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The Story of the S.S. Iroquois

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The Iroquois was 118 ft long 23 ft wide with a displacement of 198 tons. Her construction began in 1906 at South Portage and launched in 1907 to ease the demand on her sister ship the Mohawk Belle.  The lake steamers held a vital role in supplying transportation, freight and mail service during this period.  The Iroquois serviced the ports of south Portage through to her home port of Dorset twice daily with the majority of her passengers heading to Bigwin Inn and other resorts on the Lake.

It would be hard to imagine the ordeal we would have to face to get to the cottage in the early 1900’s.  The lake steamers were the only reliable means of transportation available.  To start the ordeal you would board the tourist train in Toronto and get off in Huntsville and board the Algonquin steamship.  The the iroquois at dorsetAlgonquin would let you off at North Portage after servicing other ports of call on the route. You would then take the ¼ mile trek on the Portage Flyer, the smallest railroad in the world to South Portage.

After the train ride, the Iroquois and the Mohawk Belle would whisk you off from South Portage to you destination on Lake of Bays.

The construction of better roads and the effects of the great depression on the tourist trade caused a steady decline in demand for the steamers.  After a year of retirement and neglect
The S.S. Iroquois sank at the South Portage dock on Christmas day, 1949 after servicing Lake
Of Bays for 42 years. A new pier was constructed at South Portage over the hull of the Iroquois.  If you look closely on a sunny day you can still see her outline.

In this painting the Iroquois is resting at Dorset getting serviced for the next trip around the lake.

 


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