The Marine Museum of Manitoba was established in 1972 and is home to a collection of ship and marine artifacts. Six ships can be boarded here, including the S.S. Keenora and the C.G.S. Bradbury. All of the ships have interesting histories but not all started their journeys in Selkirk.
The S.S. Keenora was built in the United States in 1897 and was a passenger and freighter on Lake of the Woods. It is now Manitoba’s oldest existing steam ship. During her time on Lake of the Woods she would transport passengers from Keenora to Fort Frances.
About 1910, the S.S. Keenora was bought by some entrepreneurs from Winnipeg where, for a while, they used it as a floating dancing hall. Then it was sent to Selkirk’s shipyard where it was cut in two and a huge new piece was inserted. New cabins and more powerful engines were installed. Her overall length was increased to 158 feet and her speed was upgraded to 15 knots.
For almost 50 years, the Keenora transported passengers and cargo to ports along the shores of Lake Winnipeg acting as a lifeline for distant communities. She was decommissioned in 1965 and since 1973 she has been a highlight at the Marine Museum.
During the month of October every year, the S.S. Keenora is turned into a Halloween “haunt” alive with scary activities for the young and old!
The C.G.S. Bradbury was manufactured in Sorel, Quebec but was assembled here in Selkirk. Before her retirement in 1973 she was the coast guard vessel on Lake Winnipeg acting as a fishing patrol vessel for the Federal Government, a lighthouse tender, and an ice breaker. She did many daring rescues as well as ensuring the safety of vessels on the lake by marking channels and keeping the lighthouses supplied and maintained.
The Chickama II was built in 1942 by the Purvis Company of Selkirk. She operated as a passenger and freight vessel on Play Green Lake at the north end of Lake Winnipeg. When the S.S. Keenora arrived at Warren’s Landing, it was the little Chickama that carried passengers and freight to Norway House. Because Play Green Lake is shallow and full of rocky outcrops, the more manoeuvrable Chickama was ideally suited for its role.
Selkirk’s Purvis Company also built the Lady Canadian. She was built in 1944 but it was the Riverton Boat works that rebuilt her in 1963. During her career on Lake Winnipeg, the Lady Canadian was a hard working ship, transporting fish and freight to Selkirk. She was owned by the Canadian Fish Products. She was also used by Manitoba Hydro as a surveying ship.
The Peguis II was a tugboat built for the Department of Public Works. She operated on Lake Winnipeg from 1955 to 1974. In this time, she was used as a dredge tender and for hauling barges.
The last ship to talk about is none other than the Joe Simpson. The Joe Simpson was named after a famous Hockey player from Selkirk. She was built in 1963 and is a flat-bottomed vessel so she can navigate shallow waters easily. Interestingly, she was powered by the original diesel engines from the S.S. Keenora. She took over the duties from the Chickama II at Warren’s Landing when that vessel was retired.
These beautiful ships can all be seen at Selkirk’s Marine Museum. The wonderful, friendly staff are more than willing to share more fun facts with everyone that visit.