She is the last British-built Edwardian steamship, and the sole survivor of CPR’s Great Lakes passenger fleet. SS Keewatin steams across this coin’s reverse… and on its obverse too!
The dual-sided design on this 50 mm coin is a finely crafted tribute to the Canadian Pacific Railway steamship that was once part of the journey west.
Between 1908 and 1965, Keewatin ferried passengers and freight between Port Arthur/Fort William (present-day Thunder Bay), Ont., and Port McNicoll, Ont. And that is where she resides today, as a lovingly maintained time capsule that keeps Canada’s cultural, social and industrial history afloat.
The Story of SS Keewatin
Five years older than Titanic,” SS Keewatin was built in 1907 in Govan, Scotland, in the same Edwardian-era tradition – and with a similar focus on luxury, comfort and class – as the famous ocean liner. After crossing the Atlantic, Keewatin entered service in 1908 as part of CPR’s Upper Great Lakes fleet. And for more than 50 seasons, her lake route was the two-and-a-half-day run from her home port of Port McNicoll, Ont., to another key CPR terminal, Port Arthur/Fort William (now Thunder Bay), Ont.
But as freight transportation shifted to planes, trains and automobiles, the “Kee” was focused on transporting tourists as part of a Canadian Pacific Rail Boat/Train tourist offering called "The Canadian." She was eventually retired on November 28, 1965.
Doomed to be scrapped, Keewatin was saved when a historian purchased her in 1967 and towed her to Lake Kalamazoo, where she served as a maritime museum. In 2011, the Friends of Keewatin acquired the historic ship, and in 2012, this grand lady came home once more.