Manitoba Historical Society
     Keeping history alive for over 143 years


Northern Prairie Steamboats: Alice Sprague

Laid down and completed at Selkirk in 1886, the Alice Sprague was a steam-powered wooden paddleship commissioned by Daniel Emes Sprague of the Sprague Lumber Company and constructed by Mr. Kirkpatrick [Kilpatrick]. Limited information suggests that she was a two-masted side-wheeler. The vessel bore the married name of Sprague’s wife, Alice Wilhelmina Hawkins Sprague.

By July 1886, the Alice Sprague was traversing the Red River from its mooring at the foot of Lombard Street up to Fraser’s Grove in adjoining Municipality of Kildonan, with a reported passenger capacity between 300 and 400. That fall, further significant alterations were undertaken in St. Andrews, and she was launched again in early September. The Alice Sprague was officially registered the following year (1887) as having 98 gross tons and 62 net tons and, following yet another remodeling, was re-launched on 5 May 1887.

The steamship carried excursionists from Winnipeg to destinations downstream, including Selkirk and into Lake Winnipeg, when water levels remained sufficient. In 1888, a mid-June advertisement claims the steamer, under the charter of the Winnipeg & Western Transportation Company, was to serve as a passenger and freight express for a round trip of the Saskatchewan River from Winnipeg to Edmonton (Alberta) via the Saskatchewan River, with ports of call along the way to include Prince Albert and Battleford. Whether or not the voyage ever took place remains in doubt.

Beyond regular excursion trips, the Alice Sprague saw routine use as a freighter, hauling logs and lumber for the Sprague Lumber Company. She was reportedly wrecked, though details surrouding this fate have not been found. In December 1896, she was stricken from the federal registry.

Sources:

“City and province [The Grace Church Sunday School ...],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 19 July 1886, page 8.

“City and province [The Grace Church Sunday School ...],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 20 July 1886, page 8.

“Man. and N.W.T [St. Andrew’s, Sept 3 ...],” Northwest Review, 11 September 1886, page 8.

“City and province [The catamaran],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 6 May 1887, page 4.

“City and province [The steamer Alice Sprague],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 17 May 1887, page 4.

“St Boniface and Winnipeg notes [The Alice Sprague ...],” Northwest Review, 18 May 1887, page 4.

“City and province [The Alice Sprague ...],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 18 May 1887, page 4.

“City and province [Mr. Kirkpatrick, of Selkirk ...],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 18 May 1887, page 4.

“Amusements - Queen’s birthday,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 23 May 1887, page 4.

“Jottings [The Winnipeg Rowing Club ...],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 30 June 1887, page 4.

“Excursion to Selkirk,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 2 July 1887, page 4.

“City and country [The citizens of Winnipeg ...],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 8 July 1887, page 4.

“City and country [The annual picnic of St. George's Church ...],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 8 July 1887, page 4.

“Excursion [The Steamer “Alice Sprague”],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 25 July 1887, page 4.

“Ho! for Harper’s Grove,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 6 September 1887, page 4.

“The Winnipeg Western Transportation Co. Limited,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 15 June 1888, page 4.

“City and country [Passengers and express going west ...],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 15 June 1888, page 4.

“City and country [A safe picnic],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 20 June 1888, page 4.

“City and country [Mr. W. F. Alloway ...],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 28 June 1888, page 4.

“Treaty money,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 9 July 1888, page 1.

“Saturday excursion,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 14 July 1888, page 4.

“The Catholic Mutual Benefit Association,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 16 July 1888, page 4.

“Grocers’ and butchers’ picnic,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 17 July 1888, page 4.

“City and country [The Alice Sprague ...],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 30 July 1888, page 4.

“Winnipeg 20 years ago [The printers’ picnic],” Winnipeg Tribune, 7 August 1907, page 10.

Ship Registrations 1787-1966, Alice Sprague, Library and Archives Canada.

Alice Sprague, The Nauticapedia Project.

We thank John MacFarlane (Nauticapedia) for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 3 December 2020

MHS YouTube Channel

Back to top of page

For queries on the above page, please contact the MHS Webmaster.

Home  |  Terms & Conditions  |  FAQ  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy  |  Donations

© 1998-2022 Manitoba Historical Society. All rights reserved.