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Beacon Archive

October 2002
PDF Version

McCann House Centennial Year .

In 1895 James McCann purchased a 69' steam-powered tug from the Johnston Boat Works in Grand Haven. He convinced his son John to leave his job at a boat building yard in Wyandotte to captain the new commercial fishing vessel, which had a crew of 6 to 7 men. So began the McCanns' rise to economic prominence on Beaver Island.

An article Joyce Bartels found in the Charlevoix Sentinel for 5-2-02 stated, "Captain John McCann has the material on hand to build a new home." Island master builder Charles Tilly (who built the Dockside Market, Yankee Jim’s store, the Malloy Meat Market, and many homes) was hired as the contractor. John and his wife Grace (Martin) had 6 children at this time, including James (who later owner the Beachcomber.) Before the new dwelling was finished they suffered a fire in their home around the harbor, and had to move in to the new home as it was. John wound up doing all the interior woodwork, including parquet floors using 5 different species of hardwood. The beaded paneling under the stairs and windows attest to his skill. When the ceilings in the living and dining room were damaged, he brought in workers from Manistee to cover them with beautifully embossed tin plating that still graces these rooms today. Marguerite (Runberg) and Catherine (Dunbar), my mother and her sister, were born in the new home in 1903 and 1905.

In 1924 John built the 64' steam tug Venus at the McCann Dock, located where the ferry dock is today. As he worked (essentially by himself), an old gent showed up to watch almost every day. When the project was nearing completion, he remarked, "John, it's wonderful what you can do when you have the tools."

From 1985 through 1993, present occupants Joyce and Johnny Runberg operated a B & B in the McCann Home, beginning an 18 year restoration as a labor of love. A new sign of commemoration hangs at the end of the porch in the summer. Now we hope to have another sign identifying the structure as a Centennial Home.

–John Runberg

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