S.S. Keewatin comes home to Port McNicoll
Holy steamship, Batman, that was a loud homecoming.
As the S.S. Keewatin was towed into the southern end of Georgian Bay, past Beausoleil Island, a flotilla of 300-plus greeted her with horns blaring. It was my pure pleasure to be on one of those boats.
Of course, as any lady would, she repaid the compliment with a deep-throated bellow.
The Steam Ship Keewatin was heading back into her home port of Port McNicoll exactly 46 years to the day that she last departed, bound for Fort William.
The welcoming ceremony was hosted by HGTV star and Star columnist Bryan Baeumler, with a special guest appearance by hometown hero Mike Keenan, a Stanley Cup-winning coach.
The Keewatin was looking good for her age, and I heard that all her systems - including, miraculously, her engines - were in full operating order. But despite being able to sail under her own steam, the handsome tug Wendy Ann towed her back into port.
The Keewatin is a 350-foot-long passenger vessel and once the pride of the CP Rail's Great Lakes Fleet. She worked for over 60 years steaming passengers from her Georgian Bay port to Fort William (now Thunder Bay) in first-class style.
The Keewatin - older than the Titanic - was sailing on the Great Lakes five years before the Titanic sank on April 17, 1912. It was built in Scotland by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering as Hull No. 453 and was the first ship on the Great Lakes equipped with radar.
The Keewatin was rescued by Toronto developer Gil Blutrich, president of Skyline Developments, who is creating a $1.6 billion vacation community in Port McNicoll. She'll serve as the community centre and will be used for special events. Skyline also owns Deerhurst Resort, Horseshoe Resort and Toronto's King Edward Hotel.
Read more about the Keewatin's return on Saturday in the Toronto Star's New in Homes & Condos section, or online at www.yourhome.ca. We'll post a large photo gallery of the Kee's special day.