Anchors aweigh! SS Keewatin begins voyage to Kingston

A view of “The Kee” from the deck of the Tugboat Molly M. Submitted photo.

Anchors aweigh! The SS Keewatin is on the move.

SS Keewatin set sail from Port McNicoll Monday, April 24, 2023, at 4:30 p.m. — a bit earlier than planned due to approaching weather conditions. The ship has begun its four-to-five day journey to Hamilton, where it will undergo repairs before eventually coming to its new home in Kingston.

Eric Conroy, past president of the Friends of Keewatin, the charity that cared for the ship since 2011, said the send-off for the floating museum was “great” despite the “shitty weather.”

“It went off really well,” he pronounced. “The volunteers did an absolutely spectacular job getting the ship ready.”

The ship’s doors have been sealed, and everything aboard has been packed and tied down, Conroy shared.

“Both the federal inspectors and the insurance inspectors went through it one time only; nothing had to be changed. So, everybody — and these are people who’ve never done it before — did a fabulous job. It was fabulous,” remarked Conroy, “It was a great day… boy, a ton of people showed up to send her off.”

Conroy reported on Tuesday Apr. 25, 2023m around 1 p.m. that the ship was currently “right on time” and “gonna be in the Welland Canal at 10 o’clock on Friday morning.” He himself plans to travel to witness this: “I think that’s the historic part,” he said, noting that the ship came up the same canal in two pieces in 1907.

Built by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company in Govan, Glasgow, Scotland, Keewatin was launched on Jul. 6, 1907, and completed in September 1907. The vessel sailed on her maiden voyage, but docked at Lévis, Quebec, to be halved because the canals below Lake Erie — specifically the Welland Canal — could not handle ships as long as Keewatin. The ship was reassembled at Buffalo, New York, where she resumed her voyage under her own power to begin service at Owen Sound, Ontario.

SS Keewatin follows her little guide, Tugboat Molly M1, and crew across the waves. Photo via ‘Ship Junkies — Lakes, Locks, Rivers,’ a public Facebook group with over 30,000 followers.

The little tugboat, Molly M 1, will guide the historic treasure to Sarnia, where it will enter the St. Clair River. At the Detroit River Light, Molly and crew will enter Lake Erie, taking The Kee to Port Colborne, then Port Weller to Lake Ontario, and coming finally to Hamilton’s Heddle Shipyards. There Keewatin will spend the summer undergoing major repairs.

You can follow the progress of SS Keewatin by following the tugboat Molly M 1 online, or by keeping track of posts on the Facebook group “Ship Junkies — Lakes, Locks, Rivers.”

The Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston announced that the SS Keewatin would be coming to the Limestone City on March 3, 2023. The Titanic-era ship is expected to arrive locally in Lake Ontario and ‘home’ to Kingston this fall. For more information, the Marine Museum has created a webpage dedicated to The Kee, which is updated as the ship’s journey to Kingston continues.

2 thoughts on “Anchors aweigh! SS Keewatin begins voyage to Kingston

  • Great coverage of the Kee, except for one small obscure detail. It’s anchors a~weigh not away, meaning, take on the weight of the anchor boys. Cheers Gord

    • Hi Gordon,

      You are absolutely correct, and we appreciate you bringing this to our attention!
      We’ll make that correction now.

      Thank you,

      Tori Stafford
      Editor-in-Chief
      Kingstonist

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