S.S. Keewatin


New for February 12, 2016:
* Regular Season extended to Thanksgiving Day.
* HST is now applicable, and additional.
* Dock upgrade starts in November.

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

This year we’ll open for our Regular Season on the Victoria Day long weekend, add evening tours on weekends during the summer (Canada Day – Labour Day) and close on Thanksgiving Day.

  1. Dates and Times:
    New opening and closing dates, same times, for standard tours:
    * Open every day between Thu. May 19 and Mon. Oct. 10: no reservations.
    * Standard Tours start every half hour, on the hour and half hour
    – between 9:30 and 3:30 Monday through Saturday
    – between 11:30 and 3:30 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 additional.
  3. New in 2016:
    * Summer Evening Standard Tours: every Friday and Saturday between July 1 and September 3.
    * More Ghost Tours: every Friday and Saturday evening between September 30 and October 29.

We have some exciting new features and events in the works. (Lots) more to come!

We’re looking-forward to getting the dock upgraded later this year, after our Complete Season closes.

To view this story as it appears on the Midland Mirror website, click here.
To download the Tay Township Report for December 11, 2015, click here. This story appears on page 10.
To view the CTV News – Barrie December 9, 2015 video clip, click here.

From DRONE-ON.com:
December 9th was a fantastic day for the “Friends of Keewatin”. We got to play SANTA to thousands of kids through the communities in and around Simcoe North and the HEART of Georgian Bay!

It all started when Scotty Warnock put out an appeal for  350 toys to be utilized in TAY Township where Keewatin is anchored. I decided to give him a hand as being a volunteer with the Toronto Santa Claus Parade for 30 years gave me an intimate knowledge on how the Elves work. A few calls and it was assumed by reaction that Scotty would get his wish.

Little did we expect to end up with 15,000 new, brand name toys from dolls and teddy bears to Hot Wheels and  a set of hockey jerseys.

The next call was to Thomson Terminals, a great friend of Santa’s parade and a supporter of KEEWATIN.


The logistic experts warehoused the product and Jim Thomson, himself with a youthful upbringing in Waubaushene  a town in Tay Township offered one of his incredible trucks and a crew to help.

Scotty, the Mayor we now call Scotty Claus called all the other Mayors and the Warden of Simcoe county to announce TAY would share their trove and asked that each town solicit organizations that held toy drives and a movement was begun.

The Commander of the Ontario Provincial Police offered two Police Cars to escort this vast toy truck, a day was chosen and a name was set.               THE GREAT CHRISTMAS TOY CARAVAN.

At 10 am on Wednesday  the truck started in Penetanguishene and dropped their toys to a waiting crowd. At 11am we were in Perkinsfield in Tiny Township being met with well wishers as well as hot coffee. Christian Island First Nations were also part of the gathering. By noon we were into Midland and the Rec Centre. At this point we were ahead of time but again a large happy audience greeted us and helped unload. From Midland it was a short run to Victoria Harbour the Capital of Tay Township.

Even Council, who were sitting came out to enjoy the festive atmosphere. Then it was a longer haul to Midhurst where the County Office was and the Simcoe County EMS who have an active toy drive were out with signs and banners and made short work of unloading their requirements. From there it was a short run into the big city of Barrie and their CTV2 TV Station. They have run a County wide Toy drive for years called TOY MOUNTAIN. CTV 2 actually had Heather Butts, a video/reporter follow us for part of the day and she filmed as we put toys under the stations tree, then went on to the warehouse of the Children’s Aid Society that go the rest of the items..at 4pm we were finished..

Great Day, Great Volunteers, great cause…Now, what are the “Friends of Keewatin going to do to beat that one!

July 15, 2015.
News Release
For Immediate Release

Keewatin Increases Surveillance
Starts Security System Fundraising Campaign

Stung by a recent theft and break-in after almost four uneventful years on the Port McNicoll town dock, Friends of Keewatin has increased surveillance and started a fundraising campaign for a new security system.

In the last month S.S. Keewatin has suffered both a daytime loss of cash, and damage and a loss of property… two empty cash registers… at night. “It won’t happen again!” says Barb Benson, the Volunteer who runs the store and ticket sales on Keewatin. “We’re monitoring the till during the day, and we’ve increased surveillance at night.”

“This is disappointing.” Benson, a longtime Port McNicoll resident, continued. “The whole point of returning the ship to Port McNicoll is to benefit the community. Volunteers have donated thousands of hours in time, expertise and effort, and supporters have donated thousands of dollars in money, materials, and labour to help restore the ship. I resent having to divert any more resources to prevent unauthorized entry. But it has to be done.”

“The sad part is that there is nothing on the ship of commercial value. Cash is removed from the ship each night, the memorabilia we sell is branded, and everything else is a documented historical artifact of interest only to a museum. Whoever stole the cash registers got nothing at all: the cash registers were empty except for loose change, and useless to anyone else. But they broke a century-old beveled glass window getting to the cash registers, forced us to buy two new cash registers, and created hours of programming work to get them setup.”

“As a charity, Friends of Keewatin cannot maintain intense human surveillance for long: it is simply too costly. That’s why we’ve started a fundraising campaign for a new, state of the art security system: our kickoff is today. The system we need will cost about $30,000. We welcome donations in any amount.”

