Prov’s last garage closes, community thanks proprietors

PROVIDENCE BAY—Seventy-five people enjoyed a delicious pancake breakfast at the Providence Bay Curling Rink on April 4 as they gathered to wish popular couple Sandy and Elaine Denovan a happy retirement.

The Denovans are retiring after owning a Providence Bay garage for the last 46 years. Mr. Denovan, who worked at the Eaton’s store in Toronto, came to Manitoulin for the first time in 1966 along with Stu Cuthbertson and Neil McArthur who were building the Huron Sands and wanted to see how construction was coming along.

On one of the trips to the Island, the men were stopped by the police for a broken licence plate light. They brought the car to a garage in Providence Bay owned by Cam and George Gordon to be fixed. “There are the tools, fix it yourself,” George told Mr. Denovan, and after that, whenever Sandy came to Manitoulin, George would have work lined up at the garage for him to do.

In 1967, Mr. Denovan bought the garage. He had been asked to manage the Huron Sands in the spring of 1967 and did so from May to October when he took over the garage.

Mr. Denovan has seen many changes in Providence Bay since he and Elaine moved there and said, “In one way there is a lot of change in Prov and in some ways there hasn’t been many changes. I can remember when there were five restaurants in Prov. The Schoolhouse Restaurant was a schoolhouse when we moved here and there were a lot of vehicles with Ohio licence plates on them. And I was here when the salmon came here. They were planted by Michigan and I saw them come here. I can remember people walking up to the motel, carrying salmon by the gills and the tails were dragging on the sidewalk, that’s how big they were.”

Mr. Denovan plans on enjoying his retirement working in his yard and around the house. He is also an avid stamp collector. In the past, Mr. Denovan planted 1,000 red pine, 500 spruce and 200 white pine on the seven acres he and his wife own in Providence Bay.

Mrs. Denovan, originally from New York City and Bermuda, is also happy to be residing in this part of Manitoulin. “I am happy to be here,” she said as people continued to wish her well, complete with hugs. “People have been so good to us.”

And the compliments for the Denovans from Islanders were abundant. “Elaine is the best friend I’ve ever had,” said Becky Smith. “I don’t know what I would do without her.”

“Thanks for all your fill-ups, no matter what the weather,” added Sharon Dewar. “And thanks, Elaine, for all the care and attention you gave my mother-in-law. She loved those times.”

Lyle Dewar also wanted to thank Mr. Denovan for all his work over the years. “Sandy, we were on the fire team together,” said Mr. Dewar. “And thanks from the Fair Board and thanks for the many years of service you have given Providence Bay and surrounding area.”

“You are so big a part of this community,” added Shirley Cranston, while Glenn and Judy Black said thank you to the Denovans for being there for all the years.

The retirement breakfast was hosted by the Providence Bay Coffee Club and all profits will go to the junior curlers program run by the Providence Bay Curling Club.

Betty Bardswich