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Northern Prairie Steamboats: Aurora

Built at Icelandic River [now Riverton] in 1885, the Aurora measured 121 feet stem to stern, had a beam 19.2 feet, draught of 8.4 feet, and weighed 102 gross tons. This wood hull vessel was used as a tow barge and featured a net tonnage of 102. By 1886, it was owned by a partnership of Jonasson, Frederickson, & Walkey (JF&W) and leased to Clark & Co for use as a fish freezer for the winter season.

In 1888, the Aurora was acquired by the Lake Winnipeg Transportation Lumber and Trading Company and fitted with a 200-horsepower steam engine featuring 17 inch by 5.5 feet stroke. Further significant modifications may have been undertaken as her gross tonnage was later cited at 225, more than double the original specification. At this point, she was also converted from a barge into a sternwheeler [or sidewheeler, sources differ] and also saw use as a passenger vessel with a listed capacity of 80 persons. Based out of Selkirk, round trip excursions were made to destinations around Lake Winnipeg, with one such trip in July 1890 carried Lieutentant Governor John Christian Schultz and his entourage.

The Aurora also saw continued use in a commercial and freighter role, making regular voyages to Bad Throat and Fort Alexander where Captain Jonasson of JF&W had sawmill operations, along with other lakeside settlments and camps. The ship’s Master for the 1888-1890 seasons was Captain Jonas Bergman who, a year later (1891), filed a claim against LWTLTC in court citing unpaid salary totalling over $500. The matter was heard before Justice Burbidge in Winnipeg.

At some point in the years that followed, it was owned by Hugh Black. In 1897, its Master was Captain Baldie Anderson when it became a crime scene, with the Master’s stabbing at the hands the ship’s Engineer, Mr. McNabb. Ownership passed to Reverend J. B. Maul (1898). By 1900, the Aurora was held in Selkirk by the partnership of Crotty & Cross, where it remained while renters or buyers were sought. In 1901, it was acquired by William Dewar of Selkirk. Its whereabouts after 1901 are unknown.

Owners

Period

Owner

1885-1888

Jonasson, Frederickson, & Walkey

1888-1890

Lake Winnipeg Transportation Lumber and Trading Company

1890-1897

?

1898

Reverend J. B. Maul

1900

Crotty & Cross

1901

William Dewar

?

Hugh Black

Sources:

“[The barge Aurora ...],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 4 September 1886, page 5.

“Steamer “Aurora”,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 24 May 1890, page 8.

“The King of Keewatin,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 12 July 1890, page 8.

“Excursions over Lake Winnipeg,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 16 July 1890, page 7.

“Lake Winnipeg,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 22 July 1890 page 8.

“The reportorial round [The steamer Aurora ... & Capt. Bergman ...],” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 30 September 1890, page 4.

“Liquidator’s sale,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 19 October 1891, page 5.

“Bergman’s claim,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 28 April 1892, page 6.

“Stabbing affray,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 8 July 1897, page 1.

“Selkirk stabbing,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 9 July 1897, page 3.

“Attempted suicide,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 5 June 1899, page 1.

“Articles for sale [For sale or rent - Steamer Aurora],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 25 May 1900, page 7.

“Articles for sale [For sale or rent - Steamer Aurora],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 3 July 1900, page 3.

“Reportorial round [Two men, whose names are Houtin and Skinner ...],” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 22 June 1901, page 12.

Aurora (I), The Nauticapedia Project.

Ship Registrations 1787-1966, Aurora, Library and Archives Canada.

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

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 3 December 2020

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