Donations may be made in person at the ship, by postal mail, or at:

For more information, contact
Wayne Coombes – marketing & communications
(705) 528-9227 | wayne@waynecoombes.com

To view this story as it appears on the Midland Mirror website, click here.
To download the Tay Township Report for October 30 2015, click here. This story appears on page 6.

From DRONE-ON.com:



After hearing a noise in the early morning hours of August 1, Eric Conroy, the Chief Executive Officer and the driving force behind the Friends of the SS Keewatin in Port McNicoll, took a tumble in the night and suffered a broken wrist, a gash on the forehead and several other bruises.

The fall was an awakening of sorts. This week, Mr. Conroy, affectionately known as “Captain Rick”, announced he would step down next year. Mr. Conroy’s injuries were a bit more severe than they first seemed. He had suffered a concussion, and Captain Rick began to wonder about his future.

Turning 70 years of age, he considered how much longer he could keep up the seven day a week pace for the Keewatin. As well, he felt his wife, who has major health issues of her own, deserved more of his attention.

What would happen to her if I was gone? Mr. Conroy asked himself. As a second thought, what would happen to the Keewatin?

The Keewatin has been a lifelong passion for the former cabin boy who was instrumental in saving the iconic luxury liner from the scrap yard and bringing her home to Port McNicoll in 2012.

A lengthy report, intended to dispel rumors and plan for the future, was distributed to the Friends of the Keewatin last week.

In the report, Mr. Conroy outlined the history of the ship’s return to its home port and congratulated the army of volunteers who have worked so diligently to make the new tourist attraction a huge success over the past three years.

“I acknowledge that I could not have done this without each of you,” Mr. Conroy states.

Still, most of the major decisions have been Mr. Conroy’s sole responsibility, and at times, that has created a rocky road, he admitted.“In any small group or organization, there will be personal conflicts, disagreement and like we have seen, uprisings,” the report  states. “They can be fatal to a community group.”  

One man should not have that much power, he told The Tay Report on Tuesday afternoon.

Explaining that he will become strictly a volunteer and will not be on the pay roll after November , Mr. Conroy outlined a plan to establish a new corporate structure.He suggested that seven to nine non-paid trustees should be appointed and the trustees would create a board of directors. Finally, a paid general manager accountable to the board of directors should be hired by April 1. In that way, the responsibility of the decision-making process would be shared.  

Mr. Conroy also stated that there is still a great deal of work ahead, and Skyline International, which still owns the ship, has requested Mr. Conroy to continue to “chase donations and government grants” until the transition is complete. He will also help out with work on the dock and the park, along with consulting services if required.

Mr. Conroy is adamant that Skyline will soon turn ownership over to the Friends of the Keewatin and that negotiations for the future park are ongoing.


Visit by boat

Now you can visit S.S. Keewatin by boat.

We have docks with room for up to 8 boats under 30 feet or 4 boats over 30 feet. Free docking while you visit Keewatin in Port McNicoll harbour right beside the ship. Signs clearly mark where you can put in. Sail in and visit!


The threat of rain kept the “sunny skies only” cars at home, but what the visit lacked in quantity it certainly made up in quality. Great people! Beautiful Cars!

Georgian Bay British Car Club
The Club is a friendly, social gathering place for sharing our interest in driving, maintaining, and enjoying our precious “vehicles”. Based in Collingwood, membership stretches from Owen Sound in the West; Midland and Barrie in the East; Orangeville in the South, with some members from Toronto who have weekend places in our area. If you’ve always wanted, or already have, a British car and reside here, this club is for you.


Want to read Mike Filey’s article about Keewatin and Port McNicoll in the Toronto Sun’s Sunday Sun edition for June 21, 2015? Click Here! to view or download a PDF.

 Roger KleinRoger Klein, Reporter/Videographer, Georgian Bay Bureau,
CTV News Barrie

Published Wednesday, October 22, 2014 8:24PM EDT

The S.S. Keewatin steamship in Port McNicoll is getting a facelift.

The ship, which is often referred to as a “sister ship” to the Titanic, was built in 1907 and spent years as a passenger liner.

It sat in the United States for years after its service ended, but was brought to Port McNicoll recently by an extensive community effort.

Eric Conroy, president and CEO of the ‘Friends of the Keewatin’ group, says more than $1,000,000 has been spent since the ship arrived in Port McNicoll.

“We finally rebuilt the storm deck which is the top roof of the deck, so now we are able to bring the life boats back,” said Conroy. “We had to bring them back separately by truck because they were in such bad condition.”

A crane donated by two brothers whose father worked on the ship in the 1940s, was used to put the life boats on the top deck.

“It’s an important part of the history of Port McNicoll” said Kevin Mateff, one of the two brothers.

Marvin Wright is the engineer overseeing the restoration of the ship’s boiler room, which he notes was built with much different technology than what’s available today.

“Nobody had a computer,” he said. “It was all done with a slide rule and a piece of paper and a pencil and it works, and it still works. Can we say that about the things we make today? I’m not sure.”

Volunteers describe the restoration work as “not hard hours but fun hours.”

Since the Keewatin was returned to Port McNicoll two years ago, more than 50,000 people have come to see the ship.

Read more: http://barrie.ctvnews.ca/ship-restored-to-former-glory-1.2066685#ixzz3H0tTLfYU