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The Sternwheeler Gleaner

by Murray Lundberg

    The information on the Gleaner that follows is simply a cut-and-paste from my database, compiled from a wide variety of sources, primarily the White Pass & Yukon Route corporate records (COR 722) at the Yukon Archives and newspapers including the Bennett Sun (BS), Whitehorse Star (Star), Skaguay Daily Alaskan (SDA) and Atlin Claim (Claim). The Yukon River sternwheeler Gleaner in about 1906, probably on Tagish Lake
  • Canadian Shipping Registry #107526

  • wooden sternwheeler; 113.0 feet long, with 24.6 foot beam and 5.5 foot hold. Gross tonnage 241.09, registered as 149.05 tons. Three decks, carvel build, straight head and square stern, with 3 bulkheads. Licenced for 150 passengers, with accommodation for 24.

  • engine room was 19 feet long, housing 2 horizontal high-pressure engines, built in 1899 by Marine Iron Works of Chicago; the engines were 2 cylinder, with cylinder diameter of 9 inches, and 36 inch stroke, developing 5.4 NHP.

  • 1899, built at Lake Bennett by the John Irving Navigation Company Ltd. Affleck says she was built for the Irving-Spencer Navigation Company.

  • June 4, 1899: "Lake Bennett is slowly rising and word is that the steamer Gleaner, Captain John Irving's boat, would try and get into the water and start for a trip to Atlin today. That is if the weather was favorable, which gives every indication of modifying. The water in Lake Bennett lacked eight inches of being high enough to permit launching the steamers. Should the weather turn warm and should the rise of eight inches of water he reached by tomorrow, Capt. Bailey and the Canadian Development Company will make an attempt to launch their respective boats, namely, the Bailey and Australian. The water at Cariboo Crossing is reported so low that it can be waded, and no steamer could possibly pass there at present. A rise of several feet will be required to make this crossing navigable." (Skagway Daily Alaskan)

  • June 10, 1899, there is only 20 inches of water running through the Caribou Narrows, making a tricky crossing (Atlin Claim).

  • September 9, 1899, running from Bennett to Taku on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Irving was in competition on this run with 2 smaller boats, the BL&K's OLIVE MAY, and Captain Johnson's MABEL F. (Skagway Daily Alaskan).

  • July 6 1899, with the AUSTRALIAN and CLIFFORD SIFTON, standing by at the WP&YR spike-driving ceremony at Bennett. The AUSTRALIAN and GLEANER had brought 200 Klondikers to Bennett; loaded with $500,000 in gold, they were headed outside.

  • early July 1899, took the first development party to stake the future Engineer Mine; a group of 22 White Pass surveyors had backed the original discoverers, a pair of Swedes (Alaskan Magazine, March 1900).

  • August 2, 1899, brought $240,000 in gold from Atlin, to be transferred to a pack train to Skagway (BS,Aug.5).

  • August-September 1899, having a series of breakdowns of unknown character (Dept.of Interior, 1900, p.29).

  • ca. September 23 1899, Captain Irving also brought out, for free, the first 5-ton shipment from the Engineer Mine.

  • April 1 1901, all 17 CDCo. steamers were bought by the British Yukon Navigation Company; this included 3 Stikine River boats, 4 lake boats, and 10 Yukon River steamers.

  • 1901, tentative plans were made to run the GLEANER through Miles Canyon if business did not warrant having both her and the AUSTRALIAN on the lake (Star,May 1).

