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Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- Chi-Cheemaun

By George Wharton

Designed specifically for handling vehicular and passenger traffic between Tobermory, ON and South Baymouth, ON on Manitoulin Island; the ferry Chi-Cheemaun was launched Jan. 12, 1974 for the Ontario Northland Marine Services (Owen Sound Transportation Co., Ltd., Owen Sound, ON - managers). She was built at a cost of $10 million by Collingwood Shipyards, Collingwood, ON. Her power is derived from 2 Ruston V-16 cylinder 3,500 horsepower diesel engines driving 2 propellers giving her a rated service speed of 16.25 knots. The Chi-Cheemaun is equipped with motion stabilizers, a tilting bow entry, a stern ramp door, and a 236 seat cafeteria. Built for day crossings only, the Chi-Cheemaun is not equipped with over-night accommodations. She can handle a maximum of 140 standard North American sized cars and 638 passengers at her maximum draft of 13 feet. During the busy summer season, the Chi-Cheemaun usually makes four round trips daily using approximately 1,600 litres (422.7 US gallons) of fuel per sailing. During the winter, she lays up at Owen Sound, ON.

The Chi-Cheemaun was built to replace the Norisle (launched July 15, 1946; now a museum/restaurant moored at Manitowaning, ON) and the Norgoma (launched Dec. 22, 1949; now a museum ship at Sault Ste. Marie, ON). Her name Chi-Cheemaun is the Ojibway Indian word for "Big Canoe". She was originally to have been named Itche-Cheemaun but was changed to Chi-Cheemaun when she was christened on June 15, 1974.

The Chi-Cheemaun opened Owen Sound's 1999 navigation season on May 3rd when she sailed for Collingwood for rededication services of the ship upon the 25th anniversary of her original christening.


Overall dimensions
Length 365'05"
Beam 61'00"
Depth 21'00"
Capacity 6991 gross tons - 638 passengers

In October 2001 the Chi-Cheemaun arrived in Thunder Bay of its required 5-year survey. Pictures by Rob Farrow

In the Dry Dock

Survey complete the Chi Cheemaun departs in November 2001




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