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Ship's artifacts to be donated to museum

Hayley Brigg

While it's fate may lie in a scrap yard, it's reassuring to know that at least some pieces of the MS Lord Selkirk will live on.

Shaylene Nordal, manager of the Marine Museum of Manitoba, says that the current owners of the MS Lord Selkirk II have promised to donate several artifacts from the condemned ship to the museum.

"We've been in talks with them and it was the owners that approached us about the donation," said Nordal. "I think it's great that we are going to be able to get some of these artifacts to incorporate into our museum."

While she isn't sure at the moment what pieces of the former Lake Winnipeg cruise liner will be salvaged, Nordal expects some of the objects could include the ship's building plaque, as well as it's wheel.

The MS Lord Selkirk II was built in 1969 as a replacement for cruise liner the MS Keenora. After sailing both Lake Winnipeg and the Red River for 21 years, the boat was retired in the Selkirk Slough in 1990, where it has sat vacant and unused for the past 10.

It was announced earlier this summer that the ship had been sold to a foreign company, and would be dismantled for scrap at some point this year.

However, unlike the MS Keenora, the MS Lord Selkirk II won't be rescued by the Marine Museum.

Nordal explains that the museum simply doesn't have the funds to finance either the ship's move to their site at the mouth of Selkirk Park, nor it's continued upkeep.

"We'd been approached by it's former owners a long time ago to take it on, but the bottom line is the money just wasn't there,," said Nordal. "As much as we would have wanted it to be part of our museum, it just wasn't part of the plan."

While she admits the museum could have applied - and likely been accepted - for a grant to fund bringing the ship on land, Nordal says it would have been the constant upkeep that would prove to be the most costly.

"We're non-profit, and we're operating on a year-to-year basis right now as it is. The upkeep for a boat like that would have been very expensive," said Nordal. "It's true that we could get a grant to help us out, but we'd still be having to pay money for maintenance."

Nordal adds it also wouldn't be fair to channel funds away from the museum's other ships to maintain the MS Lord Selkirk II, arguing that other boats in the museum's collection, like the MS Keenora, are more historic to Manitoba's waterways.

Though there has been no specific date set for when the museum will receive artifacts from the MS Lord Selkirk II, Nordal says they plan to use the pieces to create a display that will hopefully pay homage to one of Manitoba's greatest cruise liners.

"It's a shame to see (the MS Lord Selkirk II) go, because at one point it was the biggest and most exciting cruise ship on the waters here in Manitoba," said Nordal. "But hopefully by getting some of those artifacts and making up a display with photos, we'll be able to preserve a bit of that history."

Another person who is looking to keep the memory of the MS Lord Selkirk II alive is Winnipegger Adrian Ames.

Ames, who captains the Paddlewheel Queen riverboat, has been collecting information about the MS Lord Selkirk II for years and has recently started up a website in the ship's honour.

"I've always been really interested in the history of all the boats here in Manitoba, and I wanted to share the information that I had with other people," explained Ames. "And I thought since the MS Lord Selkirk II was going to be dismantled for scrap, I could help preserve some of it's history through the website."

Ames's website, http://lordselkirk2.com, boasts chronological information about the history of the vessel, photographs, as well as old brochures and ticket stubs from the MS Lord Selkirk II's voyages.

Ames is encouraging anyone with testimonials, photographs, souvenirs, or additional history to contact him via the website, so he can share as much information as possible with the public about the MS Lord Selkirk II.

"It's just too bad that nothing could be done to save it, because it really was a fantastic ship," said Ames.



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