The Cruise Experience
Whether basic transportation for working people or luxury excursions for vacationers, a trip on the Norgoma was a unique experience.
As a cruise ship, the Norgoma had room for one hundred passengers who were berthed on the two passenger decks, (A) Boat deck and (B) Promenade deck. These cabins were only 6’X 6’. A Deck had 34 cabins (#1 to #34) while B Deck had 16 cabins (#35-50). Although there was no class distinction between the two decks, staterooms 1, 2, 45 and 46 considered deluxe with a captain’s bed, a small closet and their own shower. The cost for these staterooms for a five day tour in the Norgoma’s later years was $87.50. Cabins 17 and 18 had their own toilet.
The majority of passenger cabins had two bunks with shared men and women’s restrooms and showers. These accommodations were $75.00 for the five-day cruise. The staterooms on the Norgoma were always booked to capacity during summer months, giving tourists the opportunity to enjoy a leisurely five-day cruise through some of the finest scenery on the Great Lakes.
The Dining Room
Click on image to see a typical breakfast menu.
A Typical Five-Day Cruise on the Norgoma
A Typical cruise on the Norgoma began with an 8:00 a.m. boarding in Owen Sound on Monday. After settling in, a buffet lunch would be served to the passengers and , in the evening, after a dinner of Lake Huron whitefish and fresh, locally grown vegetables, music and dancing were offered in the forward lounge.
After Monday night, which was spent on Georgian Bay, the first stop on Tuesday would be the fishing village of Killarney, one of the oldest communities on Georgian Bay. Originally know as Shehahonaning or " Straight and Narrow Passage" Killarney had been founded as a fur trading post in the 1820's. Isolated in the northeast corner of Georgian Bay, the community was not reached by a road until 1962.
After Killarney, the Norgoma would steam west. Her next port of call would be Manitowaning on Manitoulin Island. This historic port, originally called Munidowaning or "Den of the Manitou" by the Ojibway, was Manitoulin's fist European settlement. Founded in 1835 by the government of Upper Canada the annual gift-giving site of thousands of Treat Lakes Indians. Manitowaning today is home to St. Paul's. Built in 1848, it is the oldest Anglican Church in Northern Ontario.
Little Current came next. Known to the Ojibway as Waibejewung or "Where the waters flow back and forth" and to the French as Le Petit Courant, the port was once the site of a Hudson's Bay Company post.
Little Current, which is located on an island, has one of the best and most protected harbours along the North Shore. It was also one of the few ports to be reached by a railroad, but only after a railway bridge linking Manitoulin to the North Shore became a reality in 1913. Automobile owners, however, would have to wait until 1945 to drive to the mainland only after the old swing bridge was modified to permit car traffic.
The first two stops for the Norgoma on the second day of her weekly run were Kagawong and Gore Bay. Kagawong was a lumber town that once had two dozen lumber mills operating in the area. Here, while freight was being unloaded, passengers could follow the walkway to the beautiful Bridal Veil Falls. And then it was on to Gore Bay, the judicial seat of the District of Manitoulin.
Nicknames the "Tin Horn Town" after its famous brass band, which often entertained the Norgoma's passengers. Gore Bay, with its genteel old houses and tree lined streets was a favourite stop along the Turkey Trail.
The first ports of call on Wednesday were at the western end of Manitoulin where the Norgoma visited Meldrum Bay and Cockburn Island. Named for a market town in his native Scotland by a homesick Queen's Surveyor, Meldrum Bay was once a properous fishing village complete with a mill that made fish-packing boxes. A highlight of the Norgoma's stop at what was once known as "Fish Box Bay" was the Net Shed Museum. Built in 1907 and one of Manitoulin Island's oldest museums, it was filled with fishing, logging,and pioneer artefacts.
Today, Cockburn Island is a summer haven for cottagers. But when the Norgoma made it a brief stop, the Island still had a few farmers and fishermen, a post office and general store.
Next the Norgoma would cross the North Channel to visit the ports of Thessalon on the North Shore and Hilton Beach and Richards Landing on St. Joseph Island. The site of a 17th century Indian encampment Thessalon was originally called Point aux Thessalons by early French explorers. Founded in the 1870's,Thessalon became one of the earliest ports of call on the Turkey Trail. Known for its mills that produced square-cut timbers, it was regularly visited by schooners and steamers.
Historic St. Joseph Island at the mouth of the St. Mary's River provided the final two stops before the Sault. Originally the site of a British fort, constructed in 1794, St. Joseph Island was home to Richards Landing, a farming and lumber village that was, for many years, an important shipping centre along the Turkey Trail.
At 6:30 on Wednesday evening he Norgoma would arrive at the dock in Sault Ste. Marie. Founded in 1769, the "Soo" was a fur-trading post and a major transportation gateway to the west. Here, passengers could tour the city and take in an evening movie.
On Thursday, the Norgoma proceeded through the "Soo Locks" to Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior and then back to the Sault. By 2:00 p.m. she was on her homeward cruise.
Friday saw the steamer repeat her outward voyage with a 10:00 a. m. stop at Kagawong where passengers and crew could attend a special church service regularly conducted for the Norgoma at the Anglican Church of St. John the Evangelist.
By Saturday, the Norgoma was back in Owen Sound where she discharged her passengers.
Two days later, with a new manifest of freight and a full load of new passengers the Norgoma would begin another round of visits to the towns along the Turkey Trail.