It took time to load and unload freight at each stop along the Turkey Trail. The purser would go ashore, set up a small table on the dock, and keep track of the freight, as it was off-loaded.
During this time, the ship’s passengers could stretch their legs, or stay on board and watch as barrels and boxes, cows, horses, crates of chickens and automobiles were disgorged from the Norgoma’s spacious hold. On the last trip of the season, in mid-to-late November, the Norgoma would be heavily loaded with supplies to last through the long winter. The Norgoma carried
14,000 tones of freight in 1951. By 1963 the Norgoma’s last year as a cargo ship, the freight had dropped dramatically. On one of the final trips, the freight consisted of a single roll of garden hose.
The cargo included everything people needed for everyday life
Cargo included food, fresh vegetables, soft drinks in wooden cases, fruits, flour, salt, sugar, hardware, farm implements, building supplies, fuel, coal, kerosene, and gasoline and cars that were lowered into the ship's hold by means of an elevator - everything one could get on a shopping trip in the big cities to the south.
The hold was filled with drums, barrels, sacks, wooden boxes, cardboard boxes, kegs and cages.
Livestock was a major cargo. As many as 100 cattle might be carried to livestock sales at Little Current.
A case of butter was unloaded at Killarney general store, a horse-drawn hay rake and a complete set of household furnishings, including the stove, was carried from Cockburn Island to Thessalon, a large number of new fish boxes were loaded at Gore Bay for delivery to Owen Sound, according to James Berry.
Return trips cargo, would be fresh lake trout and whitefish packed in crushed ice, 100 pounds of fish to each wooden box. Also southbound from Sault Ste. Marie would be consignments of livestock, lumber, farm produce and additional loads of fish picked up at ports on Manitoulin Island and at Killarney.
Lifestock was a major cargo. It was not unusual every autumn to load up to a hundred cattle at Meldrum Bay or Gore Bay for delivery to the regular cattle sales at Little Current or ports beyond. Manitoulin Island was also, for a period of time following World War II, an exporter of turkeys, hence the name Turkey Trail.
Cruises were introduced to the Norgoma when there was no more need for delivering cargo.
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A typical Cruise on the Norgoma
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