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Remembering the S.S. Norgoma

Carol Zarudenec Smith for local2 sault ste. marie
August 8th, 2012 at 3:34pm | Last Updated at 7:12pm

The SS Norgoma Museum ShipHow many times have you walked past the Norgoma docked at the marina by the Civic Centre? Ever wonder what it was used for while it was in operation? I’ll tell you all about it.

The passenger steamer S. S. Norgoma was christened officially in 1950 by Mrs. W. E. Harris, wife of new Cabinet Minister of Citizenship & Immigration. In attendance were a number of guests from the ship’s builders, the Collingwood Shipyards Limited and many officials of her owners, the Owen Sound Dominion Transportation Company. Her maiden voyage into Georgian Bay was April 26, 1950. The S. S. Norgoma was a 187 foot passenger vessel built in forty days. She accommodated 100 cabin passengers, 100 deck passengers and 30 automobiles. Its route was an Owen Sound-Sault Ste. Marie run.

The SS Norgoma in its Heyday
Credit: Lloyd Walton

April 27, 1950, the Norgoma completed a successful trial run. On board were Chief Engineer Frank Courtice of the Collingwood Shipyards and his assistant “Mac” MacMurray, Harold Walton, General Manager of the Shipyard, J. Surgenor, naval architect who designed the vessel, Ivor Wagner, President of Owen Sound Transportation Co. W. W. Barnard, Captain Robert Morrison who will command the new vessel, Chief Engineer Wm. Owens, 2nd Engineer W. Pike and First Mate Lance Cruickshank who will be other officers of the Norgoma when she enters the company’s service.

The S. S. Norgoma replaced the S. S. Manitoulin that was taken out of service the end of the 1949 season.

May 4, 1950 gaily bedecked with flags and to the sounds of automobile horns and factory whistles, the S. S. Norgoma left the harbour at noon with 100 passengers headed for Owen Sound.

Cars being loaded on to the SS Norgoma
Credit: Lloyd Walton

Dining Hall on the SS Norgoma

All cabins were "first class," a few of them were most luxurious and had their own bath.
Guests were served a buffet luncheon during their voyage. The S. S. Norgoma received a great welcome at Owen Sound after a five hour trip. Mayor E. C. Sargent presented a beautiful barometer to the ship in an informal ceremony. It was accepted by Ivor Wagner, President of the owners and Captain Morrison. For two evenings, the ship was open for inspection by citizens of Owen Sound and district.

In the Norgoma tuck shop passengers could buy candy, popcorn, soft drinks, local newspapers, post cards, stamps, and magazines. The dining room seated fifty passengers at a time, with two sittings for every meal that included salads, Lake Huron whitefish, fresh vegetables, dinner rolls, fruit pies, milk, tea, and coffee.

The last run of the S.S. Norgoma (steam ship) on the Turkey Trail from Owen Sound to the Sault took place on September 12, 1963. A total of eighty passengers occupied the Norgoma's staterooms on her final voyage.

Following the completion of the Trans-Canada Highway in 1963, the Norgoma was converted from steam to diesel and remodelled as a car ferry. Carrying twenty-five cars on one deck and a dozen on the lower deck, the M.S. Norgoma (motor ship) ran twice daily on the ferry run from Tobermory to South Bay Mouth from 1964 to 1974. Retired to make way for the Chi-Chee-maun, with a capacity of 140 vehicles, the Norgoma was brought to Sault Ste. Marie in 1975 and converted to a floating museum in 1977.

By Carol Zarudenec Smith
Copyright 2012

The SS Norgoma After its Retirement


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