Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - December 1, 1956, Winnipeg, Manitoba
WINNIPEG, SATURDAY, DECEMBER 1, 1956 THE SS Minnesota, of the pioneer Red river steamboats, was the hussy of the lot. Adventurous, she sought fame and ex- citement and finally came to a tragic end but not be- fore changing her name and leading a full life. Her sister ship, the SS Manitoba, was almost as bad. Built at Fargo in 1875 by the Merchants Interna- tional Steamboat Line, they were alike as two peas in a pod in appearance. With _ their racing and cavorting, 1hey were the talk of the times. .The SS Minnesota, by dal- lying around the dock at the foot of Lombard street late in the season of 1S76, con- nived the honor of carry- ing the first shipment of wheat from Manitoba. (It was not the SS Selkirk as sc often stated. This steam- was busy plying back forth between Winni- peg and Selkirk that sea- CAPTAIN Charles B. Thi- mens, a kindred soul, hav- ing been a pilot, captain, and also part owner of ves- sels on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and five years in the quartermas- ter's department during the Civil War carrying troops and supplies up and down river, encouraged the SS Minnesota in her escapades. He defied the possibility of being frozen-in by delaying the departure of the ship on its presumedly final trip of the season in order that the farmers would have time to load their wheat. Threshing machines and fanning mills were scarce in Manitoba in those days. He leit on Saturday, Oc- tober 21st, and within 48 Molly McFaMei hours after he reached Fi- sher's Landing, the Red ri- ver was frozen over and navigation practically closed for the winter. However, it turned mild again and another trip to Winnipeg was made by her just for the heck of it. She had been the first arrival in the spring, April 25th, and she intended to be the last to leave, which she was on October 2Sth. From Fisher's Landing, the 412 sacks of famed Ca- nadian wheat were shipped by rail to Duluth, by vessel from there to Sarnia, where it arrived on November 17th. Then by rail to To- ronto. A. W. Burrows, editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, October 27, 1S76, received a letter from R. C. Steele Bros., Toronto, praising the quality of .the wheat re- ceived and thanking Captain Thimens and those respon- sible "for dataining SS Min- nesota after her usual time of sailing to receive the wheat on board." He also stressed the importance of having direct railway com- munication through Cana- dian territory at the ear- liest possible time. THE SS MINNESOTA again featured in special events when she brought Lord and Lady Dufferin to Winnipeg from Fisher's Landing on August 1S77. The popular governor-gene- ral was the first vice-regal representative to visit Win- nipeg. They went home in. September on this same steamboat and saw the en- gine on a barge at Fisher's Landing 'waiting 'to be brought to Winnipeg for the first railway in Manitoba.. This "Countess of Dufferin" now stands in front of Win- nipeg's C.P.R. 'station. During the winter 1880-1, the SS Minnesota was rebuilt at Grand Forks and re-named the City of Winnipeg. It was forty feet longer than before, making it 190 feet long, and had 10 additional staterooms. Furnished with a piano and the saloon fully carpeted, she was the pride of Captain James Sheets, in charge now, as she steamed up the A s s i-Ti i b o i n e with .flags flying on May 24, 1SS1', and stopped at 1'ne landing of the frontier vil- lage of Grand Valley, near the present site of Bran- don, Man, His pride was short-lived, as the Assiniboine river was too shallow for this Red river steamboat. On August 12, she 'came to grief near Poplar Point, where the heads were blown out of her cylinders. ToweiJ to Sel- kirk, her machinery was taken out and she was then towed by the larger and newer SS Princess in the direction of Grand Rapids. A severe storm came: up and battered her unmerci- fully. Finally she broke up and drifted upon the shore 40 miles from Grand Ra- pids. It had been intended 1o use the SS Manitoba, her sister ship which had been rebuilt at Grand Forks also, on the Saskatchewan river, but the accident on the Assiniboine river decided differently..Had the SS'City of been content cruise'. in safe waters and, not let -her'-: grandeur ..go'Ltq her she might have had many years :of usefulness on the. Red Ri- ver of the North. i s Kjg. _'_.. -r. __ t. Here is a picture of the SS Minnesota, one of the pioneer Red river steamboats, who later had her name changed to SS City of Winnipeg. Had the saucy ship to cruise in safe waters she might never have come to grief on the Assiniboine river near Poplar Point. At one time the ship boasted a piano and a saloon. You Have To See !t To Believe H GO east, young man! East, to Atikokan, Ont.n where in the space of a dozen years an isolated community of trappers and a handful of C.N.R. rail- workers has developed in- to a bustling town of people. Atikokan is growing faster and faster and fast- er at a dizzying spiral that will wind to a total of. 000 by the