Welcome to River Boat Days

The Sternwheelers

The following is a comprehensive list of the 19 sternwheelers that ran the Skeena River between 1864 and 1912. They are listed in order of appearance, and have details pertaining to their names, some interesting facts about each, and what happened to them (where such information is available).

SS Union

Year: 1864
Owner: Captain Tom Coffin
Captain(s): T. Coffin
Points of Interest: The Union was a 60 foot sternwheeler that could carry 4 passengers outside of the crew and 20 tons of freight. This boat was chartered by the Collins Overland Telegraph Company to survey the Skeena for the transportation of construction supplies upriver. As she was grossly underpowered, she couldn't make it past the rapids at Kitsumkalum.
Where She Ended Up: She was accidentally burned on the Frazer River July 29th, 1878.

SS Mumford

Year: 1866
Owner: Collins Overland Telegraph Company
Captain(s): Tom Coffin
Points of Interest: The Mumford carried supplies and materials upriver as far as "Fort Mumford", which is the present day South East corner of Braun's Island in Terrace.
Where She Ended Up: She went back to Victoria and was later towed to San Francisco where she was sold.

SS Calendonia I

Year: 1891
Owner: Hudson's Bay Company
Captain(s): G. Odin Sr., F. Odin Jr., J.W. Troupe, J.H. Bonser
Points of Interest: The Caledonia I was designed by Captain G. Odin Sr and ran the river until 1897. She was strictly a commercial vessel, carrying no passengers. She was 100 feet long and her top speed was 16 mph. She took 9 days to reach Hazelton on her first trip. In 1895, 30 feet was added to her middle for better handling and cargo capacity. For the 7 years she ran the Skeena, she made 3 or 4 trips per season to Hazelton.
Where She Ended Up: Her hull ran aground on some rocks at Port Simpson during a storm and was destroyed. Her engines were put into the Caledonia II.

SS Caledonia II

Year: 1898
Owner: Hudson's Bay Company
Captain(s): J.H. Bonser & S.B. Johnson
Points of Interest: She ran supplies upriver for most of her time on the Skeena. Her sternwheel and buckets were of the same design as her namesake. In 1908, she was sold to a Prince Rupert syndicate and renamed the "Northwestern".
Where She Ended Up: She hit a snag and was refloated, then she hit another snag and was abandoned at Coronation Island across from Telegraph Point on the Skeena. Her engines and running gear were put into the Omineca,

SS Strathcona
Year: 1900
Owner: Strathcona
Captain(s): Masters & Smith
Points of Interest: The Strathcona made only 1 trip up the Skeena.
Where She Ended Up: She was sold to a Vancouver syndicate in 1900 and operated on Owen Sound. When she was eventually retired, she was beached and stripped on one of the Gulf Islands.

SS Monte Cristo

Year: 1900
Owner: R. Cunningham & Son
Captain(s): Bonser
Points of Interest: Cunningham hired Bonser, and Hudson's Bay Company skipper, to buy a steamer and operate it on the Skeena. The Strathcona only made a couple of trips upriver, after which it was chartered by the Dominion government and used on the Stikine River.
Where She Ended Up: She was used for a time to freight construction supplies for the Yukon Telegraph line out of Telegraph Creek. She ended up rotting on the ways at Port Essington. Her machinery was sold as junk.

SS Hazelton

Year: 1901
Owner: Cunningham
Captain(s): Bonser
Points of Interest: The Hudson's Bay Company offered Cunningham $2500/year for 3 years to keep the Hazelton on the ways at Port Essington in exchange for contracting Cunningham's freight for his store in Hazelton. Bonser left the Skeena for the Upper Fraser at this time.
Where She Ended Up: She was dismantled in 1912. Her machinery was shipped to the Peace River and installed in a new boat and her hull was sold to a Prince Rupert Yacht Club for use as their club house.

SS Mount Royal

Year: 1902
Owner: Hudson's Bay Company
Captain(s): Johnson
Points of Interest: The Mount Royal was the HBC's answer to Cunningham's Hazelton. The captains of both vessels worked not only for two highly competitive companies, but were competitive with one another for supremacy on the Skeena. The rivalry between the two captains eventually worked into races against the clock and they began not only resorting to stealing each other's cord wood along the way, but to also having no concern for their passengers whatsoever. The Mount Royal wintered in Victoria each year, returning when the river was again passable.
Where She Ended Up: She was wrecked in Kitselas Canyon in 1907 and 6 lives were lost. The captain and crew were absolved of any fault in a Marine Regulations inquiry. As a result, ringbolts were installed in Kitselas Canyon

SS Casa

Year: 1899
Owner: Mr. P. Hickey
Captain(s): Masters
Points of Interest: This boat made only one trip to Hazelton on the Skeena.
Where She Ended Up: She went back to Vancouver and was bought by the Yukon Navigation Company to run the Yukon River between Whitehorse and Dawson City. She was wrecked and rebuilt several times and was finally destroyed in a fire in 1974 in Whitehorse.

