"Queen of The Northumberland Strait"
— Prince Edward Island Service —
Builder: Marine Industries Limited, Sorel, Quebec, Canada
Launched on June 28, 1947
Hull Number: 144
Length: 372.6 ft.
Width: 62 ft.
Gross Tons: 7,600
Service: Operated by Canadian National Railway for service from Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick to Borden, Prince Edward Island, August 14, 1947 until March 2, 1983
Compliment: 65 crew, One complete passenger train, 60 autos and 960 passengers.
Ship's name: Pronounced (a-beg-wit), meaning "Cradled on The Waves".
Miles Steamed: 1,145,585
On a warm spring day in June 1947, Mrs. J. Walter, wife of the Premier of Prince Albert Island, swung the traditional bottle of Champagne to christen this ship and fulfill a dream for the people of Prince Edward Island, Canada. Year-round service was now possible from Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick on the mainland. Ice in the Northumberland Strait can be 18 feet thick or more. A ship of this magnitude was needed for continued support of the islanders. The Abegweit was constructed as the world's largest icebreaker with a hull an inch and one quarter thick, identical to the "Queen Elizabeth" of the Cunard Line. Her interiors of walnut, mahogany, and oak paneling with solid brass fixtures are reminiscent of that great age of trans Atlantic passenger service. The name "Queen of the Northumberland Strait" comes from these similarities. Her sixteen diesel electric engines delivered 15,400-horse power to her massive, 13-foot nickel-plated propellers.
On January 9, 1963, at 2:16 am, the Aberwit was called for her most famous rescue. Sixteen year old Kenneth Blacquiere was trapped and lost on the ice in the Strait. With her carbon arc search lights blazing, the boy was found mid-channel on his way into the North Atlantic. Captain Kean maneuvered the 7,600 ton Abegweit to the boy's feet without mishap, forever endearing her to the Islanders.
On March 2, 1983, Columbia Yacht Club took posession [sic] of the Abegweit from Canada National Railways. A volunteer crew from the railway and Columbia members sailed the "Little Queen" the 2,000 miles to her new home at the foot of Randolph Street.Today, Abegweit has become an international star with true historical links to the people of Prince Edward Island and all of Canada. A portion of the history of Canada and Chicago are brought together here for everyone to admire and remember.