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The mission of the Cook County Chamber of Commerce is to be the representative voice of county for-profit and non-profit businesses in working to improve the county economy and to address pressing county socioeconomic issues.
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So What Happened to the Sanborn Canoe, and how does that delightful spirit of the forest, Kristofer Bowman, figure into the tale?

All summer long, our friends around Grand Marais have been selling raffle tickets for a colorful Sanborn Canoe adorned with a Betsy Bowen woodcut design on the bow. In her design, Betsy sought  to evoke the Voyageur heritage of this area, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the Northern Lights.

Each morning all summer and fall, the canoe would find its way to a perch in front of the Beaver House in Grand Marais. Tyson Cronberg and Austin Oullis would sell tickets for it. Each evening, the canoe would return to its overnight home in what once was a bay for fire trucks in Grand Marais City hall.

Tickets also were sold at Drury Lane Books, Joynes Department Store, Buck’s Hardware, Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply and Java Moose.

Last week we collected all those ticket stubs and took them to Grand Portage, where the winning ticket would be drawn during the 2018 Visit Cook County/Cook County Chamber Fall Gala. Linda Jurek, executive director of Visit Cook County, drew the winning ticket, which was purchased by someone named John Herman of Eagan, MN.

Turns out there are a number of folks in Minnesota with the name “John Herman.” THIS John Herman purchased the ticket while in Grand Marais to visit the amazing Kristofer Bowman and his wonderful partner Andy Ness.

ristofer, for those who do not know him if there be such, keeps shop at Upstate MN in Grand Marais, where he offers an eclectic mix of artist made goods that “aim to reflect this northern landscape through element, tone and materials.”  Andy is a highly regarded artist who is fresh back from a prestigious opening in Italy.

Turns out that Andy’s mother, Jean Echternacht, is the girlfriend of John Sherman, and while they were in Grand Marais to celebrate Andy’s 40th birthday late July, John purchased a ticket on the Sanborn canoe.

So that is the delightful story of how the Sanborn has weaved a connection to Grand Marais that will endure.

The Sanborn went from Grand Portage back to the company workshop in Winona, where Greg Fellman of Merrimack/Sanborn Canoes will give it a buff and shine, and fix any blemishes that developed while the canoe sat out in the sun all summer. Greg then will deliver the canoe to John Herman in Eagan. Kristopher reports that the canoe is likely to find a home at “tiny Ruth Lake near Brainerd.”

Meanwhile, back at the Chamber, we earned about $8,000 net from sales of raffle tickets on the Sanborn. That money will help finance the 2019 edition of the Great Place Project, which provides small grants to businesses, community groups and individuals to create great small places around Cook County.

Projects financed in the past range from an outdoor ping pong table in front of the Grand Marais Library to bobber benches in front of Beaver House, a colorful bike rack at Lockport Marketplace & Deli in Lutsen and, across the street from Lockport, a giant, metal plaid moose fashioned by metal artist Tom Christiansen.

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