SS Pheasant

Year: 1905
Owner: Captains Magar & Watson
Captain(s): Magar, Watson & Bonser
Points of Interest: Her nickname was "Chicken" and she made 14 trips from Port Essington to Hazelton, 2 to Kitselas, and on excursion trip to Telegraph Point. Despite the trips she made, the Pheasant was underpowered to do freight runs on the Skeena so in 1906 she won a contract to blow out rocks from "Beaver Dam" and the "Hornets Nest". She stayed upriver too long in the fall and wrecked at Redrock Canyon near what is the present day Skeena Crossing rail bridge. She was a total loss.
Where She Ended Up: After she wrecked, her boiler was used in a sawmill near Terrace.

SS Craigflower

Year: 1908
Owner: Roy Troupe
Captain(s): Roy Troupe
Points of Interest: She made it upriver as far as Cedarvale, couldn't get further. She was used after this as a water taxi for the rail construction crews between the Hole-In-The-Wall and Port Essington.
Where She Ended Up: After her time on the Skeena the Craigflower was sent back to Victoria.

SS Northwest

Year: 1907
Owner: North Carolina Land Company
Captain(s): Bonser
Points of Interest: The NC Land Company was an American company with a store and hotel at Telkwa. The Northwest was used to ensure a steady supply flow and she carried liquor for hotels in Port Essington and Hazelton.
Where She Ended Up: She hit a snag in 1907 when she was upriver and was deemed a total loss. She was eventually dynamited out of the water.

SS Port Simpson

Year: 1908
Owner: Hudson's Bay Company
Captain(s): Johnson & Jackman
Points of Interest: She was the finest boat on the river at this time with regards to her speed and luxurious interior. She had hot and cold running water and steam heated cabins, earning her the nickname, "Queen of the Skeena".
Where She Ended Up: She left the Skeena in 1912 for a stint on the Stikine river. She sat in Port Simpson from 1917 to 1921 when she was towed to Dodge Cove. Her machinery was put into a new ship on the MacKenzie River and her hull was left to rot in the mud.

SS Distributor

Year: 1908
Owner: Grand Trunk Pacific Railway/Foley, Welch & Stewart
Captain(s): Simpson & Doderick
Points of Interest: Though she was build similar to the Pt. Simpson she was mainly a cargo boat and had no elaborate passenger accomodations.
Where She Ended Up: Afer she left the Skeena, her machinery was put into a new boat, also called the Distributor, on the MacKenzie River. Her superstructure was eventually used as a home in Victoria.

SS Operator & SS Conveyor

Year: 1908
Owner: Grand Trunk Pacific Railway/Foley, Welch & Stewart
Captain(s): Meyers (Operator) & Douglas (Conveyor)
Points of Interest: These vessels were both freight boats like the Distributor. They were taken to Vancouver and their machinery was sent to Tete Jaune Cache via Edmonton for use in boats of the same names on the Upper Fraser River.
Where They Ended Up: A flood in the 1940's took both boats downriver from Prince George where they broke up on some rocks. Their machinery was sold to sawmills around Prince George and their hulls were left to rot.

SS Omineca

Year: 1909
Owner: Grand Trunk Pacific Railway/Foley, Welch & Stewart<
Captain(s): Shannon
Points of Interest: The Omineca ran the river from 1909 - 1912 and was powered by the original Caledonia's Engines.
Where She Ended Up: She was taken to Howe Sound for the building of the P.G.E. railway, but was back on the ways at Dodge Cove in Prince Rupert by 1914.

SS Skeena

Year: 1908
Owner: P. Burns & Co.
Captain(s): Seymour
Points of Interest: She supplied live meat (beef, hogs, sheep) & vegetables to construction camps mostly on the Lower Skeena. She had iron sheathing on her bow which enabled her to run the river in winter.
Where She Ended Up: In 1911 she was sold to Captain Seymour for $22,500. He ran her on the Frazer River until 1926. She ws sold twice more after this and eventually became an oil barge.

SS Inlander

Year: 1910
Owner: Inlander Company
Captain(s): Buely & Bonser
Points of Interest: She was the last boat to arrive on the Skeena and she was the last boat to leave in 1912. She had room for 36 passengers in staterooms and 120 regular passengers. She had hot and cold running water; 3 flush toilets; steam heated rooms; lightweight dining tables and chairs; separate men's and women's washrooms; thick carpeting and double decker beds made of brass.
Where She Ended Up: She rotted on Cunningham's Ways at Port Essington beside the Monte Cristo. Her piano resides at the Terrace Historical Society's Pioneer Museum.

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