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MHS Resources: Northern Prairie Steamboats

This list of steamboats operated on rivers and lakes of Western Canada between the 1850s and the present:

Steamboat Name

Built

Gross
Tonnage

Notes

Fate

Alberta

1884

 

North Western Coal & Navigation Company

Abandoned at Medicine Hat, NWT, 1885

Alberta

1904

315

Rufus Mosher & Fred W. Coates, 1908 to Winnipeg Navigation Company

Caught in flood at Lockport, Manitoba, 1916

Alert

1905

 

Northern Fish Company

?

Alexandra

1903

 

Levi Bellefeuille, to Pioneer Navigation Company

Wrecked in electrical storm on Red River, 1907

Algoma

1909

 

Levi Bellefeuille, to Manitoba Sand & Dredging Company

?

Alice Mattes

1921

 

The Pas Lumber Company

Beached at The Pas, Manitoba, circa 1950

Alice Sprague

1886

 

Sprague Lumber Company

?

Alpha

1873

 

J. W. McLean, circa 1874 to Red River Transportation Company

Grounded at Spruce Woods, Manitoba, 1885

W. H. Alsop

1881

 

W. H. Alsop (of Bonanza Farms), 1882 to Red River Transportation Company

?

Amelia Mac

1910

?

Owned by Charles H. NcNaughton of the Arctic Ice Company from 1910 to 1938 then by Brown & Rutherford Company from 1938 onward. Named for Amelia Barbara McNaughton, daughter of its original owner.

Unknown [4]

Amish

 

32

 

 

Anson Northup

1858

 

Owner: Anson Northup, formerly North Star, Governor Ramsey

Reconstructed as Pioneer, 1859

Antelope

1887

 

Sprague Lumber Company

?

Armenon

1918

 

Armstrong Gimli Fish Company

Beached at Winnipegosis, Manitoba

Assiniboia

1903

 

H. H. Ross

Crushed by ice on Cedar Lake, Manitoba, 1906

Assiniboine

1890s

 

?

Dismantled at Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1900

Aurora

 

 

Hugh Black

 

Baroness

1883

 

North Western Coal & Navigation Company

Abandoned at Lethbridge, NWT, 1885

Battleford

1896

 

John Walter, 1896 to Village of Battleford

Abandoned at Battleford, Saskatchewan, circa 1907

Bonnitoba

1910

278

Hyland Navigation & Trading Company

Crushed by ice near Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1913

Bradbury

1915

 

Federal Government

On display at Selkirk Marine Museum

Carberry

 

64

Operating on Red River, 1919

 

Cheyenne

1873

 

Red River Transportation Company

Wrecked near Ste. Agathe, Manitoba, 1885

Chief Commissioner

1873

 

Built for the Hudson’s Bay Company at Lower Fort Garry 1871-72, launched 18 May 1872; in 1881, when the hull was found to be "much decayed and unsafe" she was converted to a 'storehouse' [1]

Hull converted to barge, 1875

Chieftain

1901

61

Dominion Fish Company, 1909 to Winnipeg Fish Company, 1910 to Northern Fish Company

Grounded on Red River sandbar, 1916

City of Edmonton

1909

 

John Walter

Abandoned at Edmonton, Alberta, circa 1918

City of Grand Forks

1895

 

W. J. Godfrey, to East Grand Forks Transportation Company

Sunk at Grand Forks, North Dakota, 1912

City of Medicine Hat

1906

 

H. H. Ross

Wrecked on Saskatoon bridge, 1908

City of Prince Albert

1907

 

Prince Albert Lumber Company, 1918 to Mandy Mines

?

City of Selkirk

1893

293

Ewing & Fryer, to Dominion Fish Company

Crushed by ice on Red River, 1914

City of Winnipeg

1881

 

Owned by Winnipeg & Western Transportation Company; formerly Minnesota

Wrecked in storm off Long Point on Lake Winnipeg, 1881

Colvile

1875

 

Owned by Hudson’s Bay Company; formerly Chief Commissioner; named for HBC Governor Eden Colvile (1819-1893).

Burned at Grand Rapids, NWT, 1894

Daisy

 

27

Operating on Red River, 1919

 

Daisy Bell

1898

 

James Wallwark

Abandoned at Dawson, NWT, 1899

Dakota

1872

 

Red River Transportation Company

Burned near international border, 1881

Dontianen

c1930

 

Tom Sukanen, 1942 to Victor Markkula, 1972 to Lawrence Mullin and the Moose Jaw Prairie Pioneer Village and Museum

Reconstructed at the Moose Jaw Prairie Pioneer Village and Museum

Emma E.

