Fire Canoe: Prairie Steamboat Days Revisited

Item Information
Item#: 9781459732087
Edition 02
Author Barris, Ted
Cover Hardback
On Hand 1
On Order 0

The story of steamboating in the Canadian West comes to life in the voices of those aboard the vessels of the waterways of the Prairies.

Their captains were seafaring skippers who had migrated inland. Their pilots were indigenous people who could read the shoals, sandbars, and currents of Prairie waterways. Their operators were businessmen hoping to reap the benefits of commercial enterprise along the shores and banks of Canada’s inland lakes and rivers. Their passengers were fur traders, adventure-seekers, and immigrants opening up the West. All of them sought their futures and fortunes aboard Prairie steamboats, decades before the railways arrived and took credit for the breakthrough.

Aboriginal people called them “fire canoes,” but in the latter half of the nineteenth century, their operators promoted them as Mississippi-type steamship queens delivering speedy transport, along with the latest in technology and comfort. Then, as the twentieth century dawned, steamboats and their operators adapted. They launched smaller, more tailored steamers and focused on a new economy of business and pleasure in the West. By day their steamboats chased freight, fish, lumber, iron ore, real estate, and gold-mining contracts. At night, they brought out the Edwardian finery, lights, and music to tap the pleasure-cruise market.

Short Description
Years before railroads arrived, the Canadian West was opened up by an unlikely breed of ship: steamboats plying Prairie waterways. Their aboriginal pilots, experts at reading the tricky waterways, called the ships “fire canoes.” By day they chased freight contracts, but at night they introduced the Edwardian Prairies to pleasure cruises.

Table of Contents
Prologue1 First Down the Red2 The Scot, the Wolf, and the Honourable Company3 Paddles of Peace and War4 Walterdale Steam5 Saskatchewan Tramp Steamers6 The Queer Apple7 J.K. Cornwall and his N.T.C.8 Dontianen Lives9 Laird of the Saskatchewan10 In Defiance of la Bête Noire11 On the Sixth Great LakeEpilogueNotesBibliographyChronologyIndex