The Jeffy Jan II preparing for 2017 Tall Ships Regatta

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Photo: Shirley Nadeau

The Jeffy Jan II, beautifully restored for the Rendez-vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta in July 2017.  

In August 1943 and in September 1944, Quebec hosted two important meetings between British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Significant decisions were taken at these conferences including the approval of the Allied landings in Normandy of June 1944. 

In 1998, a monument with busts of Churchill and Roosevelt was unveiled near the Saint-Louis Gate. The dates of the meetings were indicated on a central stone along with a declaration of Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King stating how magnificent it would be if history could tell that it was in Quebec City that the liberation of France was assured. This tribute constitutes a rather minor reminder of two major happenings which made Quebec known the world over. 

 The Canadian Navy is undertaking to offer a more substantial memento of the Quebec wartime conferences. In 2014, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous patron, the Naval Museum acquired a yacht which the Quebec Naval Base operated between 1939 and 1945. This 1937 Chris Craft cruiser was given to the Navy by a patriotic Canadian and used for different auxiliary tasks including VIP transportation. 

In 1943, it ferried, among others, British Foreign Minister Sir Anthony Eden, who later became Prime Minister of England, and Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten who served as the last governor of India, after the war. Some even say Churchill rode in the vessel. 

A benefit cocktail party was held on September 22, 2016, to mark the end of the refurbishing of the yacht. The work was done by the Boulet Lemelin shipyard located on Champlain Boulevard.

 During its military service, the luxury yacht was known as Harbour Craft No. 54. Its original name was more distinguish. It was called the Jeffy Jan II after two cousins, Geoffrey and Jan. Geoffrey was changed to Jeffy to make a better sounding name.

 The original owners were the Caldwell family. Their yacht was built in Algomac, in the state of Michigan in 1937. It is 36 feet long and 11 feet wide and it displaces nine tons. Its cruising speed is eight knots. The interior is made of mahogany and includes a kitchenette, two small bedrooms and a bathroom. It can transport up to 15 people. The boat itself is an important representation of luxury Chris Craft of this period and is believed to be one of only a handful of existing boats.  

After the war, the small vessel was acquired by Edgar Shee. His three daughters, Sandra, Mary and Kathleen-Ann, who used to ride in the boat in their younger days, were present at the benefit cocktail. Also in attendance were members of the Cantin family. Roland Cantin acquired the craft in 1972. It was in his yard in Saint-Romuald that the yacht was kept until purchased by the Naval Museum, which intends to use it to underline the importance of the Navy's operations in the defence of the Port of Quebec during the Second World War.

 It is hoped to have the Jeffy Jan II on display during the Rendez-vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta next summer as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations.