It hardly seems that long, but it really is eight years since the retirement from passenger service of the Great White Twins of the lakes, the Canadian Pacific Railway steamers KEEWATIN and ASSINIBOIA. Yes, it was the fall of 1965 that saw the end of the C. P. R. lake passenger service, although ASSINIBOIA carried on two more seasons in a freight-only capacity.
The subject of the C. P. R. boats was brought up recently when John Greenwood of Cleveland sent us a page out of the May 17, 1958, issue of Skillings' Mining Review. The page featured the "Marine News" column by Wesley R. Harkins, and we quote:
"A passenger ship in the Duluth-Superior harbor at this early stage of the navigation season is quite unusual, and it was doubly odd that it was one of the Canadian Pacific Railway's ships, the str. KEEWATIN. The ship arrived at Duluth early Tuesday morning, May 6, and moved across to Superior where she went on the dock at Knudsen Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. shipyard for propeller repairs. The ship had 'lost a bucket' (broken a propeller blade) just off Passage Island as she approached Port Arthur. Since the drydock at Port Arthur would not be available for about a week (str. NIPIGON BAY still in dock), the passenger ship moved under its own power to Superior for necessary repairs. Only one propeller blade was broken, but all four were replaced during the docking.
"The KEEWATIN is one of two sister ships that ply regularly between Fort William, Ont., and Port McNicoll, Ont. (on Georgian Bay) carrying package freight in the early and late parts of the season and passengers (and freight) in the summer months. The two ships (the other is the ASSINIBOIA) were built in Scotland in 1907 and brought to this side where they were cut in two for the move into the upper Great Lakes and then put back together again, Once reputed to be among the fastest ships on the Lakes (up to 18 m.p.h.) they make the run from the Lakehead to the Bay in 38 hours. The ships are 350 ft. in length, 43 ft. beam, and 15 ft. depth. They carry some 240 passengers and are manned by a crew of 86 men.
"The KEEWATIN completed its drydocking and was back on its way to the Lakehead Thursday evening, May 8."
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.