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Manitoulin ferry season draws to close after ‘stellar’ season

The Chi-Cheemaun will sail its last 2023 trip on October 16
The Chi-Cheemaun ferry is set to make the last trip of the 2023 season on October 16.

The Chi-Cheemaun ferry will return to its winter harbour on October 16, following a “stellar” sailing season, according to the Owen Sound Transportation Company (OSTC).

So far in 2023, the ferry has carried more than 137,000 passengers and 50,000 vehicles between South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island and Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula.

By comparison, in 2022, the Chi-Cheemaun had carried 154,312 passengers and 57,320 vehicles, for the period ending October 13.

That marked an increase of 31 per cent more passengers and 21 per cent more vehicles over the same period in the 2021 season. Last year was also the first year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that the ferry was running at full capacity.

On October 16, the Chi-Cheemaun will depart Tobermory for its “repositioning cruise” at 11 a.m. and is expected to arrive in Owen Sound at 4 p.m. The sailing, which is for walk-on traffic only, is expected to have 450 passengers.

During the trip, the OSTC will be raising funds to support the Georgian Riding Association for Challenged Equestrians (GRACE), a non-profit organization that provides therapeutic horseback riding lessons for challenged children and adults in Grey and Bruce counties.

Launched in 1974, the Chi-Cheemaun provides passage across Lake Huron for passengers and vehicles, serving both commercial and leisure travellers.

It’s also become a popular tourist attraction in itself, offering on-board activities including live entertainment, cultural and interpretive sessions, sunset cruises, an art gallery, and a gift shop.

The Chi-Cheemaun is owned and operated by the OSTC, which is an agency of the Government of Ontario.