S.S. Keewatin


Fred Blair

Fred Blair

Eric Conroy, President and CEO of Friends of Keewatin (RJ and Diane Peterson Keewatin Foundation) announces the appointment of Fred Blair as General Manager of the S.S. Keewatin project. In addition to his continued responsibility for the condition of the ship, Blair will work with department managers to coordinate the day-to-day operation of the project, reporting directly to Conroy.

According to Eric Conroy, “Fred is a remarkable find, and perfectly suited to the role of General Manager in both qualifications and temperament. He worked with us last year to great effect. Our managers encouraged me to nominate him to this position, and our board agreed with their recommendation. His appointment is effective immediately.”

“For a wood and marine craftsman, Keewatin is an irresistible project!”  says Fred Blair. “The quality of materials and workmanship in play a century ago is as simplified as it is complex. The challenge is to mend or restore to match as close as possible, and I take this very seriously. It is a pleasure to work with so many others with the same kind of respect for the ship.”

Eric Conroy

Eric Conroy

Fred Blair has specialized in woodworking and marine repair, renovation and upgrading all his adult life. He operated a series of progressively more complex businesses, culminating in Custom Craft Marine and Custom Craft Cabinets… the latter winning contracts with national corporations, as well as awards of merit… before downsizing and moving his business here.

Eric Conroy says “Fred’s appointment frees me to focus on fund raising, government grants, marketing, promotions, public and government relations, seeking out opportunities to utilize Keewatin and the adjacent park, and leading the project. And as “Captain Rick” I’ll continue my speaking engagements and public appearances. I’m not going anywhere… just sharing the load.”

For a copy of this News Release, click here:


This Saturday October 22, a dozen sailors will come together to move Keewatin from her spot on the dock in Port McNicoll at 311 Talbot Street, back 150 feet into what will become the Port McNicoll Yacht Club.

In July 2015, the Government of the day in Canada announced a grant of $480,000 to be matched by Skyline Investments to be used to restore the 1912 dock and it’s facing as the beginning of a new Park and a new home for Keewatin. Work will begin at about noon, and will continue until Keewatin is snug and secure so heavy construction can start Monday.

The project is scheduled to be finished by Christmas with landscaping to follow in the spring.

Keewatin came back to Canada, sponsored by SKYLINE on June 23 2012 at 2:30 in the afternoon. The 109 year old vessel that worked out of Port McNicoll was sold to American owners in 1967 and on June 23 1967 at 2:30 in the afternoon she left for 45 years as a museum ship.

Keewatin is the last of the Edwardian steamers built in the United Kingdom between 1900 and 1920. Out of over 3800 ships, Keewatin alone is left to show the glory days of steamships like Titanic and The Empress of Ireland.

This grant is in aid of the salute to Canada for her 150th year as a country, a country Keewatin was involved in building as she carried farm immigrants and their belongings up the lakes to Fort William.

Keewatin is operated by the Friends of Keewatin, a Charitable foundation staffed by volunteers.



Thanks to the E-M-F Owner’s Club for visiting S.S. Keewatin on August 14 and displaying their cars.

Thanks, too, to The Mirror and The Tay Township Report for sending photographers, and featuring the E-M-F Factory Tour of Vintage Automobiles in their publications:

The Mirror
Front Page, Centre

The Tay Township Report
Page 8, Top

The E-M-F Factory Tour visit to S.S. Keewatin on August 14 was incorrectly announced as being from 10:30 am to noon, rather than the actual 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm visit, resulting in interested visitors missing the display.

We regret the disappointment to all affected… particularly readers of The Tay Township Report, which understood the attraction these cars would hold in the community and kindly promoted the visit.

Should the opportunity arise to encourage some of these vehicles to make a return visit, be assured we’ll do so, and tell you about it accurately.

Friends of Keewatin CEO Eric Conroy, announced today that the ship’s owner, Skyline International Development has offered to donate the 109-year-old steamship to the Huronia Museum.

According to John French, chair of the museum’s board of directors, they have received the offer and are taking the proposal very seriously.

Midland Mirror article here:

CTV News – Barrie report here:

BRING HER ON HOME – the story of the return of S.S. Keewatin to Port McNicoll – airs at 6 pm Eastern time, Saturday July 9, and again at 8 am Eastern time Sunday July 10, on the CBC documentary Channel. Tell your friends to watch / set their PVRs!

For the listing, click here:

Here’s the channel list:










Bell Fibe


















S.S. KEEWATIN turned 109 years old on Wednesday July 6th. Hundreds of onlookers joined us between 11am and 1pm as as a team of specialty divers inspected the hull and looked for discarded artifacts on the bottom of Hogg Bay in the Port McNicoll Harbour and were treated to free hot dogs & cold drinks.

