The weather was ideal for the annual Autumnal family portrait of my brother, sis-in-law, and nephew. This years request was for water in the background. That was easy to find, back home. Alas, lots of people were enjoying the weather there too. With a polite word and clever framing, we were able to situate ourselves on a small dock we ended up sharing with a family fishing. The additional challenge was to pull focus back from a five year old boy watching others with worms and bugs. He’s such a boy!
24x24, anchor, bike, brick, canada, charlie whiskey, charlie whiskey art co, crown and anchor, decor, Design, Georgian Bay, livingroom, mantle, Maple Leaf, Midland, Painting, riding old school, sailor, Ship, wood
My alter-ego/nato-name/sub-co, Charlie Whiskey Art Co., is off to a bold start! This gallery is of 24″x24″x2″ paintings on wood board, that are made for the wall. If interested, please contact me directly or visit me at http://www.charliewhiskeyart.ca for more information.
One hundred years ago to the date, the S.S.Keewatin came to Port McNicoll from her madien trek from Scotland. An Edwardian ship for people to cruise the beautiful Georgian Bay in style. In a time when cruise ships were about the adventure of seeing sights, enjoying the company of others, mingling in a simple comfortable style.
She is five years older than the Titanic and through seeing recorded details, it is easy to see the influences she had on that historic ship. As it is, the only two Edwardian ships left are the Keewatin and what remains of on the ocean floor of the great ship, Titanic.
After years of service, a slow death came to her sisters as such ships were no longer being used as they once were. As the railroad began to change course. As times changed. Thankfully, The Keewatin was saved from scrap by a man in Michigan who bought her, linens and all. It is there that she has been sitting. Moored in mud, from what is said.
The change in times certainly had its effect on the village who lost the lustre of cruise ships, the epic gardens to greet the tourists, the buzz had left and what was to be Chicago on the North had completed its peak.
In the day, my Grandfather worked on the Keewatin, Assiniboia and such. Many years later as a kid, I used to go down to the slip to go swimming. My brothers, friends and I would climb the links of the grain ships anchoured and jump in. People would fish, small boats would take little detours, dogs would cool off. Nothing fancy. Just a walk to the slip.
All this has certainly changed with the attention of Skyline, a company fronted by a man who took a shine to the small village. The land near the slip has now been leveled and million dollar homes are being built. There are ambitious plans to change the waterfront into a luxury destination. As exciting as this is, my concern is for the people of the village. One can only imagine how multi-generational families of this community will be able to afford the taxes and additional increase to their bills that will arise from such change. It will be awhile before the village will be what it once was, even to what it was when I lived there. A village that could maintain two grocery stores, several variety stores, a doctors office, restaurants and cafes, credit union and more (which are all but closed down). Now there is even very real fear that the historic and only school will be closing down.
Alas, all this fretting was lost on Saturday June 23rd, when we all watched the beautiful, majestic, Keewatin come back home.
My Dad and I went early, as he is President of the Lion’s club and the Lions were hosting the BBQ. There was much work to do and there wasn’t a better day to do it. The weather was beautiful, the people were happy and the shuttle buses were never ending.
Approximately 4000 people were to show up (did I mention the pop. of Port is about 1200). There was a 300 member choir, complete with the children from the school. There were native drummers and dancers, music and dancing from clubs in the area. We all awaited the arrival.
She did not disappoint. In the distance we could see hundreds of boats of people watching from the water. We were awed by the little navy schooner that came into the slip and were shaken every time she fired a ‘cannon’ (just loud power and smoke). And then as we saw the Keewatin, being tugged in, everyone smiled and truly awed.
I wish my brother, who couldn’t make it, could have been there with me as I stood smiling, taking photos, taking in this history. I also wished our Grandfather had been there to see her come back. I chatted with others and smiled at so many of those who had worked on the ship as well. I wondered if any might have known him. He was a man of few words, but I’m sure he would mumble up a good story and be smiling.
I feel as though I was there for those in my family, who could not be. I was one of many witnessing this amazing history. I know without a doubt I love being near the water, it is in my blood. And although I will never own a million dollar home back home, I do know that being part of a community is pretty special, and certainly when such events can be shared.
I cannot wait for a tour of the Keewatin. To walk into the history. To feel the waves, the breeze, to hold the rail and imagine another time.
Thank you Skyline for bringing back our history.