Steamers on Lake Temagami

Big roles for small periods - 1903-1945

No steamer had the staying power of the Belle, but several played prominent roles during their period on the lake.

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Photos: Steamers Temagami and Bobs on Lake Temagami

Temagami and Bobs: These steamers were brought to Temagami in 1905 to form the fleet of the short-lived Temagami Navigation Company. It operated in direct competition with O'Connor's line until his company bought it out in 1909. The 12-ton, 70-foot Temagami (left) had been an Eaton-family yacht in the Muskokas called her the Wanda (the current successor Wanda III operates today as a tour steamer on Lake Muskoka). She did not stay on the lake long, and was sold to a Haileybury group about 1910.

The 26-ton Bobs was purchased from a lumber company in Parry Sound. It had a longer career than the Temagami, operating through the First World War. But Perron & Marsh did not want her and she was sold and moved to Lake Timiskaming about 1920. She went from there to Lake Abitibi where she was pronounced DOA after capsizing on the Whitefish River in 1928. 



The Depression seemed little more than a thunderstorm beyond the horizon to Temagami's tourism as it defiantly continued to grow. These were the prime years of rugged canoe camps for boys and the era of tourist lodges that attracted guests from southern Ontario and the United States for sojourns of a week or more. For the steamers, it meant a steady stream of passengers and freight.

All passenger boats carried freight, but they also towed scows loaded with lumber, coal, hay and food for icehouses. For the mass exodus to and from the youth camps at the season openers and closers, the scows hauled baggage.

The tourism trade got a boost from the 1927 construction of the Ferguson Highway which brought more passengers. But it was still a rough, gravel, single-lane road. The real boost came with the straightening, widening to two lanes and paving that reincarnated it into Highway 11 in 1936.

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If you have photos, anecdotes or information you would like to contribute to this series on Temagami's boat lines,

email Brian Back.

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