Duc d’Orleans’ owners embark on final voyage

Duc d'Orleans II. Photo courtesy of Duc d'Orleans via Facebook.

A fixture along the waterfront in downtown Sarnia has been sold.

After 44 years, Owner and Captain of the Duc d’Orleans II Ken Bracewell said he and his wife Sheri are retiring.

The 70-year-old said when making the decision to retire, it was important to him the tradition of the Duc continued.

“You could just sell the boat and it could go anywhere,” said Bracewell. “We wanted to see it carry on. That was one of my big things was to find somebody that would carry on, and you know, could see the value in what we did. Because, this has really been a nice operation, it’s run along smoothly, so I wanted to keep it that way.”

Captain Ken Bracewell and crew on Duc d’Orleans II. Photo courtesy of Duc d’Orleans via Facebook.

Bracewell said the Duc d’Orleans provided a unique opportunity to give back to the community, and the Seniors Cruise was born.

“Started in conjunction with Peter Henderson, myself and Jacques Beauchamp in our very first year. Just using the facilities that we had, to benefit the aging population seemed like a good idea, and it just caught on and carried on. We did it every year except once the pandemic came of course we stopped running for two years.”

Bracewell said their final trip along the St. Clair River is set for Wednesday, September 28th. It’s a private affair. The new owners, from the Sarnia area, take over at the end of the month.

The current boat has a capacity of 192 passengers and was purchased in 2005 and rechristened Duc d’Orleans II.

The original boat, Duc d’Orleans, was a Fairmile built in Sarnia in 1943 for the Second World War as a coastal patrol ship/mine-sweeper.

Once decommissioned, she was purchased in 1978 and brought back to Sarnia where it was run by the current owners for 27 years.