Steamer Kenozha – 1883 to 1918

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Kenozha at BalaOn August 15, 2018 we will mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the steamer Kenozha. Built at Gravenhurst, she joined the Muskoka & Nipissing Navigation Company fleet in 1883.

In the July 14, 1887 issue of the Toronto paper World, Kenozha was “said to be the fastest ship on the lakes.” She carried 250 passengers, including in 1884, the Marquis of Lansdowne, who was touring Muskoka in the company of A. P. Cockburn.

According to a pamphlet written by Cockburn, “…navigation to Bracebridge, in spring and early summer, was rendered very difficult, especially for paddle steamers, owing to the large quantity of logs and timber being floated down the river. To overcome this difficulty the successful screw steamer Kenozha was designed in the fall of 1882, and was ready early in 1883, making three round trips daily between Gravenhurst and Bracebridge with a fair list of passengers and freight upon each trip.”

When she was launched in 1883, Kenozha was advertised as “fast, new and comfortable.” In 1968, Captain Wesley D. Hill recalled that “Kenozha’s deep, quiet, resounding whistle could be heard at Gravenhurst from Bala Park (if the wind were right!).”

Kenozha was reported destroyed by fire August 13, 1918 while at Stanley House, Steele’s Bay, Lake Joseph. She was cut adrift from the hotel wharf, and pushed out into the bay. She drifted across the bay, sinking near the shore. Her machinery was salvaged eventually, becoming the property of Herbert Robinson of Milford Bay.

However, research has shown that she burned early Thursday morning, August 15, 1918. The crew of 14 escaped, without clothes, money or personal effects. At the time, she was the oldest ship in the fleet, and had been recently enlarged to carry 350 passengers.

Kenozha is the Ojibwa word for pickerel. She carried a carved wooden pickerel on her wheelhouse.