Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What do you think about the Keewatin's future?

Driving down Blue Star Highway this morning, I passed the Keewatin just like I do almost every morning. I've come to take it for granted and really don't think twice when I pass it by.

My kids reminded me, though, when they asked me if I'd heard what was happening with  the ship (My kids obviously don't read my stories!).

I told them I knew that the owner, R.J. Peterson, is donating the ship to a group of people in Canada who plan to tow it up to Port McNicholl, Ontario —its real home. The ship docked there when it sailed for the Canadian Pacific Railway from 1907 to 1965. How did that make my kids feel?

Disappointed. Unhappy.

It's understandable. They both toured the ship when they were in elementary school. We've stood next to it during the Fourth of July fireworks, gazed at it from atop Mount Baldhead and admired it covered in snow and ice. In sixth grade, my oldest daughter joined a group of friends and made a model of the ship, complete with port holes and smoke coming out of the stack, for a school project. That 3-foot long model still sits in the living room, a little worse for wear, a few more tatters in the paper and dust on the deck. Kind of like the real thing.

I'll have to spend a few days thinking about how that space will look with the Keewatin gone. It's been in that spot since I moved down here more than 20 years ago. I'll imagine the new docks and modern ships that might be docking there.

What do you think? Will you miss the Kee? Will the community be better off without it? Will the ship be better off in its new home?

Let me know. Shoot me an e-mail at

More information

Eric Conroy aboard the Keewatin.
Don't forget that the Keewatin is the subject of a free talk at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, 400 Culver St. Eric Conroy, author of "A Steak in the Drawer," a book of his experiences on the vessel, will talk about his time on the ship.

Conroy is also the executive director of the foundation that's going to oversee the move and preservation of the ship.

For more information, visit

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