Saskatchewan, Canada Pioneer Steamships Navigation of the Saskatchewan

Navigation on the Saskatchewan


The fact that steamboats have plied regularly from Manitoba to
Edmonton, and have even reached Medicine Hat will come as a surprise
to many. In the eighties it was not contemplated that the Saskatchewan
would ever cease to be a navigated river. Forty years ago there were
two steamboat companies in Winnipeg handling the interior shipping of
the North-West. Each had its own boats and did not interfere with each
other's trade. The North West Navigation Co., had four steamers of
which the Princess was the leader with a tonnage of about 300 tons. She
was a side-wheeler. The Marquette was a light draught stern-wheeler.
The Colville was a freighter and the Glendevon a tug of eighty tons. She
was used almost entirely for towing logs to the mills at Selkirk.
The main province of this company was Lake Winnipeg. The Winnipeg and
Western Company's steamers plied on the Saskatchewan between Lake
Winnipeg (or Grand Rapids), and Edmonton. This company had three
steamers. From Grand Rapids near the mouth of the river to Edmonton
is about 1,200 miles, and it took a steamer about a month to make the
round trip. The steamers were three in number, the famous Northcote,
the Marquis and North West. Most of the freight handled by both com-
panies was Hudson's Bay Company's merchandise. The North West
Company laid down freight at Norway House for the posts in that dis-
trict. Vast quantities were taken up the Saskatchewan by the other
company for the posts along the river, up to Edmonton at which latter
point it was distributed to the northern stations. There was also gen-
eral merchandise for the river towns. The excitement was great, when
the steamboats arrived. It was a great event.

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