Chi-Cheemaun dinner cruises shaping up a delicious diversion

MANITOULIN—The Owen Sound Transportation Company (OSTC), operators of the Chi-Cheemaun ferry service, have lined up a great selection of musical talent to entertain the folks taking part in the ferry’s popular dinner cruises.

“We have five events planned so far,” said OSTC President Susan Schempf. The first event is coming up fast, with roots group Trent Severn set to take the ferry stage on Friday, June 12. “The entertainment is entirely Canadian, we are focussing on things Canadian and specifically Manitoulin.”

Trent Severn, a 2013 Canadian Folk Music Awards nominee, are a trio hailing from Stratford, Ontario comprised of indie songster Emm Gryner, the multi-talented Dayna Manning and violin whiz/songbird Laura C. Bates. “When listening to their self-titled 10-track debut album, the first influence that comes to mind is Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young,” reads the introduction on the group’s Facebook page. “There is no lead singer in Trent Severn,” continues the intro. “There are no doubled tracks, but there is a guitar or banjo (Manning), a bass and stomp box (Gryner), a fiddle and a shaker here and there. You can hear the watermarks of greats like Spirit of The West, Simon and Garfunkel, Tom Petty, Joni Mitchell, Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard. The sound of this band is Canadiana (in capital letters) based in folk, roots and old country.”

Another exciting group will be JUNO award nominees and musical dynamos Digging Roots, who will be appearing in August.

Also scheduled to appear will be the McKenzie Blues Band, winners of the 2014 Maple Blues Award for ‘Best New Group or Artist’ and two time semi-finalists at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. “The MacKenzie Blues Band have been enjoying the recognition of a hard working band as “blues rockers with style. They emit the energy of a small, joyful supernova, firmly rooted in blues traditions, the group writes their songs from their experiences and world view. The group consists of Tara MacKenzie on vocals, Trevor MacKenzie on guitar, Joel Dawson on bass and Mike Weir on drums.

Musical acts will range from country, roots and blues, with something for just about anybody. But music is the only great thing happening. On July 8 the ferry will be featuring “An Evening with Tom,” a tribute to Canadian art legend Tom Tomson.

Unfortunately for Island residents, the musical dinner offerings will be setting out and returning to the Tobermory side on the last trip of the day, so those wanting to take in the events will need to book an overnight in Tobermory.

“The dinner takes place on the way to South Baymouth, while the entertainment takes place on the way back,” said Ms. Scrempf. “We have to do it this way due to the other commitments of the artists we have booked.” The ferry is looking into partnerships that will enable the ferry to leverage those to offer the dinner cruises in the other direction. “We are looking into how we can do it,” said Ms. Schrempf. “But we think this will be a phenomenal experience.”

Those interested in learning more about the dinner cruises and other events on board the ferry are invited to call the ticket office at 1-800-265-3163 or to visit the ferry’s Facebook page for updates.