Type: Motor cruiser
Draft: 2ft 9ins
Displacement: 11.48 tons
Engine: 2 x Bukh 20hp Diesels
Construction: Mahogany on elm and oak
During the fifty years since they earned their place in the history books, the Little Ships, like members of a large family, have been scattered widely and, like married daughters, sometimes assumed new names which make it difficult to identify them.
Our list of Dunkirk Little Ships spreads far and wide. Ontario, Canada is 3,000 miles from Dunkirk and far out of range for a little 8-knot motor yacht, yet that is where ‘L'Aventurier’ is to be found - not that this was her name when she took part in Operation Dynamo. At that time, she was called Dragonfly. How she got to Canada is a strange story in itself. Built for Mr. J. D. Leech ('Sea Leech II' was her name then), she was on the Thames before the war when she was requisitioned and painted battleship grey all over until, her war service completed, she went back into civilian ownership.
In 1962, a Canadian, General Allard, on a staff course in England, bought and renamed her L'Aventurier. When he was posted to Germany to command a British brigade, he took her with him. Later, he cruised through the French canals to the Mediterranean. When he was recalled to Canada as Chief of the Defence Staff, he persuaded the Canadian aircraft carrier Bonaventure, which happened to be returning to Canada from NATO service in the Mediterranean, to carry her near-namesake, with the gallant military connection, back home for him.
An Ottawa architect, John Flanders bought her from Allard in 1965 and her present owners, Jocelyn and Cameron Graham became her proud owners a year later. Over the intervening years they have lavished unimaginable amounts of time and resources on the Little Ship and have won six major prizes for craftsmanship and elegance at Clayton, New York and Ottawa shows for their back-breaking labour. Although they have installed some modern comforts and equipment, they have religiously maintained L'Aventurier's original design and appearance.
But she has not become just a museum exhibit. They enjoy her in the role for which she was created. Hundreds of hours of joyful cruising through the idyllic Canadian waters of the Rideau river and the Thousand Islands with their children and grandchildren have repaid them for their dedication. There have been setbacks too, - especially, as happens with all owners of classic wooden boats, when earning one's living interferes with yachting. In 1979, she was laid up for three destructive years and suffered from the ravages of the weather and sun on her tarnished metal parts, wooden hull and superstructure. In 1983 Graham, full of remorse, applied himself to make good the damage. He renewed ribs and bulkheads, gave her a new electrical system and a pair of new Bukh diesel engines. Now she is a proud and self-respecting lady again.
In September 1999 she was used in a 3-day shoot on the Rideau Canal in central Ottawa to boost tourism in Canada. The commercial is being shown throughout the United States and was seen in Europe that Spring.
In June 2012 due to reasons of registry, L'AVENTURIER (previously Dragonfly) was now registered as L'AVENTURIER at the Port of Ottawa in Canada.
Most recently L'AVENTURIER has reverted to her original name 'Dragonfly'! (see below)
Updated Jan 2017.
Thu, 26/01/2017 - 20:20 — Cameron Graham
L'Aventurier has now had its name changed on the Canadian Register of Vessels. It is now Dragonfly, the name it had in 1940.
Mon, 12/10/2015 - 20:16 — Cameron Graham
L'AVENTURIER, after an extensive ten year refit, was launched into the waters of Lake Huron's Georgian Bay in August of 2015. As her name in 1940, DRAGONFLY, recently became available on the Canadian Register of Vessels, it was decided to revert to that name, registered at the Port of Ottawa.
Sun, 03/06/2012 - 21:45 — Anonymous
L'Aventurier lost her status as a Registered British vessel in 1999 due to more stringent residency requirements. She is now on the Canadian Register, with the name L'Aventurier at the Port of Ottawa.