  • August 29th, 1902, WP&YR Vice-President Newell led a VIP tour from Whitehorse to Atlin. Read an article from The Weekly Star here.
  • 1903 season: used .65 cords of wood per hour.
  • 1903 season crew: Master, Thomas Richards; mate, Thomas Brown; steward and purser, Harry M. Price; chief engineer, "Jack" Kelly (who remained as Chief Engineer through the 1908 season).
  • 1904, the entire machinery from the CLIFFORD SIFTON, wrecked at Dawson, was installed; fuel consumption was cut to .30 cords of wood per hour, and she can now run from Taku to Caribou in 7 hours. Twelve berths were also added, and the galley moved to the Texas deck. Total cost of the improvements was $8,300.39 (COR722).
  • 1905 season: the Gleaner is in the water at Carcross over the winter, the Australian on the ways. Gleaner used 434.75 cords of wood (93 on extra trips), which cost $1989.90 total. Consumption .37 cords per hour. Served 11,208 meals at an average cost of $0.4208. Her first trip started May 29, her last trip ended at Carcross November 1. The Gleaner at Conrad City, a silver mining centre on Windy Arm of Tagish Lake, in 1906.
  • 1906 season crew: Master, Thomas Richards; mate, J.McDonald; chief engineer, "Jack" Kelly; second engineer, A.Browne; steward, William Betty; watchman, A.S.Wilson; purser, Geoff Butler; plus 2 firemen, 6 deckhands. Butler was made Assistant to the B.C.Mining Recorder during the 1906 Windy Arm boom, recording claims primarily for men at Wynton.
  • 1906 season: Gleaner and barge Taku are at Wynton over the winter. She used 545.25 cords of wood, costing $2460.20 total. Consumption .37 cords per hour. Served 11,385 meals at an average cost of $0.4055. Left Carcross on May 31, tied up on November 2.
  • COR 724 has Master's Trip Reports for some 1906 trips.
  • 1907 season: Gleaner and Australian both on Carcross ways over winter. Gleaner used 411.5 cords of wood (11 cords on extra trips), costing $1854.05 total. Served 9854 meals, at an average cost of $0.4313. She left Carcross June 4, was tied up October 31.

  • June 5, 1908: "The Atlin season was duly inaugurated last night when the B. Y. N. steamer Gleaner left Carcross for the portage where she will connect with the steamer Scotia for Atlin. The Gleaner left from the bar about a mile below Carcross the water at the landing not yet being sufficiently deep for navigation." (Whitehorse Star)

  • 1908 season: Gleaner in the water at Carcross over the winter. Used 398.75 cords of wood (18 cords on extra trips) at a cost of $1883.85 total. Served 10,245 meals at an average cost of $0.4390. Left Carcross June 4, tied up on October 29; the last trip was not successful, turned back by heavy ice.

  • 1909 season crew: Master, Thomas Richards; mate, Roberts; second mate, McLeod; chief engineer, James Lauderdale; purser, (John?) Phillips. On September 8, 1909, 28-year-old waiter George Pike died of an accidental gunshot wound near Atlin.

  • 1909 season: spent the winter in the water at Carcross. Her boiler was condemned, and was replaced by the one from the BAILEY. She used 302.75 cords of wood (20 cords on extra trips), costing $1441.80 total. Consumption with the new boiler down to .27 cords per hour. Served 11,223 meals at an average cost of $0.4173. She left Carcross on June 11, tied up October 25.

  • 1910 season: in the water at Carcross over the winter. She used 325.5 cords of wood (19 on extra trips), costing $1471.70 total. Consumption .25 cords per hour. Served 10,300 meals, costing an average of $0.4949. She left Carcross on June 14, tied up on October 27.

  • 1915-1916, wintered on the ways at Carcross (COR722).

  • 1916, the galley was moved from the Saloon deck to the main deck; the Saloon location was converted to 4 passenger rooms (COR722).

  • 1916-1917, main BYN ways moved to their present location near the railroad at Carcross; the others, 3-4 miles below town, became known as the Australian ways.

  • 1917, launched on March 17th, the earliest ever.

  • July 1917, GLEANER put on the newly-extended ways when the TUTSHI was put into service; TUTSHI wintered in the water.

  • 1918, not put into service.

  • 1919, operated until July 1, when the TUTSHI was floated off the bar where she had grounded on her last trip in the fall.

  • 1920-1922, not put into service.

  • n.d., a model of the GLEANER was built by 2 boys from Herschel Island who were attending Choutla School (YA: Stringer collection, PHO 378, #160).

  • 1923, in service from August 26 until October 28, hauling materials from the new Marsh Lake dam, "between Carcross and the damsite below Marsh Lake." (COR722) The wreckage of the Yukon River sternwheeler Gleaner at Nares Lake in May 2001

  • 1924-1925, wintered at the Marsh Lake Dam (COR722).

  • 1932, sidetracked at Carcross ways to make more room for the TUTSHI; removed from BYN inventory (COR723).

  • ca. 1936, still on the beach at Carcross (photo at YA: McCombe collection, #88/127, #56).

  • scuttled in Nares Lake, probably to act as a wingdam to channel the water through the lake for the Tutshi, which ran until 1955. During extreme low water in 2001, her wreckage was all above the water - see the photo to the right, and several more on the following page.

To the Gleaner Photo Album

Roster of Yukon/Alaska Sternwheelers

Northern Ships and Shipping