Another door has opened to try to keep the SS Keewatin in Port McNicoll.
While a petition to keep the Edwardian-era vessel in its home port has now garnered close to 9,000 signatures, the man behind the petition is involved with an additional campaign designed to lobby all levels of government to consider the ship’s plight.
“In the last 14 days we have created a brand new public action group,” said local resident Dan Travers, who's a college professor and the author of two books on public history.
“So, our campaign to #keepkeewatinhome is just beginning! We now have a twitter feed (@homekeewatin), a website and have a graphic designer working on a logo for signs.”
The latest development follows a move by the ship’s owner, Skyline Investments, to give its approval to a project headed by a Kingston museum to bring the ship there.
“We hoped that Friends of Keewatin would be granted the federal heritage designation to allow them to take possession of the ship from Skyline Investments,” Travers said.
“However, a preliminary application was not accepted, and we learned two weeks ago that the Maritime Museum of the Great Lakes in Kingston has put in for a designation with the intention of taking the ship there.”
Built in Scotland, the vessel was launched on July 6, 1907, five years before the Titanic. It was retired in 1966 after spending almost 60 seasons transporting passengers on the Great Lakes.
While Travers's group is happy the ship won’t be sold for scrap, it noted it doesn’t make sense for the ship to leave the area.
“Sending the ship out of Simcoe and to a place with absolutely no connection to her history is completely unacceptable to us,” Travers said. “The Keewatin is part of the physical and heritage landscape of Port McNicoll, and it is time Skyline Investments and the federal government honour their promises to the people of this region.”
The group outlines how area residents can help turn the tide back in Port McNicoll’s favour.
For example, the website includes a link to a new House of Commons petition directed to the minister of Canadian heritage, which calls for the Government of Canada to ensure the SS Keewatin remains in Port McNicoll.
“It is available to residents of Simcoe County, regardless of age,” said Travers. “Each signatory merely needs their own email address.”
As well, anyone in North Simcoe can email the group with their address at [email protected] and they will send out a window sign for their home or business as soon as they are ready.