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The C.G.S. Bradbury was prefabricated in Sorel, Quebec, and later assembled along the bank of the Selkirk Slough in 1915. The ship was made of steel, it was 48 meters (158ft) long, and had a maximum speed of 15 knots (28km/hr).

The Bradbury replaced the S.S. Baldur and operated as a fisheries patrol vessel for the Federal Department of Transport’s Marine Services, later the Canadian Coast Guard. However, the Bradbury was less successful than her predecessor, as she burned coal instead of wood. The thick, black, smoke from the ship’s funnel alerted her presence from miles away, which allowed poachers to escape long before the Bradbury could arrive. The Bradbury never managed to apprehend any of Lake Winnipeg’s illegal fishermen.

The C.G.S. Bradbury also worked as a lighthouse tender delivering supplies, fuel, and mail. Due to the ship’s strong, durable construction it was also used as an icebreaker. She was the only icebreaker on the Lake for the entirety of her career. One notable journey in 1917 involved transporting doctors and medical supplies to a northern settlement struck by a flu epidemic. The route to the settlement was through half a foot of ice.

A Change of Hands

In 1930, the ship was transferred to the Provincial government. The ship’s original coal burning engines were converted to diesel in 1935 but was sold a year later by the Provincial government. The government’s decision to sell the C.G.S. Bradbury came as a result of potential buyers who wished to use the ship to transport supplies to new mineral developments.

Interestingly, the Bradbury was offered for sale at a public auction in 1933, but the prices submitted were not considered high enough, and the government declined the bids.

Province to Sell Steamer Bradbury, November 12, 1936, Winnipeg Free Press p.16

After the sale, the C.G.S. Bradbury sat idle for some time until 1952 when it was recommissioned and returned to its previous duties. In addition, the ship became a dredge tender and transportation vessel for Government officials visiting the Lake Winnipeg.

Saving the Bradbury

In 1973, the Federal government’s Department of Public Works took the C.G.S. Bradbury out of service. For a year, the Marine Museum communicated back and forth with both the Federal and Provincial governments to obtain the ship from Crown Assets Disposal Corporation. Crown Assets agreed to sell the ship to the Museum where it was, and in ‘as is’ condition for a price of $13, 000. The Museum had until the December 9th, 1974 to purchase the ship before the government entertained other offers.

May Purchase the Bradbury, 1974, Arborg Lake Centre News and Manitouwapa Times p.1

Being a non-profit organization which relies on donations and admissions, the Marine Museum did not have the funds to purchase the boat, so they appealed to private individuals and companies for their support. The C.G.S Bradbury was a large part of Manitoba’s marine history and the Museum felt it must remain in Selkirk for future generations.

Funds were raised by the community, the ship was purchased, and it became a permanent part of the Marine Museum’s collection. However, the cost of moving the ship from its resting place to its present location at the Marine Museum’s ‘shipyard’ was another hurdle.

In 1976, the Kiwanis Club donated $5000 to assist with expenses connected to relocating the ship.

The Bradbury, March 18, 1976, Winnipeg Free Press p.70

The ship is known for its valour and distinction and is the second oldest ship in the collection, after the S.S. Keenora.

C.G.S. Bradbury Collection

Sources

Marine Museum of Manitoba

Manitoba Historical Society – The Marine Museum

Arborg Lake Centre News, 1974

Selkirk Enterprise, 1976

Winnipeg Free Press, 1936