We have been anticipating a tour of the S.S. Keewatin for so long because not one of us had ever been onboard! The SS Keewatin definitely did not disapoint! If you remember from a previous blog that Brianne has gotten the closest to the ship, when she helped pull her into her current home last summer. Standing next to this ship I wondered how that would even be possible but there are pictures that people pulled it by hand so I guess I believe her!
Our tour started out with some basic history about the ship and her voyages. The trip she took was 5 days long, 2.5 days out to Fort William and Port Arthur, which is now Thunder Bay, and then back to Port McNicoll. On this trip the ship carried passengers and freight, usually about 1600 tons of grain per trip. This was just the beginning of all of the cool little facts we learned along the way!
Did you know that they actually cut the ship in half to get it through the Trent Severn Waterway and into Georgian Bay? How incredible is that!
Our tour guide,Tyler, took us through the whole ship to the Upper Deck, he even let us have a little Titanic moment. Sadly he couldn’t supply Leo DiCaprio to make the moment authentic but it was pretty close.
To make up for it he let me ring the huge bell on the front and that was pretty cool and very loud, so I guess I forgive him!
As we walked back into the ship and down a few stairs Tyler congratulated us… We all looked at each other thinking “Hmm nothing too special about walking down a couple stairs...” but Tyler went on to tell us that we had just walked through the part of the ship where the most paranormal activity occurs. He said when ghost hunters come aboard they always find activity in that area… Let’s just say that I’m glad he kept moving as he said that and we could get out of that hallway, I don’t mess with ghosts!
We then got to check out some of the staterooms where people would be staying while aboard the ship, they were tiny! Only one containing a double bed (The Honeymoon Suite), the rest all had small bunks and single beds. Some of the tiny rooms would sleep three people, by the end of the five days I’m sure they knew more about each other than they probably would have liked to!
Pictured below is one of the 7 Luxury Suites onboard; they are the largest type of stateroom, other than the Honeymoon Suite.
Next was the dining room. The furniture was original, breathtaking, and nailed to the floor, so that no one was going anywhere if a large wave (or iceberg) happened to rock the ship!
Tyler told us a story of the now "Captain", who was a server on the ship in the 1960s. He said the staff were so tightly monitored and there was no margin for error. This meaning that if they messed up a passenger's order, it came out of their pay. So this young server decided to hide a steak in a drawer in order to avoid paying for it! You can read all about Eric Conroy's recollections in his book, Steak in a drawer
, available in the ship's gift shop or online HERE
The Engine Room
was the final stop on our tour. We learned how steam powered this magnificent ship and believe it or not, the engines still work! Not turning as fast as they used to but we were still able to get a sense of how fast it would have moved on their smaller model engine! Tyler told us about the construction of the ship and how if the Titanic had been built like the S.S. Keewatin, maybe it wouldn't have sank. Who knows!
Overall this historical landmark is something you cannot miss when touring through the Heart of Georgian Bay! I’d like to thank our amazing tour guide, Tyler, and the rest of the Keewatin staff and volunteers for teaching us so much and making it such a great experience!
Written by Katie Lalonde, Student Communications Coordinator for Heart of Georgian Bay
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