1908

 

Finger Lumber Company

Beached at The Pas, Manitoba

Evelyn B.

1922

 

H. Burrell

Refurbished as Rambler, circa 1925

Fisherman

1892

44

North West Navigation Company

Laid up at Selkirk, Manitoba, 1914

Frederick

1904

 

North West Navigation Company

Lost on Lake of the Woods, 1912

Friday (tugboat)

1911

60

Built by the Department of Public Works; Operating on Red River, 1919

 

Garry

 

120

Operating on Red River, 1919

 

George V

1911

 

City of Prince Albert, 1915 to F. E. Simmonds syndicate

Wrecked in ice at The Pas, Manitoba, 1918

Gertie H.

1900

 

J. S. Hall, to Pioneer Navigation Company. The boat was apparently named for Gertie Hall, daughter of its owner.

Abandoned, circa 1914

Glendevon

1882

 

Charles Gauthier

Burned at mouth of Little Saskatchewan River, 1891

Goldfield

c1914

94

Reid & Tait Fish Company, circa 1910 to Goldfield Mines, 1919 to Riverton Fish Company, 1921 to Gimli Fish Company, 1936 to Armstrong Gimli Fish Company, 1969 to Sigurdson Fish Company; formerly Minerva, Frank Burton

?

J. L. Grandin

1878

 

J. L. Grandin (of Bonanza Farms)

Sunk during flood at Halstad, Minnesota, 1897

Grand Rapids

1913

438

North West Navigation Company; formerly Mikado

Broken up at Selkirk, Manitoba, 1930s

W. J. Guest

1917

97

Northern Fish Company

?

Sir Hector (tugboat)

 

70

Department of Public Works; named for Sir Hector Louis Langevin (1826-1906).

 

Highlander

1900

59

Imperial Fish Company, to Northern Fish Company, to Hudson’s Bay Company

Dismantled at Norway House, Manitoba, 1916

Ida

1890s

 

Peter McArthur, then to McArthur’s Standard Lumber Company

?

Idell

1892

54

Owned by North West Navigation Company; operating on Red River

Broken up at Selkirk Manitoba, 1941

International

1862

 

J. C. & H. C. Burbank, transferred circa 1872 to Red River Transportation Company (Kittson Line); formerly Freighter

?

Iona

1899

 

Standard Lumber Company

?

Isabelle

1893

 

Peter McArthur, then to McArthur’s Standard Lumber Company; formerly Lady Blanche

Abandoned near Winnipegosis, Manitoba, 1904

Josie

1890

 

Richard Deacon

Abandoned on North Saskatchewan River, 1914

Keenora

1898

535

Rainy River Navigation Company, 1918 to three Winnipeg lawyers, 1923 to Northern Fish Company, 1931 to Selkirk Navigation Company, 1964 to Marine Transport Navigation Company, 1972 to Maritime Museum of Manitoba

Beached at the Maritime Museum of Manitoba, Selkirk, 1972

Keewatin

1876

 

F. T. Rollin

Wrecked in storm on Lake Winnipeg, 1884

Lady Blanche

1879

 

Reginald Pratt

Reconstructed as Isabelle, 1893

Lady Ellen

1877

 

E. McMicken, N. Blacklin & J. Colcleugh, 1880 to Brown & Rutherford, 1885 to D. Clark, 1887 to D. Fraser, 1887 to North West Navigation Company

Laid up at Selkirk, Manitoba, 1915

Lady of the Lake

1897

 

Stephen Sigurdson, 1898 to William Robinson, 1899 to Dominion Fish Company, 1901 to Northern Fish Company

Condemned at Selkirk, Manitoba, 1934

Lady of the Lake

1906

201

William Pearson Company; formerly Welcome

Rebuilt as Qu'Appelle, 1907

Lily

1877

 

Built for the Hudson’s Bay Company and launched at Grand Rapids in 1877, transferred in 1883 to the Winnipeg & Western Transportation Company

Sunk at Drowning Ford, NWT [about 40 miles below Medicine Hat], 1883

Lisgar

 

26

 

 

B. J. Little

1898

 

B. J. Little

?

Lottie S.

1900

 

North West Fish Company

?

