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S.S. Keewatin, Grand Lady of The Lakes

Updated: Jan 15

Enjoy our images of the S.S. Keewatin's journey down the Detroit River, and some of the history of this floating piece of nautical history.

Historic Great Lakes cruise ship S.S. Keewatin at sunset with the Ambassador Bridge
S.S. Keewatin nears the Ambassador Bridge

On April 26th 2023, the beautiful Edwardian era Great Lakes cruise ship S.S. Keewatin made her sunset journey past Windsor and Detroit, on her way to her future home, the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes in Kingston. I have known of the Keewatin for many years, and have long wanted to see her. She did not disappoint.

Great Lakes cruise ship S.S. Keewatin in tow down the Detroit River

Crowds gathered along the waterfront to take in the beautiful lines of the Keewatin.

High resolution images or prints of Keewatin are available

History cruise ship S.S. Keewatin being guided past the Renaissance Center in Detroit by Chalet Studio Photography
Keewatin passes by the Renaissance Centre in Detroit

The S.S. Keewatin was built in Scotland in 1907 by the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company. The vessel was 350 feet long and weighed 3,870 gross tons, making it one of the largest and most luxurious ships of its time. The ship was designed to carry passengers and cargo between the western ports of Lake Superior and the eastern ports of Lake Huron.

Profile view of the Edwardian cruise ship S.S. Keewatin on the Detroit River by Chalet Studio Photography
They sure don't build them like this anymore...

The vessel was the pride of the Canadian Pacific Railway's fleet for almost six decades. The ship was an integral part of the shipping industry during that period and played a crucial role in the development of the Great Lakes region.

The S.S. Keewatin making her way through the Great Lakes under the guidance of the tugs Molly M1 and the Manitou

The Keewatin's maiden voyage took place on May 7, 1908, when it sailed from Port McNicoll, Ontario, to Fort William, Ontario. The ship quickly became a popular mode of transportation for passengers and freight due to its size, speed, and luxurious amenities. The Keewatin was equipped with state-of-the-art features such as electric lights, steam heat, and running water.

A spectacular sunset on the Detroit River as Great Lakes cruise ship S.S. Keewatin passed by. Chalet Studio Photography
What a sunset to usher Keewatin under the Ambassador Bridge

Under the light of a perfect sunset, S.S. Keewatin passes once again under the Ambassador Bridge

Built in 1907, the S.S. Keewatin passes under the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor Ontario
The sun sets on Keewatin's Detroit River passage

During the peak of its operation, the Keewatin transported over 1 million passengers and 300,000 tons of freight annually. The ship also played an important role in the growth and development of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which owned and operated the vessel until 1965.

A cruise ship at sunset on the Detroit river
Keewatin with the remains of the Boblo Dock

After its retirement, the Keewatin was left abandoned in a port in Douglas, Michigan, for several years. In 1967, the ship was purchased by R.J. Peterson, who had the vessel towed to Port McNicoll, Ontario, where it was restored to its former glory. The ship was then transformed into a museum and tourist attraction, where visitors could experience what it was like to sail aboard a luxurious Edwardian era cruise ship.

A close up view of the S.S. Keewatin cruise ship from 1907 on the Detroit river

S.S. Keewatin is the last Edwardian (Titanic era) passenger steamship.

A tug boat leads the S.S. Keewatin Great Lakes cruise ship on the Detroit river at Amherstburg. Chalet Studio Photography
Keewatin passing Amherstburg Ontario

With Molly M1 leading the way, S.S. Keewatin passes by Amherstburg. With additional lighting from above by expert drone pilot Michael Chase, of Windsor Aerial Drone Photography. It was a lot of fun to team up with Michael to pull off some night time imagery. Make sure to look up Michael's beautiful aerial images of the voyage.

Night time photo of the Great Lakes cruise ship S.S. Keewatin passing Amherstburg
Farewell Keewatin

It was time very well spent following this beautiful liner along the Detroit river. I was sad to se her slip into the darkness after this moment, but I can't wait to go on board this spectacular piece of history soon at the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes.

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