Western Canadian steamships of the Oblate Order of Mary Immaculate

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In the late 19th Century the Oblate Order of Mary Immaculate operated a fleet of steamships on rivers in the Canadian west.[1][2] The order is an organization of Christian missionaries. They had established small missions to proselytize to Canada's First Nations people throughout the west.[3] The Hudson's Bay Company was granted a Royal Charter to all the land that drained into Hudson's Bay Company in 1670 - a vast tract of land, known as Rupert's Land. They administered Rupert's Land until the late 1800s, when it was sold to the new Dominion of Canada. The Canadian Pacific Railway had crossed Canada, and other railways had been constructed in the west, but many remote areas were only accessible by riverboat—riverboats operated by the Hudson's Bay Company

The Oblate Order with the local leadership of Bishop Grouard started constructing their own fleet of riverboats, one each for isolated stretches of river. [4][3] The order included skilled carpenters, who constructed the riverboats, on-site, from local timber. The engines were shipped from eastern Canada.

Their fleet included:

The S.S. St. Joseph on the Athabasca River..jpg St. Joseph 1893
The steamboat St. Alphonse, an Oblate Order Mission ship on the lower Slave and Mackenzie rivers.jpg St. Alphonse 1894
The steamboat St. Emile, an Oblate Order Mission Ship on the Lesser Slave Lake.jpg St. Emile 1902
St. Charles an early steamship on the upper Peace River.jpg St. Charles 1903


  1. ^ "The S.S. St. Charles, 1906, Peace River Crossing, Alberta, Canada". Peace River Museum. 2012. p. 3. Archived from the original on 2012-12-05. 
  2. ^ Edward L. Affleck. "Steamboating on the Peace River" (PDF). British Columbia History. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-12-06. The brothers built a fleet of small primitive steamers, extending by 1903 to the waters of the Peace above the Vermilion Chutes. In that year the pint—sized sternwheeler St. Charles began to work the 526 mile stretch from Fort Vermilion to Hudson’s Hope, carrying lumber and supplies for the Mission at Fort St. John in British Columbia, as well as goods for the Northwest Mounted Police. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "The Oblates on the Peace River and the S.S. St. Charles". Peace River Museum. 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-12-06. 
  4. ^ "The Canadian Encyclopedia (Bishop Emile Grouard)". Retrieved 2013-06-18.