SS Keenora

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Keenora at Marine Museum of Manitoba
Career (Canada)
Laid down: 1896
Launched: 1897
In service: 1897–1917, 1923–1966
Out of service: 1966
Fate: as a museum since 1973
General characteristics
Length: 158 ft (48 m)
Speed: 15 knots
File:Indian pilot on Steamship Keenora, Lake of the Woods.jpg
Indian pilot on Steamship Keenora, Lake of the Woods

The steamboat SS Keenora is probably the best-known and most loved of all Lake Winnipeg steamboats. The vessel began operations as a steamboat on Lake of the Woods in Ontario, where from she was transported to Winnipeg, Manitoba and rebuilt. Currently retired from service, the Keenora is the fireplace mantel of collection at the Marine Museum of Manitoba in Selkirk, Manitoba.


The steamboat Keenora was built in 1897 for passenger and cargo traffic along the Ontario's Lake of the Woods, where she ran successfully for over a decade, serving isolated communities on the lake as distant as Rainy River. When the Ontario and Rainy River Railway was built in 1901 traffic volumes began to decline, following the takeover of this railway by Canadian Northern Railway in 1915, the vessel was sold to a consortium of Winnipeg lawyers. The Keenora was dismantled and transported in sections to Winnipeg on railroad flatcars in 1917.

Once reassembled in Winnipeg, she received an additional 30' (10m) extension on her hull, increaseing her overall length to 158 feet (41,8 m). For a season she served as a floating dance hall in downtown Winnipeg, but was later assigned to cargo and passenger traffic on Lake Winnipeg and on Red River. A total of 65 passenger cabins were constructed, and a new machinery was installed. The machinery guaranteed a speed of 15 knots (27,8 km/h).

The regular route started from Winnipeg, with a turnaround point located at the northern end of Lake Winnipeg, at Warren Landing on the Big Mossy Point. From Warren Landing the passengers and cargo were transferred to a smaller steamboat, which covered the last 30 kilometres (20 miles) to Norway House. The Keenora was clearly a too large vessel to enter the shallow Nelson River.

Her career ended in the 1960s when she could not meet the new maritime regulations. At first she was destined to be scrapped, but was salvaged to be the cornerstone of Marine Museum of Manitoba's collections.

Recommended reading

  • Russell, Frances: Mistehay Sakahegan: The Great Lake, ISBN 1-896150-10-1 (Heartland Associates Publishing and Communications)

External links

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