Jack McQuarrie to index the famous ‘Through the Years’ pamphlets published by Mr. McQuarrie when he ran The Recorder and a printing company in Gore Bay.

In a 2012 Expositor ‘Now and Then,’ contributor Petra Wall noted of Mr. Tracy: “It seems that his personal history of family, work, friendship and research, all coexist on Robinson Street in Little Current. They say if you are born on Manitoulin you are related to half the people here. If you then marry a Manitouliner, you are related to the other half. ‘I guess I am in the first group,’ Doug sums up, ‘but my research has brought me close to being in the second group. The people here are special. Since I have been working on family trees, I have come to appreciate the work of our ancestors. I never pass a stone pile in the center of a field without thinking about our hard-working pioneer families that helped make Manitoulin what it is today: A unique, friendly and spiritual place to live’.”