Friday, June 22, 2012

Place to be tomorrow

S.S. Keewatin in the 1930s
In the 1880s, before the CPR line was completed around the north shore of Lake Superior, a fleet of lake steamers carried passengers from seaports on Georgian Bay, northwest past Sault Ste Marie and across Lake Superior to Port Arthur, now Thunder Bay. Ontario.

One of the ships that continued that lake service, even after the railroad was completed, was S.S. Keewatin. Built for the CPR in 1905 ("older than Titanic"!), she continued in transport service until 1966, and then was parked at a ship museum in Michigan. Tomorrow, Keewatin comes home to her home port, Port McNicholl -- under tow, sure, but still sailing. Still in existence is miracle enough.

There's a press junket sailing from Midland on Saturday in the Keewatin flotilla. My new friend, publicist Rachel Yager, was nice enough to invite me -- hey, who knew history blogging has privileges? -- and though I cannot go, it sounds like the coolest historical jaunt of the summer.

The waterfront real-estate developer who is behind the return of Keewatin has a pretty good history of the ship here.  And the website of the ship's voyage home is here.

The Great Lakes passenger service was not the easiest run in the world.  Here, from Wikipedia, is the story of the CPR ship Algoma. Sailing out of Owen Sound, she was wrecked on Isle Royale in Lake Superior on November 7, 1885, with a loss of forty-six lives. The CPR's last spike was driven the same day at Craigallachie, British Columbia. 
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