SS Kamloops

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Career (Canada) Flag of Canada 1921.svg
Name: Kamloops
Operator: Canada Steamship Lines, Ltd.
Montreal Province of Quebec, Canada
Builder: Furness Ship Building Company
Northhampton, England
Yard number: 68
Completed: 1924
Fate: Foundered off Isle Royale in western Lake Superior 7 December 1927
Notes: Canada Registry #147682
General characteristics
Class and type: Package freighter - canaller
Tonnage: 2402 gross
1748 net
Length: 250 ft (76 m)
Beam: 43 ft (13 m)
Height: 24 ft (7.3 m)
Propulsion: triple expansion steam
Crew: 22

The SS Kamloops was a lake freighter that was part of the fleet of Canada Steamship Lines from its launching in 1924 until it sank with all hands off Isle Royale in Lake Superior on or about 7 December 1927.

The canaller

Steamship Kamloops was built by Furness Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. in Haverton Hill within Stockton-on-Tees in the northeast of England. With a length of only 250 feet (75 m) and rated at 2,402 gross tons, the Kamloops was a relatively small vessel for the Great Lakes in the 1920s. She was built to fit inside the locks of the Welland Canal and other Canadian-operated canals of the lower Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River during the years prior to the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

As a canaller, the Kamloops carried diversified "package" freight from Canadian port to port. Her chief duty was carrying manufactured goods from Montreal up the lakes to Thunder Bay. During the 1920s, Canada was part of the British Empire; economically fast-growing areas within the Empire, such as the Prairie Provinces, bought most of their manufactured goods from the home country, England. Canada's freshwater fleet, including the Kamloops, was an essential link in this vein of imperial commerce.[1]

December 1927

It is the custom of Great Lakes shipping to try to move as much freight as possible before winter and associated ice conditions bring boat movements to a halt. In line with this duty, the Kamloops was dispatched up the lakes in late November 1927, carrying a mixed cargo of papermaking machinery, coiled wire for range fencing, shoes, piping, and tar paper.

On 1 December, the steamer called at Courtright, Ontario, to top off its cargo with some bagged salt. It then steamed up Lake Huron, passed through the Sault Ste. Marie Canal on 4 December, and faced the challenge of Lake Superior.

Unfortunately for the Kamloops and other vessels assigned to Lake Superior runs, a massive storm began hammering the lake on 5 December. The Kamloops, heavily coated with ice, was last seen steaming towards the southeastern shore of Isle Royale at dusk on the following day, 6 December. She and the 22 men and women aboard were never again seen alive.[1]

Adding to the mystery of the Kamloops's disappearance were the discovery in the spring of 1928 of the remains of several of her crew. The bodies were found on Amygdaloid Island, on the northwestern or opposite side of lengthy Isle Royale from where the vessel had last been seen.[2]

The Kamloops today

For fifty years, the Kamloops was one of the Ghost Ships of the Great Lakes, having sunk without a trace. Her wreck was discovered northwest of Isle Royale in 1977, sitting on the lake bottom under more than 270 feet (80 m) of water. The cause of her sinking remained a mystery as of 2007.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Dwight Boyer (1968). Ghost Ships of the Great Lakes. New York City, N.Y.: Dodd, Mead & Company. LOC #68-23094. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "The History of the 'Kamloops'", Superior Trips LLC, Fridley, Minn. (no date). [1], accessed 13 August 2007.

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