I’m Lovin’ it

George Cohon Mcdonalds canada 400


By John Morris

McDonald’s Canada founder, George Cohon, adores his Hinckley 48 Talaria

On a leisurely summer afternoon, what could be more relaxing than a cruise up the river aboard a stunning 48-footer with the most gracious host and a few very happy guests? If you have never met George Cohon; the founder of McDonald’s Canada, you might picture him as one tough hombre, a relentless business type who achieved staggering success. But aboard McHappy III, the coolest boat on the lake, you’d never describe him as anything but charismatic, relaxed and enjoying life to the fullest.  

You would also describe George as a Canadian icon. His family is firmly routed in this country, George became a citizen in 1975.  How Canadian? He is a Companion of the Order of Canada.  Tirelessly involved in community activities from taking therapy dogs to the Baycrest Geriatric Centre, to being one of the saviours of the Santa Claus Parade, he is a people person extraordinaire. His current good deeds are endless and most of them include McHappy III in their goodwill.

Hinckley 48 Talaria 400George Cohon’s success and contribution to Canadian life is a powerful one and somewhat unusual for a lawyer from Chicago. It all began in 1967 when Cohon purchased the McDonald’s franchise for Eastern Canada and opened the first outlet in London ON. The Cohons moved to Toronto and parlayed the burgers and arches into a huge Canadian operation that today is around 1500 restaurants with a vast workforce and gigantic impact. 

McHappy is a Hinckley 48 Talaria and the boat plays an omportant supporting role in George Cohon’s Charitable work.

He was also instrumental in taking the Golden Arches to Russia with equally successful results using his skills and charm to navigate a complex business and political environment (that enterprise only recently closed down, but that’s a story for another day). This is obviously an extremely big business, but George appears to have the Zen for work/life balance that has him heading out from the global boardroom to shirtsleeve with Prime Ministers as comfortably as hanging out with families at Ronald McDonald House – the facility network George established here that, in an average year, serves more than 26,000 families who must travel for specialized children\n’s medical treatment via 16 Ronald McDonald Houses and 17 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms.

Aboard McHappy III, this ability to be both powerful and casually engaging is somehow instantly explained. At the helm or in the luxurious cockpit, George Cohon is hosting the guests aboard and sipping a Coke Zero at the helm while laughing at his friend Kenny McGowen’s endless stream of crazy stories. Though his travels and business connections have taken him around the planet, he is clearly at his “McHappiest” piloting this sophisticated Hinckley 48 up the 16Mile Creek in Oakville and waving to the folks on the adjacent banks. He grins with pleasure as he joysticks the jet drives, turning the boat in its own length at the narrow end of the Creek.

Lunch for 220 400A little history

When the Cohons added a winter retreat on the Waterway in Palm Beach, they also acquired their first bigger boat, a Little Harbor WhisperJet. This third McHappy is the second Hinckley after McHappy II, the 44 Talaria they owned in Florida.  Falling in love with the Talaria 48 at the Palm Beach Boat Show, George grabbed an opportunity to commission hull number seven, happily skipping a very long waiting list.  So delighted when his new 48 was completed, he contacted the local McDonalds operator and had lunch delivered for 220 employees in the Maine boatyard. The grand occasion is proudly displayed in a picture volume on McHappy III’s coffee table.

George was so delighted when his new 48 was completed, he contacted the local McDonalds operator and had lunch delivered for 220 employees in the Maine boatyard. The grand occasion is proudly displayed in this picture volume onboard McHappy.

He admires, as any boater would, its extremely traditional cabinetry built atop the most modern of hulls fabricated from epoxy-infused carbon fibre. (In a candid, non-publishable moment George confessed that his previous Hinckley boat’s hull got an accidental testing on a Florida reef and survived without an injury, convincing him this trad/space age combo was the perfect solution for both aesthetics and practicality.)

There’s lots about this boat to love. Up forward there’s a luxurious stateroom and galley, twin fully stated heads and a dinette that converts to a second cabin in a pinch. The command station with a bank of pedestal Stidd chairs joins the gorgeous saloon that glows with more of the brilliantly gleaming cherry. Two power-operated frameless side windows open the area up along with four power ceiling hatches to add even more access to the outside. Curved doors open to the lush cockpit with yet more cherry. McHappy III has the wet bar and icemaker options, of course.  During the course of my visits aboard, the other guests and even passers-by on the dock couldn’t suppress their smiles and admiration for what is a truly stunning craft.

Loving the boat, however, is almost second to using it to do useful things and helping others. The grandchildren naturally jump on board with glee but so do even the most seasoned of boaters who are involved with McHappy III’s generous endeavours. Supporting the Canadian National Sailing Team, The Canada’s Cup Team and others is a start, but even more important is the fundraising, especially for Ronald McDonald House.

RCYA Paddlethon 400For several years the Royal Canadian Yacht Club has staged Paddlethon – in August this year, participants paddled ‘anything that floats’ around the south RCYC Island, followed by a barbecue. The Paddlethon has raised over $100,000 for RMHC Toronto in the last three years and topped its goal of raising $60,000 in 2022.

For several years the Royal Canadian Yacht Club has staged Paddlethon as a fundraising events supporting Ronald McDonald House.

In the winter, McHappy III makes its way by transport to Palm Beach to continue the enjoyment. Says George with a hint of mischief, “Even in Florida I fly our Canadian flag. If they don’t like it…well…!” Big smile. The boat reflects the big heart of its owner; you can feel it as you step aboard. George is on the boat, his “McHappy” place.

McHappy III   Hinckley Talaria 48 Motoryacht

2 X 715 HP Cummins : 1430 HP total – Twin Hamilton Jet Drives

George Cohon canada shirt 400Top speed – 38 knots

LENGTH, OVERALL      52′ 3″

LENGTH, HULL   48′ 10″


BEAM         15’ 5”

DRAFT       2’ 7”

DISPLACEMENT 39,900 lbs.*

FUEL CAPACITY 2,700 L diesel

CONSTRUCTION           DualGuard™ SCRIMP® Carbon E-glass composite hull with vinylester resin. E-glass deck

George Cohon is clearly at his “McHappiest” piloting this sophisticated Hinckley 48 up the 16 Mile Creek in Oakville

Equipped with Jetstick 3, optimizing the most advanced technology available for simple functionality aboard. At the touch of a button, drop a virtual anchor to hold position anywhere in the world. Integrated dynamic steering uses fly-by-wire technology to communicate with military-grade intellinders.

Remote Jetstick allows remote joystick control from the dock or swim platform.

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