Public Works Canada to grant Island history buff right to maintain cemetery at historic Michael’s Bay

MICHAEL’S BAY—Tenacious is an apt word to describe Little Current history buff Doug Tracy, although persistent, passionate and determined are also appropriate appellations. This week a temporary licence permitting entry to the Michael’s Bay Cemetery (registered site #02258) for the sole purposes of watering existing flowers, cutting the grass and raking leaves arrived with Mr. Tracy’s name on it.

The Michael’s Bay property is currently under the stewardship of Public Works and Government Services Canada, Seized Property Management Directorate, having been seized on behalf of the Belgian government as the proceeds of crime. The property, which comprises more than 600 acres on Manitoulin Island’s south shore and which contains the remnants of the historic ghost town of Michael’s Bay as well as the Royal Michael’s Bay Restaurant (itself a more recent relic of plans to create a high end golf and country resort), is now the subject of litigation between a developer who has made an offer to purchase to the property’s former owners.

“I am pleased that they are letting us keep the property maintained,” said Mr. Tracy as he signed the licencing agreement to send back to the ministry.

The Seized Property Management Directorate (SPMD) is adamant that no comments will be released while the property is under litigation. The directorate has taken exclusive possession of the property as of May 28, 2014—pursuant to the terms of the restraint and management order. Access to the property has been prohibited since that time.

Although Mr. Tracy has claimed that he was speaking to an RCMP officer at the site, that individual was apparently an employee of the SPMD.

The SPMD has nonetheless acknowledged that the Michael’s Bay property does include a registered cemetery and has consented to allow Mr. Tracy a temporary licence for the sole purposes mentioned above.

The SPMD hopes to show good faith in fulfilling its obligations under the restraint and management order through the licencing agreement and recognizes the importance of the cemetery to Mr. Tracy and his community, notes a letter informing Mr. Tracy of the SPMD decision.