Maggie

1873

 

James Bell, to F. T. Rollin

Converted to barge at Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1878

Majestic

 

64

Operating on Red River, 1919

 

Manitoba

1875

 

Merchants International Steamboat Line, 1875 to Red River Transportation Company, circa 1881 to Winnipeg & Western Transportation Company

Crushed by ice at Shell River, NWT, 1885

Manitou

1900

 

Booth Fish Company

Beached on Lake Winnipegosis

Marion

1907

 

Richard Deacon

Abandoned on North Saskatchewan River, 1914

Marquette

1879

 

North West Navigation Company

Wrecked on Red River, 1888

Marquis

1882

 

Winnipeg & Western Transportation Company

Beached at Prince Albert, NWT 1890, burned circa 1909

Marvyl

 

225

 

 

Mary Ann Roe

bef 1881

 

Owned by Roe and D. B. McDonald of Portage la Prairie [3]

?

May Queen

1884

 

E. S. Andrews

Scrapped at Saskatoon, NWT, 1885

McKillop-Benjafield

1903

 

McKillop & Benjafield

Abandoned on Last Mountain Lake

Midnight Sun

1905

 

Northern Transportation Company

?

Mikado

1905

242

William Purvis, to Northern Fish Company

Rebuilt as Grand Rapids, 1913

Miles

 

 

Hugh Black

 

Minnesota

1875

 

Merchants International Steamboat Line, 1875 to Red River Transportation Company

Refurbished as City of Winnipeg, 1881

Minnow

1884

 

North Western Coal & Navigation Company, 1887 to Lamoureux Brothers, 1898 to Percy C. Cunliffe

Abandoned on North Saskatchewan River, circa 1900

Mockingbird

1899

 

North West Fish Company

Swamped on Lake Winnipegosis, 1901

Mount Cashel

1910

 

Hyland Navigation Company

Burned near Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1914

Myles

1889

 

North West Navigation Company

Lost on Lake Winnipeg, circa 1900

Nipawin

1917

 

Ross Navigation Company

Beached at The Pas, Manitoba, 1930s

Northcote

1874

 

Hudson’s Bay Company, 1883 to Winnipeg & Western Transportation Company

Beached at Cumberland House, NWT, 1886, burned circa 1903

Northern Light

1906

 

Northern Transportation Company

?

Northland Echo

1910

 

Northern Transportation Company

?

Northland Sun

1907

 

Charles Barber, to Northern Transportation Company

?

Northland Trader

1906

 

Northern Transportation Company

?

North West

1881

 

North West Navigation Company, 1884 to Winnipeg & Western Transportation Company

Wrecked in flood at Edmonton, NWT, 1899

Notin

1914

 

Ross Navigation Company

Beached at The Pas, Manitoba, 1920s

Odinak

1916

 

Armstrong Gimli Fish Company

Beached at Winnipegosis, Manitoba

Ogema

1885

 

Reid & Tait Fish Company, to North West Navigation Company

?

O'Hell

1910

 

Ross Navigation Company

Beached at The Pas, Manitoba, 1920s

Osprey

1890s

 

Booth Fish Company

?

Le Pas

1910

 

H. H. Ross, then to Ross Navigation Company

Beached at The Pas, Manitoba, 1920s

Pathfinder

1903

 

Richard Deacon

Abandoned on North Saskatchewan River, 1914

Petrel

1898

 

C. W. Maloan

Dismantled, 1910

Pioneer

1859

 

Owned by Anson Northup; formerly called Anson Northup

Crushed by ice at Cook’s Creek off Red River, 1862

Pluck

c1880

 

Bonanza Farms, 1882 to Red River Transportation Company; formerly White Swan

Dismantled at Grand Forks, Dakota Territory, 1886

Premier

1896

 

Reid & Tait Fish Company, to Dominion Fish Company

Burned at Warren’s Landing on Lake Winnipeg, 1908

Prince Rupert

1872

 

Peter McArthur, then part of the North West Navigation Company

Dismantled at Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1881

Princess

1880-1881

 

Launched 2 August 1881; owned by William Robinson, then part of North West Transportation Company

Sunk in storm off Swampy Island on Lake Winnipeg, 1906

Qu'Appelle

1907

 

William Pearson Company; formerly called Lady of the Lake

Torched at Cowan’s Beach on Last Mountain Lake, 1918

Rambler

c1925

 

C. Patterson; formerly called Evelyn B.

Beached in storm at Coffey’s Point on Lake Winnipegosis, 1930

Red River

1883

 

North West Navigation Company

Sunk in storm on Lake Winnipeg, 1899

Rocket

1899

56

J. W. Simpson, 1906 to North West Navigation Company

Broken up at Selkirk, Manitoba, 1933

Rosamond Billet

 

679

Operated by Hugh Sutherland

 

Roughsedge- Ramsay

1905

 

Roughsedge & Ramsay

Shut down on North Saskatchewan River, 1909

Ruby

1910

 

Federal Department of Public Works

?

