The steamer Ste. Claire represents the typical propeller-driven excursion steamer of the turn of the 20th century, a type once found in many parts of the country. Excursion steamers are steamships built primarily for passenger day trips. Ste. Claire and her running mate Columbia represent the "ocean-going" type of excursion vessel, although they were used on the Great Lakes.
The steamer Ste. Claire is significant as one of the two remaining classic excursion steamers in the country; as one of the two last essentially unaltered passenger ships designed by Frank E. Kirby; and for its essentially unaltered propulsion machinery of a type becoming increasingly rare. Ste. Claire and her running-mate Columbia are the last two steamers of their type with integrity left in the United States. The pair shared their original run from Detroit to Bob-Lo Island in the lower Detroit River for 81 years, a record of service on a single run unequalled in U. S. maritime history.