Artifacts from sunken steamship recovered

By Darren Bernhardt

To the uninitiated, the items look like rusted junk found in a scrapyard or at the bottom of a river.

The tangled and encrusted objects on display in a Saskatoon boardroom Friday were in fact pulled from the South Saskatchewan River's sandy riverbed, but they may be much more than clutter.

They may be a century-old link to this city's greatest marine disaster.

The SS City of Medicine Hat sank on June 7, 1908, when it struck the newly built Traffic Bridge and capsized. The 40-metre long, flat-bottomed sternwheeler had been destined for Winnipeg after having departed from its namesake city in late May.

Several steamships that previously plied those waterways also encountered difficulties, mostly becoming marooned on shifting sandbars.

It was the Medicine Hat's fateful voyage, however, that put an exclamation point on the end the steamship era in Saskatoon.

Labelled by the local press of the time as "The Greatest Marine Disaster in the History of Saskatoon," the incident eventually drifted into history.

It resurfaced in August 2006 when members of the Saskatoon Fire and Protective Services dive team found a five-foot, 150-pound cast-iron anchor about 300 metres north of the Traffic Bridge.


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