Northern Prairie Ships: Sultana

Laid down at Selkirk in 1889 by Captain John Andrew Howell and Daniel “Dan” Daly, the Sultana measured 142.3 feet stem to stern, 22.7 feet in beam, 8.8 feet in draught, and displaced both 358 gross and net tons. It began as a wood hull tow barge commissioned by the Northwest Navigation Company. In 1891, she was rebuilt into a screw propulsion steamer, with its gross tonnage remaining static and its net tonnage was reduced to 243. Accommodation within was had for passengers and the steamer also saw regular use as a tugboat and freighter.

Early into the 1890s, it operated in service of the Selkirk Fish Company and was under the command of Captain Howell (1894-1895), while also used for the fishing company of Reid & Tait. In June 1901, a gale on Lake Winnipeg drove her ashore at the mouth of the Saskatchewan River. By the summer of 1902, the Sultana had been brought back to Selkirk where its machinery and upper decks were removed in the process to re-converted her back to a barge. The vessel's Registry was closed in February 1908, with its purported final location being at the Fort Alexander Mills (1911).

Sultana, labelled as "Refrigerator Barge - fishing industry of Winnipeg"

Sultana, labelled as “Refrigerator Barge - fishing industry of Winnipeg” (1890)
Source: Library and Archives Canada, Item 3392845, Box 2093


1891 Canada census, Library and Archives Canada.

“City and country [The first boat to come out of the winter quarters ...],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 3 May 1890, page 8.

“Capsized on the lake,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 19 June 1891, page 2.

“No shortage of fish,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 18 July 1891, page 6.

“A big whitefish,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 23 June 1893, page 12.

“Lots of fish,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 18 June 1894, page 1.

“From north Lake Winnipeg,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 19 June 1894, page 2.

“From the lake,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 10 May 1895, page 1.

“Lake Winnipeg fisheries,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 11 June 1895, page 8.

“Local events [The Sultana came in on Friday ...],,” Selkirk Record and Canadian Fishing Gazette, 13 August 1897, page 1.

“Selkirk steamships,” Manitoba Morning Free Press, 25 May 1900, page 7.

“Selkirk obsequies,” Manitoba Morning Free Press, 15 July 1902, page 7.

Sessional Papers of the Dominion of Canada, Volume 9 - Fourth Session - Eight Parliament - 1899, Canadiana.

The New Mills’ List - Registered Canadian Steamships 1817-1930 over 75 feet, Sultana (Official Number 92695), Queen’s University.

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

Sultana (1), The Nauticapedia Project.

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

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 4 January 2024