The sound of an old engine starting could be heard across Port McNicoll on Thursday.

The S.S. Keewatin engines came to life for the first time in almost half a century. But reviving the legendary ship that sailed Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes wasn’t easy – it took more than a year to complete.

“The engine had been laid up by the last certified engineer with heavy protective grease – which did a beautiful job protecting her,” said engineer John Vincent.

And what surprised those aboard her aboard about the re-firing of the engines? “It’s much quieter than I expected, I thought it would be much noisier,” said one person.

John Ray and his family are from Boston, MA and have toured many ships, but not like this one.

“I’ve certainly never had the opportunity to walk through the engine compartment of a huge ship like this – this is awesome.”

An honour that isn’t lost on the ships engineers.

“To actually be able to see its parts move, even if it’s less than one revolution per minute, is really enough to make it come to life for you,” says Carl Snip.

Tours of the 106-year-old steamship run daily.