Learn about the history and legacy of the Chief Commanda and how it came to be the famous landmark restaurant it is today.
The “Chief Commanda”, named after Chief Raymond Commanda who drowned in the French River in 1944, ran from 1947 to 1974. It was a 99 foot steel-hulled boat – the first steel-hulled passenger vessel of its size on Lake Nipissing – built in 1946 in Toronto.
Over the years there were several captains of “the Chief”. In 1957 Bob Rowe, at age 17, started working on the Chief with his father, Captain William Rowe and his brother Captain Lorne Rowe. Also in 1957, Bryden Lloyd, a relative of the Rowes, was a purser on the ship.
In 1961, Lawrence Dokis became first mate. In 1974, he became Captain and skippered for Captain Lorne Rowe.
In 1974, Lawrence Dokis had made 3000 trips and carried 300,000 passengers on Lake Nipissing and the Upper French River.
After its retirement in 1974, it was given to Dokis First Nation and was docked at Dokis for a short time. It was eventually moved to North Bay were it now rest on land at the North Bay waterfront and functions as a restaurant during the summer season. The original plan was for the boat to be turned into a boat museum, but that never materialized
The ownership of the Boat North Bay are proud of the Chief’s history, and strive for the same service of excellence through our food and beverage services
In 1961, Lawrence Dokis made 3000 trips and carried 300,000 passengers on Lake Nipissing and the Upper French River.