109 Years Young - CTV News Barrie

As it was reported on CTV Barrie:

As it was announced on Simcoe.com
Divers coming to S.S. Keewatin Birthday Party in Port McNicoll

New for July 1, 2016:
Prices now include HST.
Summer Evenings: Extended Hours dates revised
Ghost Tours: schedule may change

We’re pleased to confirm our 2016 schedule: please note the changes.

This year we’ll open for our Regular Season on the Thursday prior to the Victoria Day long weekend, add evening tours on Thursday and Friday evenings during the summer (between, but not including, the Canada Day and Labour Day long weekends) and close on Thanksgiving Day.

  1. Dates and Times:
    New opening and closing dates and times, for standard tours:
    * Open every day between Thu. May 19 and Mon. Oct. 10
    * Standard Tours start every half hour, on the hour and half hour
    – between 10:00 and 4:00 Monday through Saturday
    – between 11:00 and 4:00 on Sundays.
  2. Standard Tours and Rates:
    Adult rates remain unchanged:
    * Engine Room: (30 minutes) $5
    * Upper Decks (60 minutes) $15
    * Combination (90 minutes) $20
    HST is now applicable, and included.
  3. New in 2016:
    * Summer Evening Extended Hours:
    … open to 7 pm every Thursday and Friday between July 7 and August 29.
    * Ghost Tours:
    … schedule currently pending

The Tay Township Report – Page 5 – April 1, 2016

Conroy to remain S.S. Keewatin’s top official

Eric Conroy will not slow down in his role as President and Chief Executive Officer of the R.J. and Diane Peterson Keewatin Foundation, the not-for-profit organization that operates the historic steamship as a nautical museum.

Last November 1, Mr. Conroy, who is affectionately known as Captain Rick, announced that he would step aside as the top official of the Friends of the Keewatin, the volunteer group that has performed restorations on the 109-year-old luxury liner and handles the daily tours during the summer season. He planned to concentrate his efforts on securing major grants and donations for the iconic tourist attraction.

However, on Wednesday, March 23, Mr. Conroy announced to the “Friends of Keewatin” management board that he has been asked by the new Skyline International CEO, Blake Lyon, to stay on in that position for another two years.
“It is a great honour to have a prestigious organization like Skyline ask me to stay. I am passionate about the ship and enjoy working with the fantastic volunteers who have made the job so great. After consultation with my wife and family, I have agreed to stay as long as Skyline deem me to be important to the ultimate success of Keewatin as a noted Ontario tourist attraction,” said Mr. Conroy.

Last year and to date Eric has brought in well over $600,000 with a number of major outstanding requests to still be decided. In the three seasons the ship has been operating as a tourist site Keewatin has brought in over $700,000 from general revenues and the Kee has starred in a TV series and been broadcast as a documentary on the CBC.

There will not be any changes to the operation of Keewatin, according to a press release and Skyline is still committed to transfer ownership of the vessel to The RJ and Diane Peterson Keewatin Foundation with the exchange of a tax
receipt from the registered charity. This will take place when the audit of the valuation is approved by the Canadian Revenue Agency and the circumstances are right. Skyline is also committed to turn over 4.7 acres of land near the Keewatin to the Township of Tay for the development of a new public park. A date for that exchange has not been set.

“There are major changes being made to Skyline’s business that will dictate when that time is correct and since I started this process when I purchased the ship for Skyline in 2011, I am pleased to stay to see it successfully through,” Eric concluded.

Kee worth $31.5 million

The R.J. and Diane Peterson Keewatin Foundation is one step closer to securing the ownership of the historic steamship SS Keewatin from Skyline International.

Foundation president and CEO Eric Conroy has stated that the developer will turn the iconic tourist attraction over to the not-for-profit organization when an assessment of the ship’s market value is complete and a donation receipt is accepted by Revenue Canada.

A preliminary report from Corporate Valuation Services Limited of Toronto has indicated the luxury liner is worth
approximately $31.5 million.

The report noted that there are two methods of evaluation. One is based on the cost of the original construction by Fairfield Shipbuilding in Glasgow, Scotland adjusted to current currency standards. The second is an estimated cost of duplication.

The time adjusted estimate was not plausible. Due to extreme inflation over the years, the original construction costs would be worth $1.5 billion in today’s dollars.

To build a duplicate, the firm compared the Keewatin to a current cruise ship from Italy. The result was the more reasonable $31 million estimate.

Artifacts aboard the Kee were valued at about $500,000.

Mr. Conroy noted that Skyline would turn the ship over at a time it deems appropriate.

To download a PDF of this article, click here.

Updated February 12, 2016

BRING HER ON HOME – the story of the return of S.S. Keewatin to Port McNicoll – airs at 6:00 pm Monday February 22 on the CBC Documentary Channel… and repeats at 8:00 am Tuesday February 23. Tell your friends to watch / set their PVRs!