Wenonah II

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Wenonah II
Original RMS Segwun and replica Wenonah 3.jpg
The foreground vessel is the historic RMS Segwun the rear vessel is Wenonah II.
History
Operator: Muskoka Steamships
Completed: 2002
General characteristics
Length: 126 ft (38 m)

Wenonah and Wenonah II are two steamships that navigated a series of connected lakes that covered much of the county of Muskoka, Ontario, Canada.

The Original Wenonah[edit]

The original Wenonah was a sidewheel steamship, built by Alexander Peter Cockburn, on Lake Muskoka, in 1866.[1] She was the first vessel employed by the Muskoka Navigation Company. She carried passengers, mail and freight, and towed logs for the lumber industry.

Cockburn was elected to the Ontario Provincial Parliament in 1867. According to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, "[by] the spring of 1869 he had induced the Ontario government to build a lock on the Indian River at Port Carling and a canal at Port Sandfield, to allow steamers to extend their runs to lakes Rosseau and Joseph." Cockburn also played a role in passing legislation to have rail service extended to Gravenhurst, one of the other ports served by the Muskoka steamships.

Wenonah was abandoned in 1886, in favor of newer vessels.[2]

Modern replica[edit]

Wenonah II is a modern replica of the early 20th century steamships.[3][4] She is homeported in Gravenhurst, Ontario, and is operated by Muskoka Steamships, which also operates RMS Segwun. Segwun is the last surviving original steamship from the fleet of several dozen that served the county of Muskoka, Ontario in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

As a road network was built the steamships became less useful and were either broken up, or not replaced when they were lost. The final two ships, Segwun and RMS Sagamo were retired in 1958. Sagamo was destroyed by a fire in 1969. In 1972, volunteers started to restore Segwun. In 1981 she started to carry sightseers on the lakes, and to host dinner cruises. She is the oldest steamship in North America.

Her cruises were so popular that Segwun's operators decided to construct a modern replica, inspired by the original vessels, named Wenonah II, to supplement the historic Segwun.[3] The modern replica was completed in 2002 and while she has the appearance of an early twentieth century steamship, she has modern conveniences, like air conditioning, and an elevator. She is larger than Seqwun, and also carries sightseers and dinner cruises.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tatley, Richard S. "Cockburn, Alexander Peter". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. University of Toronto. Archived from the original on 25 September 2009. 
  2. ^ Steamboats on the Lakes. James Lorimer & Company Ltd. 2005. ISBN 978-1-55028-885-8. The railway, reaching Gravenhurst in 1975, provided a route for getting lumber to the southern markets and for bringing passengers into the Muskoka Lakes. By 1885, when the Wenonah was abandoned, the thin soil of Muskoka had forced many of the settlers off the land. 
  3. ^ a b Newberry, Lillian (13 June 2002). "Full steam ahead ; Wenonah II joins Segwun on Muskoka lakes". Travel. Toronto Star. 
  4. ^ Hauch, Valerie (31 July 2009). "Port Carling's locks rich in history". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 25 September 2009.