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Shipwrights by Improbable Escapes

Shipwrights by Improbable Escapes​An immersive ‘escape room’ experience with nautical-themed puzzles and challenges. Suitable for groups of 2-6 people.

Special Events

There’s always something new on the horizon. Discover our upcoming events, spread the word, and mark your calendar.

Children &
Youth (Age 5-13)

Programs to ignite curiosity and provide opportunity for exploration! Delivered virtually or in-person, these group programs can be adapted for ages 5-13.

Nautical
Nights

The Nautical Nights Speaker Series, in partnership with Kingston Yacht Club (KYC), has become an annual tradition at the Great Lakes Museum.

Lifelong
Learning

Life-long learning is a journey of continuous growth and development, enriching our lives with new knowledge and perspectives. Immerse yourself in the history of the Great Lakes!

About the
Collection

Archives and artefacts. A library collection covering all aspects of Canadian shipping and marine heritage. Photographs, shipping company collections and shipbuilding and design collections.

Ship Lists

A selection of unique registers of ships and individuals that were compiled to facilitate the research process.

Ways of Giving

Donate your time. Donate your money. Become a member. Leave a gift in your will. There are many ways to support the museum and we appreciate your interest in supporting the Great Lakes Museum!

The Story of the Great Lakes Museum

‘Know the Ropes’ – Museum News & Stories

Explore the rich maritime history of the Great Lakes, read the stories of our artefacts, find out interesting information to share at your next party! Know the Ropes shares a mix of museum news and interesting stories.

S. S. Keewatin

See the S.S. Keewatin!

The wait is finally over! Tickets for tours of the S.S. Keewatin are now available.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Two tours are being offered: the Passenger Experience and the Engine Room Experience
  • Special rates include a combination tour ticket for those interested in reserving both tours, along with a Family Rate ticket for 2 adults and 2 youth.
  • Visitors are encouraged to book in advance, we can not guarantee walk-up access
  • The ship is not physically accessible and requires visitors to walk up and down stairs. You should be comfortable standing or walking for up to 75 minutes.
  • Plan ahead and leave any large bags or knapsacks at home or in your car; they are not permitted on the ship. Limited storage will be available at the Museum
Passenger Experience on the S.S. Keewatin

S.S. Keewatin Passenger Experience

The S.S. Keewatin’s Passenger Experience invites you to step aboard with a knowledgeable tour guide to explore the decks, cabins and first-class accommodations of this historic Great Lakes steamship.

This tour is 75-minutes in duration and will require guests to move around the ship, including several stairwells. This ticket also includes admission to the Museum. Tickets are $39 for adults and $34 for youth/students, children under 5 are free. Family (2 adults, 2 youth) is $126.

Tours begin May 13th

Passenger experience - engine room

S.S. Keewatin Engine Room Experience

Take a journey below decks and get up close and personal with quadruple steam-powered engines – the same type of engine that powered the Titanic! This tour takes you through the ship’s Boiler Room and Engine Room and is 45-minutes in duration.

This ticket also includes admission to the Museum. Tickets are $25 for adults and $22 for youth/students, children under 5 are free. Family (2 adults, 2 youth) is $74.

Tours begin May 23rd

S.S. Keewatin - Hamilton to Kingston

Combination tour ticket

Interested in experiencing both tours? Reserve your spot using our combination tour ticket to take advantage of reduced rate. Follow the steps to book first your Passenger Experience then your Engine Room experience.

Tickets are $59 for adults, $51 for youth/students, children under 5 are free and the family rate is $200 (2 adults, 2 youth). Total visit time is 2.25 hours.

This ticket is available as of May 23rd.

The S.S. Keewatin

S.S. Keewatin on the way to Kingston

The Great Lakes Museum is pleased to announce the S.S. Keewatin arrived safely in Kingston, ON on Thursday October 26th, 2023! The Keewatin will open for tours May 13th, 2024. Buy your tickets now or follow us on social media @marinemuseumkingston for the latest information.

This historic ship, which is among the last of its kind, will be integrated into our extensive transportation collection covering the history of the Great Lakes. We’re thankful to our many supportive donors, volunteers, staff, and board members in helping us save this important artifact, and we look forward to introducing the ship to Kingston soon!

Facts About The Keewatin

steering wheel icon The Keewatin is an Edwardian-era (Titanic-era) steamship liner formerly owned by CP Rail and built in 1907 by the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co Ltd. of Glasgow, Scotland.

steering wheel icon CP Rail steamships such as SS Keewatin ferried tourists, settlers, and cargo throughout the Great Lakes until their retirement in the 1960s. This ship is one of the last of its kind, with its sister ship having been scrapped in 1970 following a fire.

steering wheel icon The ship appeared on CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries, episode 701, and was featured on a 2020 Royal Canadian Mint coin.

steering wheel icon There have been multiple books written about The Keewatin with additional information on its technical specifications and history. We look forward to sharing this information and our own research once the ship arrives in Kingston. Join our mailing list for the latest information on our planning and preparation for the Keewatin’s arrival or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

steering wheel icon The Keewatin will be underwent restoration work over the winter in preparation for its opening in May. Restoration will continue on the vessel year over year as we work to open more areas to the public.

