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MS Norgoma

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MS Norgoma was a Canadian package freighter and passenger ferry, that could also transport automobiles on a limited basis. Originally constructed as a steam-powered ship in 1950, SS Norgoma primarily sailed the route from her home port of Owen Sound to Sault Ste. Marie, providing a five-day round trip, once a week, serving isolated communities along the north shore of Lake Huron. After conversion to a motor ship, Norgoma was transferred to the popular Manitoulin Island ferry route between Tobermory and South Baymouth along with her sister ship SS Norisle, replacing the smaller ferry, MS Normac, on that route.

Norgoma, owned by Owen Sound Transportation Company Limited, was built at the Collingwood shipyards in 1950. She replaced the SS Manitoulin, which was retired in 1949.

Norgoma travelled mainly on the North Channel route until 1963. Improvements to Ontario's highways, such as the Trans-Canada Highway (Georgian Bay Route) completed in 1962, brought about stiff competition for the company. In that year a 60-kilometer road was constructed to Killarney, the first port of call for the steamer. At the same, increased traffic on the Manitoulin Island – Tobermory route demanded a greater automobile capacity than her sister ships SS Norisle and MS Normac could handle.

In 1963 the ship was refitted with a diesel engine to replace her original steam engine and boiler, to increase automobile capacity. As steam was still required to operate deck winches and the anchor windlass, a vapor steam generator, similar to those used on railway locomotives, was installed on the ship. MS Norgoma made her debut on the Tobermory run in 1964.

According to Captain Schrieber, who captained Norgoma, it was the first vessel that he commanded where he witnessed livestock showing signs of seasickness.

In 1974, both Norgoma and Norisle were replaced by the much larger and more modern MS Chi-Cheemaun which could accommodate more vehicles than both sister ships put together. Norgoma is now berthed permanently as a museum ship in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

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Latest developments:

"The M.S Norgoma has been operating as a museum ship on the Sault Ste Marie waterfront since the 1980's and is owned and operated by the Board of Directors of the St Mary's River Marine Heritage Centre, a non-profit and charitable organization. The M.S Norgoma tells the vast marine history of the Nationally Designated Historic St. Mary's River, Sault Ste Marie, and the Upper Great Lakes. The vessel has undergone multiple resotration and renovations to keep the vessel as the jewel of the waterfront it once was.
Recently, City Council of Sault Ste Marie has decided to evict the Norgoma from its permanent berth to an undetermined location. The Board of Directors is fighting hard to continue to find a space for the MS Norgoma, to continue to preserve, present, and share our vast marine history."

 

Museum info:
Address: 101 Foster Drive, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario P6A 5N1, Canada
Phone: (705) 256-7447
Norgoma's website
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