OWEN SOUND—Work on the new bow decal for the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry is moving forward despite the inclement weather of the past few days and should be ready in plenty of time for the start of the sailing season on May 5.
“It isn’t finished yet,” said Susan Schrempf, CEO of the Owen Sound Transportation Company. “They are hoping to complete the starboard side between rain storms this week. The tentative plan is to turn the ship at end of the week so they can complete the port side over the Easter weekend and early next week.”
The Woodland School of Art-inspired artwork being added to the vessel, which plies the waters between Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island’s southern edge at South Baymouth, carries vehicles and passengers to create a three season link between southern Ontario and the North.
The artwork is part of a rebranding of the MS Chi-Cheemaun as a destination of its own self, rather than its historical context strictly as a transportation link. The rebranding came about as the result of a marketing survey that identified the new destination strategy as a sound response to the challenges that have arisen as a result of the continued four-laning of Highway 69 into a 400-series highway and other transportation changes.
The decals are just the outward cosmetic indication of a paradigm change in the ferry, bringing a redesigned complement of customer services, including new washrooms, dining and entertainment areas along with a complete revamp of the ship’s forward lounge, the Five Fathom Lounge and the tourism information centre. The new upgrades will provide better support for live concerts, on-board events and displays, many of which are designed to leverage the opportunities of Manitoulin Island.
The new bow wrap will compliment the decals applied last year to the stack and the year before to the sides. The first stage of the new artwork saw decals applied to the sides of the ship reading ‘Travel in Good Spirits’ and the funnel now boasts images of turtle, moose and bear, all created in the style founded by Norval Morriseau with its bright colours jumping out through the offices of bold dark outlining.
The events and activities slated for the ship this year include concerts and dinner cruises, a Parks Canada interpreter on summer sailings and traditional storytelling with M’Chigeeng’s own Falcon Migwans, as well as a Stargazing Tour and special music programming that is being brought to the seaborne venue through a partnership with the Georgian Bay Folk Society.
As has become a sought-after tradition on the Great Lakes, the MS Chi-Cheemaun will depart on its annual Spring Cruise from Owen Sound (sold out yet again) to its summer berth in Tobermory on Thursday, May 4, and will begin the 2017 sailing season on Friday, May 5 with its 8:50 am departure from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island. The return trip from Manitoulin to Tobermory is scheduled for 11:10 am the same day.
“I wish I could be there to watch her come into South Baymouth,” said Ms. Schrempf, who has shepherded the rebranding efforts from their inception. “It is going to look fantastic.”