Leland’s Bluebird Tavern & the Telgard Legacy

The Glen Arbor Sun has an excellent, in-depth feature on The Telgards and tales of a Leland legacy by Abby Chatfield that gives you a great look at the how & why of the renovation and the history of one of Leelanau’s leading restaurant families. The whole feature is great, but here’s the story of how the Telgards came to found the Bluebird:

Skip, Lynn, Carolyn and Derek during the Bluebird demolition.

…The Bird may be at the center of the Telgard legacy, but the family has brought even more to the table over five generations in Leelanau. Emigrating from Scandinavia in the 19th century, the Telgards first found their way as Northport-based boat builders. Martin and Fred Telgard built custom sailboats like the Lita, a 60-foot racing schooner custom made for George Eastman Dryden of Northport Point. “At the time, it was one of the grandest boats built in the county,” Skip said. According to Leland Historical Society archives, Martin, Fred, and Ted Craker were all involved in Lita’s construction. Years later, Skip was contacted by the schooner’s new owner, who was racing it in Australia, and sent him a photo of Lita in the 2000 Sydney Olympics boat parade. You can view the boat and learn more about it in local author John Mitchell’s book Wood Boats of Leelanau: A Photographic Journal.

Martin Telgard married Leone Carlson, a member of another Leland legacy family. According to Skip, the Carlsons lived on North Manitou Island until 1906 when they walked across the ice to the mainland, and Leone was born sometime around then. The Carlsons started the fishery in Fishtown and owned much of the land near the Leland River’s outlet into Lake Michigan until they sold it to Fishtown Preservation Society, a nonprofit formed to assure public access to Fishtown while maintaining its historical integrity and working waterfront.

Martin and Leone started The Bluebird in 1927 as a seasonal sandwich and soda shop, the same year that future proprietor, Jim Telgard, was born. It grew to be a restaurant and community hub. The couple and their three children lived above The Bird. Their daughter, Eloise Telgard (Fahs), established the original Village Cheese Shanty in Fishtown and operated it for decades.

Read lots more at the Sun!