Northern Prairie Steamboats: Ogema
Laid down in Winnipeg during the summer of 1881, the Ogema measured 83.6 feet stem to stern, 15.9 feet in beam, and displaced 52 gross tons (9 net tons). The wood hull freight steamer was commissioned by Edward Worrell Jarvis and George Berridge (operating as Jarvis & Berridge) and first launched on 29 August 1881 before a crowd of locals, though work still remained with mounting internal machinery. By October, with Captain Jackson at the helm, she was officially under her own steam on 25 October and held a cargo-hauling contract for the lumber firm of Dick & Banning.
The Ogema’s sophomore season began with a significant overhaul and a new Master, Captain R. R. McDonald. Improvements made that March and April included replacing the 4.5 feet propellor wheel to one of 5 feet, extending the ships cabin all the way aft to the rudder to provide more space for a galley, captain’s quarters, a purser’s office, as well as passenger accommodation. To improved barge-towing capabilities, the aft towing line mounts were removed and replaced with a larger single mount amidship. Additionally, a new capstan and an improved screw were fitted. The vessel further received a fresh coat of paint in time for the seasons launch. The refit reportedly deepened its draught to around 6.5 feet. A tow barge was also purchased that spring. Still owned by Jarvis & Berridge, she was contracted to Red River & Lake Winnipeg Navigation Company for excursionist outings between Winnipeg and Selkirk betwixt maintaining timber and freight obligations for various camps and mill sites around Lake Winnipeg. The seasons end saw the Ogema and Cheyenne, at the time both operated by Jarvis & Berridge, pulled up near the mouth of the Assiniboine River by Warehouse No. 4.
In 1885, Ogema was re-registered to the Reid & Tait Fish Company with work done at Selkirk to convert her to a tow barge. Its displacement was 62 gross tons and 42 net tons. With the removal of some equipment, its draught was improved to 5.4 feet. By the following year, Ogema had been acquired by the Northwest Navigation Company of which William Robinson was a charter partner (later President). Late 1887 saw the ship headed for Saskatchewan and its barge used as a fish freezer. Accounts of its usage as a barge continue into the latter 1890s, and Robinson took ownership in 1898. While its exact fate is unknown, its Registry was closed in February 1900. In 1901, the name was re-used when Robinson launched the Ogema.
“Urban and suburban [Messrs. Jarvis & Berridge ...],” Winnipeg Daily Sun, 26 August 1881, page 5.
“Urban and suburban [Jarvis & Berridge’s ...],” Winnipeg Daily Sun, 30 August 1881, page 5.
“The new steamer Ogema,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 27 October 1881, page 1.
“Shipping interests,” Winnipeg Daily Sun, 5 April 1882, page 7.
“The navigation room,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 6 April 1882, page 8.
“Red River and Lake Winnipeg Navigation Company,” Winnipeg Daily Sun, 12 April 1882, page 2.
“Red River and Lake Winnipeg Navigation Co.,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 19 April 1882, page 4.
“City and provincial [Capt. R. R. McDonald],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 27 April 1882, page 8.
“Red River & Lake Winnipeg Navigation Co.,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 6 May 1882, page 5.
“City council [Board of Works],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 20 June 1882, page 8.
“City and provincial [The Regatta],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 29 June 1882, page 8.
“City and provincial [The Ogema ...],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 26 August 1882, page 8.
“City and province [The Steamer Cheyenne ...],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 31 October 1882, page 8.
“City and province [The Cheyenne and the Ogema ...],” Winnipeg Daily Sun, 8 November 1882, page 8.
“Local matters [Jarvis & Berridge’s steamers ...],” Winnipeg Daily Sun, 8 November 1882, page 8.
“World of sport [aquatics],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 15 June 1883, page 8.
“Little links [Mr. Jas. Drake ...],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 25 May 1886, page 3.
“City and province [Rev. A. W. Ross ...],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 21 August 1886, page 4.
“Forest fires,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 4 September 1886, page 3.
“City and country [Mr. Angus McKay ...],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 2 July 1887, page 4.
“Selkirk,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 15 September 1887, page 4.
“Selkirk [Accident to a steamer],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 4 October 1887, page 1.
“The reportorial round [All the steamers ...],” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 6 May 1890, page 4.
“Watts reaches Winnipeg,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 25 September 1890, page 4.
“Selkirk shipping,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 1 June 1896, page 6.
“Local events [The last of the lumber ...],” Selkirk Record and Canadian Fishing Gazette, 13 August 1897, page 1.
“Twenty years ago [30 August 1881],” Manitoba Morning Free Press, 30 August 1901, page 4.
“Twenty years ago today [Lake Winnipeg boats ...],” Winnipeg Telegram, 21 June 1907, page 6.
Ship Registrations 1787-1966, Ogema, Library and Archives Canada.
Ogema, The Nauticapedia Project.
We thank John MacFarlane (Nauticapedia) for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 22 May 2021