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Bon voyage, MS Lord Selkirk II

Hayley Brigg

Manitoba's largest retired passenger ship, the MS Lord Selkirk II, will no longer sail the province after it was decided that the former cruise liner will be dismantled later this year for scrap.

Selkirk Deputy Mayor Marlene Cook has confirmed that the ship, which has been docked at the end of the slough near Selkirk Park since its retirement in 1986, has been sold to an international buyer and will be torn down sometime in the next few months.

"It was recently sold to a company or a buyer in China, I believe," said Cook, who did not know the actual name of the company. "We know that they are currently waiting on a company in Winnipeg to come out and dismantle it, but from we (at Selkirk council) know that company isn't ready to come do it just yet."

Prior to the final sale, Cook has been very vocal at council over what should be done with the ship which she says is both an eyesore and a danger to the community.

She estimates that in the 25 years that it has been sitting in the slough, there has been nearly $1 million in damages done to the ship via vandalism and theft.

"It's been there for a very long time, too long, and it's a hazard having it there," Cook complained. "For the last three years, they've been paying security guards to watch to make sure kids aren't going on it. It's close to the shore so the kids will jump on the ship and take things from it, as well as start fires."

Cook said council has been trying to have something done with the ship for years, but had been unable to do anything because they don't have the authority to demand that the ship be moved. Because the boat is in the water, Cook says it's either the responsibility of the owner or the federal department of Oceans and Fisheries.

"We've spoken to Oceans and Fisheries about this, because it's become a problem over the years. Selkirk isn't being paid any kind of dockage fees to have it here, and I just think it looks really bad to have it sitting there," said Cook. "But we haven't received any kind of help from the federal government."

Though she is happy to hear that the ship will finally be removed (albeit piece by piece) from the slough, Cook is concerned as to how the dismantling will take place.

"I think it would be dangerous for them to do it right there in the slough, I don't think that they would be able to," said Cook, adding it would also be difficult to move the ship to a dry dock. "The water is so low where it's sitting that the slough would have to be dredged to get it out of there, and Oceans and Fisheries tell us that they have no plans to do that anytime soon."

Though the ship is now rusted and broken, it was once one of the most popular passenger cruise ships in Manitoba. Built in 1969 to replace the retired MS Kenora, the MS Lord Selkirk II sailed down the Red River and into Lake Winnipeg for 17 years before being retired in 1986.

Over the course of its career, the ship carried thousands of passengers on multiple-day excursions to Lake Winnipeg, and even boasted a game room, dining room, and a lounge where guests could enjoy live entertainment.

Some of its more prestigious passengers over the years included Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family, who sailed on the ship in 1970.

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