An iconic local Georgian Bay tour boat is coming home.
After a year working as The Tobermory Legacy, the former Miss Midland will begin a new life serving residents and visitors from the Penetanguishene town dock.
“We are in the final stages of hammering out a contract with the municipality of Penetanguishene to bring the Miss Midland back to the area for fantastic dinner, lunch, sightseeing and sunset cruises,” said Landmark Cruises efficiency coordinator Brenna Urbanek.
“We have big plans to support the municipality of Penetanguishene as a good corporate citizen, bringing focus to historical, and educational aspects of this beautiful community.”
Both Penetanguishene and Midland were without a boat cruise operator as the Miss Midland headed to Tobermory and a proposal to bring the Island Princess to the area from Orillia fell through at both locations.
But in the fall, Penetanguishene sent out an RFP to try to lure a tour boat back to the municipality.
The town invited proposals from experienced and qualified boat tour operators looking to offer a location in which to do business.
“The town released the RFP for a boat tour operator as we had two interested parties reach out to us looking to secure space at the wharf,” Sherry Desjardins, Penetanguishene’s recreation & community services director, explained at the time.
“In an effort to provide a fair and equal opportunity to both parties, as well as secure the most suitable and competent operator for the town, staff released a request for proposals.”
The official welcoming of the new boat along with a name unveiling is tentatively scheduled for May 20 pending COVID restrictions and weather.
And despite moving one of its vessels, Urbanek said the company hasn't left Tobermory and maintains a big presence and investment there.
"We are only moving one ship at this time," she said. "However our other ventures are still going strong. Opportunities have presented themselves both in Tobermory and Southern Georgian Bay. We're simply adjusting to them."
She said Penetanguishene is well situated in the sheltered waters of Southern Georgian Bay and the 30,000 Islands.
"It's a town rich in history, great boating and welcoming people. What's not to like about Penetanguishene?," Urbanek added.
Urbanek also noted Landmark Cruises is holding a renaming contest for the former Miss Midland.
The top three winners will be selected by Landmark Cruises Inc. then submitted to the town to place in first, second and third position.
The third place entrant will receive two scenic cruise tickets with the second place finisher getting two scenic lunch cruise tickets, which include a chef-prepared meal.
The grand prize winner will get two tickets for a scenic dinner cruise including a chef-prepared meal, an invitation to be front and centre at the naming ceremony, a free cruise for two on the launch date “and bragging rights for naming the vessel!”
In its earlier RFP, Penetanguishene said a prospective vessel would dock on the town’s concrete pier and have access to hydro, water and wastewater all on a fee for service basis.
The town also said it would consider the placement of a ticket sale kiosk for operations on municipal land and work with the successful proponent on a mutually agreed upon arrangement.
Added Desjardins: “We know there is a void in North Simcoe as visitors often inquire about the availability of scenic boat tours at our Tourist Information Centre.”
In 2020, Gerry Hogenhout and his business partners from Georgian Shores Catering outlined plans to move the Island Princess from the Port of Orillia to Midland where it would permanently stay at a dock near Pettersen Park.
They later decided to move it to the Penetanguishene town dock before finally opting to keep it in Orillia. Now it is not a tour boat, but is permanently moored at the Port of Orillia and is used as a Mexican restaurant.