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Northern Prairie Steamboats: Alexandra

Built in 1902, the Alexandra was launched into the Red River near the Louise Bridge. Its maiden excursion was on 14 August 1902, carrying a group of IOOF members from Winnipeg to Selkirk. The vessel, with a capacity for 500 people, was operated under the charge of Captain Levi Bellefeuille. Early passenger excursions departed from the waterfront area of Lombard Street. It also saw service as a lumber freighter. Within a few years, the vessel was bought by the Pioneer Navigation and Sand Company, then refitted and modified for use as a sand dredger.

On 20 September 1906, the vessel was pushed by strong winds into a nearby sand barge that it had just finished loading. The resulting collision tore a large hole in her port side and a start that was quickly extinguished by the influx of water. The flooding caused the hull to list heavily. The crew—consisting of cook S. Lincott, engineer George Long, fireman Archibald Hood, William Stonehouse, George Hawkes, and Captain Edward Cannell—managed to escape safely and they were able to save the steamer by lashing it to the barge with which it had collided. Further assistance was provided by the crew of the J. M. Smith which had been preparing to tow away the filled barge. The Alexandra was then fitted with skids and dragged on shore so the damage could be assessed. (This was the first notable accident with the vessel, aside from a minor incident in July 1904 where its mast clipped the Canadian Pacific Railway Main Line Bridge.) The ship was repaired and returned to service.

The Alexandra was sold around 1909. On the evening of 24 March 1910, while moored in the Red River several hundred yards upstream of the Norwood Docks, she was crippled by ice moving down the river. There was dramatic structural damage but the actual loss was minimal because the ship was in the process of being dismantled. With its dredging and steam equipment removed, the hull was converted into a barge. Its fate after this time is unknown.


Postcard of the steamboat Alexandra at St. Norbert (September 1907)
Rob McInnes, WP0448


“Reportorial round [Alexandra],” Winnipeg Tribune, 7 August 1902, page 8.

“Steamer “Alexandra”,” Winnipeg Tribune, 21 August 1902, page 3.

“Red River is low,” Winnipeg Tribune, 3 September 1903, page 3.

“Hit the bridge,” Winnipeg Tribune, 19 July 1904, page 3.

“Rips hold in her port side,” Winnipeg Tribune, 21 September 1906, page 7.

“Selling Houses.” Winnipeg Tribune, 12 March 1907, page 1.

“Norwood School had to close,” Winnipeg Tribune, 26 April 1907, page 11.

“Steamers to be sold,” Winnipeg Tribune, 28 May 1909, page 11.

“Templars elect officers,” Winnipeg Tribune, 11 June 1909, page 3.

“The Army and Navy Veterans excursion to St. Andrew’s Rapids,” Winnipeg Tribune, 20 August 1909, page 5.

“Red River is rising very rapidly,” Winnipeg Tribune, 26 March 1910, page 1.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough and Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 7 June 2015

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