THUNDER BAY – Life is full of choices. In Thunder Bay news that the S.S. Keewatin is headed to Port McNichol has many people upset at the lost opportunity to our community. That decision was a result of choices. Instead of having a real piece of Canadian history, the choice was made to have the “Twin Sticks” an almost one million dollar piece of artwork that will flash Morse code out to those who stand and watch.
The choice to have the water droplets, a $25,000 decision is another example of the decision making process that our community’s leaders made.
We will have these pieces of artwork sitting at the Marina Park, hopefully enticing tourists. We could have chosen to invest those dollars in purchasing the Keewatin. Of course it would have taken additional funds to bring the S.S. Keewatin back to her full grandeur, but that would have allowed craftsmen and workers, and additional employment.
Public artwork of course is all fine and dandy, and I am sure those on City Council who were behind those purchase decisions will love the “Twin Sticks”. However it is a testament to their vision, that instead of opting to honour the role of maritime shipping in Port Arthur, Fort William and Thunder Bay, they chose instead to spend money on art from outside our community.
The S.S. Keewatin was a luxurious ship for its time. The ship boasted running water and electric lights. The ship had 105 staterooms on two decks. Seven deluxe suites had private baths. The dining room had gold leaf around the ceiling as did most of the public areas. In the Men’s Lounge there are hand-carved oak paneling. The ballroom served many purposes other then being a dance area.
If one considers that Thunder Bay has invested, in our waterfront project the money to bring in cruise ships to our city, one might wonder why we could not have seen at the project development level the importance of having a historic cruise ship that used to travel between Fort William and Port McNicoll on a permanent berth here in our city.
The ship, built in 1907, could likely with a little extra restoration could have come alive in our city. Its grand ballroom could have served as a place for people in our community to celebrate special events. Imagine hosting a wedding reception on-board. The staterooms could even have served as luxury hotel rooms. An on-board restaurant could have served as an anchor for tourism.
Alas however, instead of the possibilities, we are left with two metal sticks, the “Twin Sticks”.
Perhaps they will serve as a long standing reminder that better decisions can be made? Ask yourself, which choice might you have made?
When it comes to having the potential to have a return on the investment, do you think tourists from around the world will flock to Thunder Bay to see the “Twin Sticks” or do you think they might have come here to tour on-board the SS Keewatin?
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