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'Exciting times' as Keewatin returns to Port McNicoll next month

Ship left for Kingston museum last spring, but is now expected to return next month and take turns docking in all four North Simcoe municipalities
2021-03-02 ap
The SS Keewatin arrived with great fanfare upon its return to Georgian Bay in 2012. A similar scene is expected to occur next month.

(Editor's note added April 2, 2024: The following story was written for April 1st, which is traditionally a day for April Fool's jokes.)

The SS Keewatin is coming back home.

In a surprise move, the Kingston marine museum that acquired the Edwardian-era vessel last year from Skyline Investments has decided to “do the right thing and return it back to its spiritual home.”

The ship is expected to leave the Limestone City in early May, leading to speculation its return could coincide with Portarama.

"These are exciting times indeed," Tay Deputy Mayor Barry Norris said. "I never thought I'd see the day that everything would work out as it should."

And in a way to promote tourism across North Simcoe, the Kee will now occasionally leave Tay Township and take turns visiting Midland Bay, Penetanguishene Bay as well as Tiny Township.

For that to happen, dredging work will begin later this month since Penetanguishene’s Bay isn’t as deep as its neighbours.

While in Penetanguishene, it will dock at the former Historic Naval and Military Establishments (HNME) in front of the King's Wharf Theatre.

While the Keewatin is from a different era, the site now named Discovery Harbour seems a perfect fit since it already serves up a range of events unrelated to the 1817 to 1856 time period when HNME actually existed.

In Midland Bay, the ship will be located at the place where the now-defunct Midland Bay Landing Development Corporation built a 100-metre-long sidewalk some years ago.

“It’s a great day for Midland and it’s a grand day for that sidewalk,” Midland Mayor Bill Gordon said. “We imagine it will help us get the word out about what Midland has to offer. We’re more than just butter tarts and murals.”

But as Gordon and Penetanguishene Mayor Doug Rawson helpfully pointed out Tiny Township doesn’t have a library, recreation centre or a dock large enough to accommodate the ship "so where will they dock it?"

Well, there's a solution to that issue and it seems quite inventive if a touch controversial.

A Tiny politician, who asked not to be identified, has suggested the township anchor the ship just in "front of some of the million-dollar cottages….uh, make that million-dollar estates" located at the high-water mark.

“If we can get at least one of them up in arms over this by blocking their view of the Collingwood ski hills, well, then we just might be doing something right,” the politician told MidlandToday on April 1.

Added resident Lirpa Loof: “I’m looking forward to seeing it back home where it belongs.

"Can you imagine adding a water-slide to the stern? That would be so cool."

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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country‚Äôs most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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