Sam Brisbin

1908

 

H. H. Ross, then to Ross Navigation Company

Sunk at The Pas, Manitoba, 1920s

Saskatchewan

1883

 

Peter McArthur

Burned at The Narrows, Lake Manitoba, 1893

Saskatchewan

1903

 

Hudson’s Bay Company

Dismantled at The Pas, Manitoba, 1913

Scona

1907

 

John Walter; formerly called Strathcona

Abandoned at Edmonton, Alberta, circa 1918

Selkirk

1871

 

Hill, Griggs & Company, circa 1872 to Red River Transportation Company

Wrecked at Grand Forks, Dakota Territory, 1884

Slave River

1912

 

Hudson’s Bay Company

?

C. R. Smith

1912

 

Finger Lumber Company

Beached at The Pas, Manitoba

J. M. Smith

1907

179

William Hall

?

Sparkle

1922

 

Booth Fish Company

?

J. R. Spears

 

71

Operating on Red River, 1919

 

Spray

 

18

 

 

Strathcona

1904

 

John Walter

Rebuilt as Scona, 1907

Sultana

1889

 

North West Navigation Company

Abandoned at Fort Alexaner Mills, 1911

Swallow

1868

 

Minnesota shippers; 1875 to James Flannigan

Caught in Red River ice, 1879

Tempest

1900

75

Built by William Purvis Sr. for the Northern Fish Company, it towed sailboats to fishing grounds on Lake Winnipeg.

Beached in 1925, it was broken up at Selkirk in 1927

Tobin

1921

 

Ross Navigation Company

Beached at The Pas, Manitoba, 1930s

Vaughan

 

 

Operating on Red River in 1919, gross tonnage 134 (LAC records)

 

Victor

 

26

Operating on Red River, 1919

 

Victoria

1878

 

?

?

Welcome

1905

 

William Pearson Company

Rebuilt as Lady of the Lake, 1906

William Robinson

c1880

 

William Robinson

Grounded on Lake Winnipeg, 1882

Winnipeg (dredge)

 

245

Operated by Department of Public Works

 

Winnitoba

1909

883

Hyland Navigation & Trading Company

Burned at Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1912

D. N. Winton

1920

 

The Pas Lumber Company

Beached at The Pas, Manitoba, 1934, wrecked by ice, circa 1950

Wolverine

1903

278

Imperial Fish Company, 1904 to Northern Fish Company

Dismantled, 1936

See also:

On Board the Steamer “Northwest,” Saskatchewan River
Manitoba History, Number 17, Spring 1989

My Father’s Steamboats by Mary Agnes Medd
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 17, Number 1, Autumn 1971

Steamboats to the Rescue, 1897 by Molly McFadden
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 6, Number 3, April 1961

The First of Many by Molly McFadden
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 4, Number 3, April 1959

A History of Transportation in Winnipeg by Walter E. Bradley
MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1958-59 Season

A “Princess” is Launched by Molly McFadden
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 4, Number 1, September 1958

Steamboat Holiday by Molly McFadden
Manitoba Pageant, April 1957

Steamboating on the Red by Molly McFadden
MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1950-51 Season

Molly McFadden Basken (1897-1970)
Historian.

Hugh Black (1846-1918)
Steamboat operator.

Norman Wolfred Kittson (1814-1888)
Steamboat operator.

William Robinson (1850-?)
Steamboat operator.

Sources:

1. Theodore Berris, Fire Canoe (McClelland & Stewart, 1977, ISBN 0-7710-1025-7).

2. The Letters of Charles John Brydges, 1879-1882. The Hudson's Bay Record Society, Winnipeg, 1977, page 112.

3. Winnipeg Times, 24 September 1881, page 1.

4. Nathan Kramer, personal communication, 13 April 2014.

We thank Ken Howard for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 22 October 2014

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