early 1960's. And some civic boosters are setting their sights for a city of This is a young commun- ity with, dazzling opportun- ities, high salaries, an ex- cellent standard of living, and an accent on family life. The sound of carpenters' saws and hammers is still heard on the broad-streets of Atikokan as they try to keep pace with the mush- room growth of a town which is building schools at the rale of more than one a year four in the next three years, to be exact. For Atikokan has been built f'rom one of the most .fabulous developments of modern times. A lake, hun- dreds of feet deep, has been drained to make iron This is an aerial view of a section of the fabu- lous Steep Rock Mine. At the upper left hand of the picture the trees mark the shoreline of the lake, that has been drained to make way for mining operations. The mine expects to take something like tons of iron ore-out this year. ore accessible to the Steep Rock Mines. To dp this, a river has been diverted, and modern machinery, and methods have been brought into play. STANDING ON T H R rim of the lake, with great trucks toiling up the sides with their burden of iron ore, and dredges operat- ing night and day, is like being on the edge of the Grand Canyon. The rim of trees marking the o 1 d shoreline dips sharply into the depths. From Steep Rock Mines, which are still expanding, came gross tons of high grade ore last year compared with tons in 1954. Next year's figure will beat this by at least a million, tons, it is ex- pected. In addition, the powerful Caland ore inter- ests have leased holdings from Steep Rocks' Mines. When it goes into opera- tion it will add to the wealth and the workers. No town ever had it so good as Atikokan, and the amount of civic boosting would shame the in- habitants of Texas. One op- timist told 'me that al-' though temperature liguiv es compared about the same as Winnipeg, that it was 'warmer because the rock and the valley kept out the wind. I dutifully recorded thss in my note book, and then stepped out into the streets to be swept off my feet by a north-easter. This, I was informed, was an exceptional circum- stance. But the boosting is understandable. In 1943, there were only 250 people in Atikokan, It was primi- tive, makeshift, and few were optimistic enough to guess that the mine would change everything. But change it has. OWEN LINDSAY, 39- year-old chairman of the Atikokan school board is a good example of the spirif of the town. Lindsay came in 1945 when the figure had jumped to about 600. There was one two-room school, which only went to grade nine or 10. It had 60 pupils. In 1956 they have 30 clasrooms in three schools of 10 .rooms each. They have 31 teachers in the public schools, seven teach- ers in the separate (Ro- man Catholic) school, and nine teachers and a princi- pal in the high school. The total enrollment is children. The modern Atikokan hospital records a birth a day, and Atikokanites will tell you that the town has the highest birth rate in Canada.. Young people, who are starting families, settle there. The pay is high, the educational stan- dards are high, too. To at- tract good teachers, the school board offers far better salaries than the big cities. Where trappers shacks stood, ranch-type houses with picture windows are ranged around crescent shaped streets. Pine trees and scenery that have all the beauty of summer re- sort: country add to the beauty. There are lakes within 10 minutes drive where you can fish and swim. The town has s, swimming pool where youngsters. learn safety .rules. This symbol of Atikokan's growth points out how much the town depends on the mine. It shows the town literally being supported by the muscular gentle- man who represents-the mining industry. Atikokan, in the midst of a mining boom, hasn't for- gotten that the town's po- tential as a tourist area is astoundingly good! As it goes, the road situation somewhat isolates'- the place. However, they are planning to extend the highway to Fort Francis, which would make it more accessible to visitors. There is also talk of a road linking the town to Dryden, which is about 90 miles away as the c r o w flies, but several hundred as the roax goes. THE HOTELS are mod- ern, and townspeople have a first class movie house which they patron- ize heavily. Television is piped in by a private com pany, and those who sub- scribe have their choice of two American networks which is more than Winni- peg; offers. In this up-and-at-'em at- mosphere, Bob Clarke with his weekly paper has his circulation at some- thing around papers, and it is continuing to grow The paper records that plenty is going on. There is a flourishing little theatre, a ladies' choir, and other or- ganizations. Concerts are frequent, and they are hea- vily attended. The friendly like to meet together. AND AS A final hint to the ladies. There are plen- ty of eligible young bache- lors who could be persuad- ed to set their ambitions on one of those new homes are going up. Atikokan is quite z. place. You can take my word for it. Or, better still, go and see for yourself.