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Born: Oct 18, 1924

Date of Passing: Sep 10, 2011

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DANIEL ANTHONY RITCHIE October 18, 1924 - September 10, 2011 Commodore Dan Ritchie, well known business entrepreneur. From a Saskatchewan farm, to food service, real estate, art collecting, river cruise ships, tourism, to an animal sanctuary. Best known as Commodore Ritchie and to his grandchildren as Captain Dan . The Commodore passed away suddenly on September 10, 2011 after a long battle with heart disease. He was predeceased by his parents, two sisters and two brothers. Left to cherish his memory are his two sons Grant Ritchie of Winnipeg and Danny Ritchie (Irene) of Calgary; brother, Al Ritchie currently living in San Diego and numerous grandchildren. Born in Heith, Alberta, Dan was raised on a farm near Battleford, Saskatchewan. Working for the C.N. Railway, in food service, eventually led to his many forays into the food service industry. After service in the Air Force, Dan spent several years establishing his food service experience working at the Toronto International Airport. After marrying and having two children, Dan opened a small diner called the Penguin Restaurant . After a short time of operation it was sold and he moved to Winnipeg. Winnipeg was the beginning of several successful food service operations including, Industrial Catering with approximately 13 trucks, and Continental Catering with extensive cafeteria operations. Dan was naturally entrepreneurial, very industrious and continually searched for new opportunities. The late 1950s opened new doors for Dan as he started a chain of seven drive-in restaurants known as the Millionaire Drive Inns . The drive-in's were popularized by having the first canopy, and music offerings while boasting one of the tallest signs in all of Canada. The River Rouge cruise ship was commissioned by Dan in the early 1960s as he began his first venture into tourism. Shortly after, Dan commissioned the building of the Lady Winnipeg cruise ship. This marked the start of a 27 year rivalry in this industry and provided Dan with the Titles of Captain and Commodore which he is most remembered for. These ships were designed to cruise the Red River from Winnipeg to the University of Manitoba, and north all the way to the mouth of Lake Winnipeg, with the trip to Lower Fort Garry being exceedingly popular. Tourism grew in 1979, as Dan built a fleet of authentic double-decker buses to bring tourists from the many city hotels for sight-seeing and to the docks for a cruise. Dan vigorously promoted the city of Winnipeg and sought to have one of the most successful tourism features available. Meeting tourists, in his full naval uniform, at the gang-plank, upon boarding and de-boarding the ships, was a great enjoyment for Dan, explaining why the Commodore rarely missed a cruise. While operating these tourism outlets, as a gentleman farmer, Dan also maintained 1,000 acres of farm land near Otterburn, Manitoba. His farming ventures were known more commonly as River Rouge Grain Growers and Dan would often lend his machinery to assist other farmers in the area during the busy harvest time. Aside from his ventures in business, Dan appreciated the value of fine art and developed a friendship with the famous artist Leo Mol. Among his collection of art and sculpture include many first casts of Leo Mol's work. Dan's stature is forever captured in a bust created by his friend and is displayed at the Leo Mol Gardens. Dan's passions for nature consumed his later years as he established an animal sanctuary near Birds Hill Park. This sanctuary was for wild animals and offering protection and help to stray or injured animals. Dan used his business acumen and previous ventures to raise money for the care and protection for Manitoba's various creatures. The Pine Ridge Wildlife and Environment Foundation, which can be reached through their website ( or via phone, would be pleased to receive any donations for this purpose. Commodore Dan Ritchie will be remembered as being an ambassador of goodwill for Winnipeg, for Manitoba and for Canada. By request of the Commodore, no service will be performed. Reflection and Interment to be held at Chapel Lawn Cemetery, 4000 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg on Friday, September 16 at 1:30 p.m. The family welcomes all those that wish to attend, to join in paying their final respects to the Commodore. Following, will be a light reception for Family and Friends at the home of his son, Grant Ritchie. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to The Pine Ridge Wildlife and Environment Foundation. For those who wish to sign the online Guest Book please visit our website. Chapel Lawn 885-9715

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Sep 13, 2011

Condolences & Memories (3 entries)

  • I recently saw his obituary. I was 19 y.o. (42 yrs. ago) when I worked for Commodore Ritchie (office/PR). He was an interesting man, full of stories and introduced me to many people, my favorite - Leo Mol! I worked mainly in the office/PR, sometimes Hostessing aboard the River Rouge evening cruises. Thanks for the memories Captain Dan..I've never since called a ship a boat (lol) and I'll certainly never forget Tregas! - Posted by: Linda Broesky (Employee) on: May 19, 2015

  • Dan, I'm glad that you realized all of your dreams and seen them bare fruit. We had many a lively dialogue over 25 years in which you went through many changes, in lifestyle and thinking. Dan the conceiving and bldg. of Pineridge will be your lasting stamp on Winnipeg. thank you for your impressions on my life. - Posted by: james (petkau) on: Jan 02, 2012

  • Good bye Dan, you have provided me with many memories, and it has been a privilege to have known you. - Posted by: Ted Purvis (Friend) on: Sep 14, 2011

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