Detroit’s iconic Boblo Boats have made their film debut. The two sister steamboats, the Ste. Claire and the SS Columbia, the oldest in America, are center stage for a new Aaron Schillinger directed documentary, “Boblo Boats: A Detroit Ferry Tale.” 

Taking viewers back to the wonderland of the Boblo Island Amusement Park between Detroit and Canada, and the Boblo Boat ferry rides that brought people there, the film also explores the current restoration efforts of the two steamships after nearly 85 years of operation and sitting unused since 1993. Motown legend Martha Reeves narrates the film.

Boblo Boats

The Ste. Marie steamboat, one of the Boblo Boats that used to transport passengers to the Boblo Island Amusement Park, sits docked in the Detroit river. | Photo by One Detroit

Director Aaron Schillinger talked more about the film’s release and the story it tells. One Detroit contributor Daijah Moss has more on the history that can be learned from the documentary, including the civil rights story of Detroit’s Sarah Elizabeth Ray, the efforts it took to produce the documentary over the span of seven years, and the adoration former Boblo boat riders shared with Schillinger through the filming process. 

Watch the documentary in theaters on Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Michigan Theater, or stream it online on-demand now.  

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