For Saultites missing the Chief Shingwauk rolling up and down the St. Mary’s River, the Miss Marie has arrived to take you on a two-hour tour or host you and your friends for a private party.
The pride of Sault Lock Tours, the Miss Marie just received $162,750 from the Ontario government through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (NOHFC) towards its purchase.
Sault MPP Ross Romano, on hand for the funding announcement Wednesday morning on the waterfront, is elated the city has its lock tour boat back. The Chief Shingwauk closed operations in 2008.
“It’s a very positive feeling,” said Romano. “The fact that we were able to return our lock boat tours to the community is something that a lot of people have spoke about for a lot of years.”
Built in 1980, the 100-passenger Miss Marie was originally Miss Toronto, and home was on the waterfront of The Big Smoke, not far from where Billy Bishop Airport is today.
The Miss Marie has been extensively renovated, updated and also expanded. Three full-time and 18 part-time staff comprise the crew. The vessel embarks on two cruises of the St. Mary’s River on the Canadian side daily, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Customers can purchase tickets for the two-hour cruise online or at the Sault Lock Tours dock.
In addition to the tours, the boat can be chartered in the evenings for private events. Sheila Purvis, the ship’s co-owner along with Jeff DiCorpo, says business is off to a great start. “Our numbers are increasing as the weather is warming up,” said Purvis. “The kids are out of school so we’re looking for increased numbers, daily. We had two sellouts this past weekend and had to leave some people at the dock, unfortunately.”
Purvis said several parties deserve thanks for making the project a success. “We’re thrilled,” offered Purvis, beaming. “It’s wonderful to have the support of government, the city, tourism, locals and tourists. It makes it all worthwhile.”
DiCorpo says he and Purvis are avid boat enthusiasts who wanted to develop a business involving the waterway. He said the Chief Shingwauk was sorely missed adding that was clear from the outset of the project. “We could tell the loss of the Chief Shingwauk was probably the worst thing that could have
happened” DiCorpo said. “(The tour boat) coming back, everyone was so excited and jumped
on board, literally.”
Romano is a strong believer that one new development spurs another, noting that the NOHFC has invested more than $120 million in Sault Ste. Marie the past six years.