MS Chi-Cheemaun

MS Chi-Cheemaun is a passenger and vehicle ferry in Ontario, Canada, which traverses Lake Huron between Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula and South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island. The ferry connects the two geographically separate portions of Highway 6 and is the vessel that replaced MS Norgoma and SS Norisle in 1974. The ferry service runs seasonally from mid-May to mid-October.

Chi-Cheemaun Ferry 2017.jpg
Name: Chi-Cheemaun
Owner: Owen Sound Transportation Company
Operator: Owen Sound Transportation Company
Port of registry:  Canada, Owen Sound
Route: Tobermory, Bruce PeninsulaSouth Baymouth, Manitoulin Island
Builder: Collingwood Shipbuilding
Cost: CAD$10 million
Yard number: 346838
Laid down: January 1974
Maiden voyage: September 10, 1974
Status: Operational
General characteristics
Length: 111 m (364 ft)
Beam: 19 m (62 ft)
  • 3.53 m (11.6 ft) forward
  • 3.97 m (13.0 ft) aft
Depth: 6.4 m (21 ft)
Installed power: 9,200 hp (6,860 kW) 8-cylinder Caterpillar V8 diesels
Propulsion: 4 × 2,300 hp (1.7 MW) diesel; 1 × 800 hp (600 kW) bow thruster
Speed: 16.25 knots (30.10 km/h; 18.70 mph)
Capacity: 638 passengers; 140 autos

Literally translated, "chi-cheemaun" (in folk orthography or chi-jiimaan in the more standard Fiero double vowel spelling) means "big canoe" in Ojibwe.


A trip aboard Chi-Cheemaun is a long standing Great Lakes tradition dating back to the 1930s when a small, wooden vessel, Kagawong, first ferried vehicles across the Georgian Bay between Tobermory and South Baymouth.[1] It features a drive-on, drive-off bow and stern loading and unloading through a visored bow system and a square door stern section. The ship is 111 m (364 ft) with a 19 m (62 ft) beam and has capacity for 648 passengers and 143 vehicles, including room for large highway vehicles such as buses and transport trucks.

Chi-Cheemaun was initially powered by two Ruston 3500 horsepower (2.6 MW) diesel engines and an 800-horsepower (600 kW) bow thruster engine for improved handling of the vessel at slow speeds. During the 2006–2007 winter layover period, her Ruston engines were replaced with four Caterpillar V8 diesels.[2] The addition of two mezzanine decks in 1982 increased the ship's vehicle carrying capacity.

Like her predecessors on Lake Huron, Chi-Cheemaun is owned by Owen Sound Transportation Company Limited, an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, and operated under contract to the Ministry of Transportation.

Chi-Cheemaun makes the 40 km (25 mi) trip in about one hour and 45 minutes, three times each day during peak season and twice a day (with an extra trip Fridays) during May/June and September/October.[3]

From 1989 to 1992, her sister ship, MS Nindawayma, ran the same route, but was retired because of service problems leading to public dissatisfaction and sat rusting in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario until it was finally broken up in 2012.

Information radioEdit

Two low power radio stations, CHEI-FM (89.9 FM in South Baymouth) and CHEE-FM (89.9 FM in Tobermory) broadcast tourist notices and schedule information for travellers on the ferry.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Tour the Cheec". Owen Sound Transportation Company. 2011. Archived from the original on 3 September 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  2. ^ Owen Sound Times[dead link]
  3. ^ "Ferry Schedule" (PDF). Ontario Ferries. Owen Sound Transportation Company. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  4. ^ Secretary General (17 February 1999). "Decision CRTC 99-40 New very low power seasonal radio services to provide Information on local ferry services". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Retrieved 13 September 2011.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit