The Anchor Inn, which is highly regarded by locals for its cuisine, entertainment, and historical significance, is among the oldest structures on Manitoulin Island. However, it will not be able to accommodate overnight visitors until at least 2024, and potentially even until 2025.
All of the rooms have been occupied by long-term tenants who had no other options because of the housing scarcity in the region.
One of the tenants is William Lanktree, aged 73.
Last year, when he started looking for a new residence in his local vicinity, he was astonished by the significant transformation in the housing scene on his home island.
“He inquires, where will you reside unless you have $1,500 or $2,000 to cover the rent?”
He went to a location he believed he could pay for, but remarked that it was in such a dilapidated state that it would not have been appropriate even for a dog.
As his search became more and more futile, he resorted to questioning anyone he came across about any reasonably priced place he could stay in during his fight against a new episode of cancer.
At that moment, he made the choice to visit Anchor Inn in Little Current and inquire with Denise Callaghan, the owner, about the availability of rental rooms.
The establishment has twelve rooms, however, they are typically reserved by tourists or other temporary guests who come in large numbers to appreciate the breathtaking scenery of the largest freshwater Island in the world.
However, since Lanktree was running out of choices, Callaghan decided to allocate a room for him at a reasonable price for a maximum duration of one year.
She soon became aware of the numerous individuals in the community who were facing difficulties in securing housing, particularly those dealing with mental health, physical ailments, or addiction problems.
Quickly, all the rooms she had available filled with longer-term tenants. Now all the rooms are booked for at least the next year.
The monthly charge for the room varies between $700 and $900, depending on its size.
Callaghan has no regrets despite the fact that staying in the kitchenette rooms of the Anchor Inn typically exceeds $100 per night, making it an unprofitable choice.
“I would clearly be earning a higher income by engaging in that activity. However, monetary gain is not always the sole focus.”
She stated that there is a significant lack of housing both on the island and in general. If the rooms are going to remain vacant for five to six days per month, it would be more beneficial to have them occupied.
The tenants have no desire to live anywhere else.
Since the space was intended for short-term guests, the rooms do not include a stove.
Callaghan mentioned that one major thing they lack is the ability to cook their own meals. They are left with options like purchasing pre-made meals, microwavable dinners, or relying on their friends’ homes to make a simple bowl of soup.
The hotel does possess a dining establishment, but she mentioned that the majority of her guests have limited funds, thus making it impractical for them to dine there.
Lanktree is indifferent.
“He claimed that it is the ultimate spot on the planet,” he stated. “I am fortunate enough to witness the lake’s beauty daily, and I have my comfortable Lazy Boy chair accompanying me.”
When I gaze through my window, I observe the natural surroundings, the landscape, and the boats.
Lanktree finds the sense of community at the Anchor Inn to be his favorite aspect of living there. This connection with other tenants and regular customers is especially important to him as he faces illness.
Barry Hamilton, who is 76 years old, shares the same sentiment as his neighbor.
Due to his wife’s recent illness, she had to relocate for medical treatment, leaving him with the task of finding an affordable place to live on his own.
Hamilton confessed that he failed to adequately prepare for retirement. He regretted not making the necessary investments and now finds everything becoming too expensive for his current financial situation.
Hamilton expressed his immense gratitude for the transformation that took place at the Anchor Inn, particularly in the conference room, which allowed him to feel like a completely different person on the second floor.
He expressed his contentment with living in this place, stating that he intends to reside in this hotel for the remainder of his life.
Callaghan expressed her desire to convert the inn into an apartment building if given the opportunity.
Currently, however, she is content to prioritize aiding in alleviating the housing shortage on the island, even if it results in foregoing financial gains.
The housing issue will persist for a while.
Donna Stewart, the chief administrative officer at Manitoulin Sudbury District Services Board, stated that there are more than 200 individuals currently on a waiting list for an affordable one-bedroom apartment on the island.
She stated that our housing waitlist has never experienced a surge of this magnitude in over 24 years of record-keeping.
Due to the generous contribution of land by a local family and financial support from the provincial and federal governments, the organization has successfully constructed a housing unit for seniors at an affordable cost. However, it is important to note that this accomplishment required several years of effort and only managed to accommodate 12 individuals from the existing waitlist.
“It’s great to hear a local hotel is willing to turn their temporary stay units into longer-term accommodations. I’m sure it’s heartwarming to the community to know someone is stepping up to help alleviate the void.
“However, these individuals will still require permanent housing, resulting in an existing gap.”