Watch the S.S. Keewatin’s Arrival at the Kingston Dry Dock

October 26, 2023

What does it take to bring a steamship liner into Kingston’s dry dock? Watch the live-stream video and see what happened during the arrival.

Sneak peek

Frequently Asked Questions about the S.S. Keewatin

Why has the Museum acquired the Keewatin?

The story of the S.S. Keewatin and its sister ships is a story of Canada’s creation as a country and how the Great Lakes were used for transportation in the 20th century. It is vital that the ship, which is the last of its kind, be preserved for current and future generations. The Great Lakes Museum has both the expertise and funding to be able to do this. In fact, we’ve raised several million dollars from our generous supporters to fund extensive restoration work and its arrival in Kingston.

The ship will be integrated into our extensive transportation collection covering the past two hundred years of Great Lakes history and we look forward to sharing the many stories of the Keewatin, its crew and its passengers.

Who donated The Keewatin to the Marine Museum?

The Keewatin was donated to the Museum by its previous owners, Skyline Investments. They sought to donate it to a charity approved by Canadian Heritage that had the resources to care for the ship and was qualified to ensure the long-term preservation of Canadian cultural property such as the Keewatin.

Prior to Skyline’s purchase, it was owned by RJ and Diane Peterson of Douglas, Michigan, who purchased it from CP Rail upon the ship’s retirement. We’re grateful to all of the Keewatin’s past owners, as well as dedicated volunteers such as the Friends of Keewatin, for their efforts to preserve the ship. The story of the Keewatin and those who played a role in its creation and care will be documented and shared in the Museum once the Keewatin exhibits are completed.

We are also grateful to our many supportive members, donors, volunteers, staff, and Board Members in helping us preserve this important artifact.

What about the artifacts aboard the Keewatin?

We appreciate all those who have donated artifacts to the RJ and Diane Peterson Keewatin Foundation for display aboard the Keewatin. Those who are content to keep the artifact with the ship do not need to take any action. The artifacts will continue to be used and preserved as part of the ship’s museum programming. As part of our programming, we will broadly recognize that artifacts on-board the Keewatin have been donated by families, supporters, and fans of the Keewatin.

If you wish to request return of a family heirloom aboard the Keewatin, please contact us prior to Dec. 30, 2023, and include any proof of ownership you may possess. Note that, due to rules governing charities in Canada, we cannot return artifacts in situations where the donor has received a charitable tax receipt.

How can I help prepare the Keewatin for tour next spring?

If you’re interested in volunteering with our Museum, please email us, phone us, or stop by during business hours. Thank you for your interest!

In addition, if you or family members have stories or artifacts from the Keewatin or its sister ship, S.S. Assiniboia, we’d love to know! It was not uncommon for people to get married, celebrate honeymoons, or take other special or memorable trips aboard these ships, and the ships were also homes to several meaningful careers. We would love to include your family story in our future exhibits.

Please complete our Volunteer Application Form here.

Why won't the ship open for tours until May 2024?

There are two answers; first, the ship isn’t heated so will not be open in the winter months; and second, restoration work, cleaning and staging will be taking place over the winter to prepare the ship for visitors. The ship has not welcomed visitors since 2019, so there is much to be done before it’s ready to welcome visitors.

What sorts of activities and services will the Museum offer aboard the Keewatin?

The Museum is preparing exhibits, programs, and historical information to complement the Keewatin as part of the Museum’s collection. This summer, we are offering two guided tours: the Passenger Experience and the Engine Room Experince. Information on book your tour available here.

What happened to the Museum's previous ship?

Our Museum left its current location in 2016 when the building was sold by the Federal Government of Canada (who had leased the building to us). Note that the Great Lakes Museum is an independent not-for-profit that is primarily funded through donations and cultural programs.

When the building was sold, we were without a location to moor the CCGS Alexander Henry and were forced to part ways with it. It is now in Thunder Bay, where it was originally constructed, and being cared for by the Lakehead Transportation Museum Society. Funding to relocate and preserve the Alexander Henry was provided by the City of Kingston, the City of Thunder Bay, and private donors. Relocating the ship was the most affordable option at the time and was preferable to sinking it or scrapping it.

In 2019, we were able to acquire the funds to purchase our original building when the developer who had purchased the property sold it. We have been seeking a museum ship for our dry dock since that time. The Keewatin is a unique, highly desirable, and valuable artifact and, since the Museum now owns its current building with its historic dry dock, we do not foresee a similar situation occurring again.

What was the cost to relocate the Keewatin and who is paying?
The Great Lakes Museum has fundraised for the restoration and towing of the Keewatin. The ship is structurally sound, according to an independent expert review, and required $2 million in repairs to ensure she is preserved for decades to come. These costs were borne by the Museum and its donors.
The Museum is an independent not-for-profit supported by donors and grants. Cultural resources like Museums are important drivers of tourism and civic pride. Once the Keewatin arrives, the Museum anticipates participating in tourism-related government programs, supporting the ship’s preservation and Kingston’s tourism economy.
Who may I contact with further questions?

Please contact the Museum at marmus@marmuseum.ca. We will do our best to respond as soon as we can.