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Atlin Lake sternwheeler Scotia

by Murray Lundberg

Northern Ships and Shipping

    Please note that, at present, much of the information below is merely an accumulation of data, part of a 700-page database of material on all Yukon-Alaska boats compiled by Murray Lundberg. Additions, corrections or comments are always welcome - just drop Murray a note. Some of the information is from corporate and government records at the Yukon Archives, referenced as COR and GOV file numbers).

  • Canadian Shipping Registry #107829, registered at Victoria.

  • wooden sternwheeler; 80.0 feet long, with 19.0 foot beam and 3.5 foot hold. Gross tonnage 214.07, registered as 134.87 tons. One deck, carvel build, upright stem head and square stern. Licenced for 100 passengers, with accommodation for 6. The Atlin Claim reported an all-cedar cabin with 12 berths (June 10, 1899).

  • engine room was 16 feet long, housing a pair of horizontal high-pressure steam engines built in 1899 by the Marine Iron Works of Chicago; the cylinders were 7 1/2 inch diameter, 28 inch stroke, developing 3.75 NHP, 80 IHP.

  • 1899, built at Chicago, knocked down for transport to St. Michael. Captain John Irving saw her on the dock in Seattle and convinced the owners that she was not suitable for the Yukon River trade; he bought her, and between April 14 and June 8, 1899, assembled her at Taku for the John Irving Navigation Company.

  • June 8, 1899: The Scotia arrives at Atlin for the first time. "Another link in Atlin's history was the arrival at a late hour on Thursday evening of the pretty little stern-wheeler Scotia, captained by W. E. Spencer, who came in on the first trip of the Gleaner. It must be apparent to all that not much time was lost in completing the boat, for the first tap of work was done on April 14th and the finish took place on Thursday. No bottles were cracked at the launching, thye shoved her off without the princely function of dripping champagne over her bow, for the mad yell for freight would permit of no loss of time for such frivolous mockery. On arrival at her destination the Atlinites assembled en masse and welcomed the new carrier and her gallant captain with a string band playing the Star Spangled Banner. Captain Spencer was called on and he thanked the citizens for their well-wishing and made reference to his being lonesome on the lake at present, but hoped for company later on in the summer when the Atlin river was less difficult to navigate. A CLAIM man stepped aboard after the "sprits" had departed and had a chat with the captain.
        'Tired to death,' said the captain, making his way into the cabin. 'Working like niggers trying to get her off the ways and we succeeded at 8 o'clock last evening. Then we piled the freight on, left and arrived here at 11 o'clock'.
        All the material for construction came from Portland and was brought in in March. The boat is 80 feet long with a 20-foot beam, 70 tons carrying capacity and her engines 80 horse-power. The aabin is all cedar and the number of berths 12.'
        'Yes, there are lots of people at Bennett, and most of them ridiculed the idea of us making Cariboo Crossing.'
        Captain Spencer is a Portland man, a web-footer and a good fellow with all, and the CLAIM's best wishes are success to the Scotia and the John Irving Navigation Company." (Atlin Claim, June 10)

  • June 10, 1899: "The Scotia leaves Russell's wharf at the foot of Lake and Pearl at 10 a.m. o'clock today for Taku to connect with the Gleaner for Bennett." (Atlin Claim)

  • June 24, 1899, The Atlin Claim, in Vol. 1, No. 9, publishes its first list of passengers arriving on the Scotia. There were 32 people on June 18th, 12 on June 20th, and 11 on June 22nd.

  • June 24, 1899: "Capt. Spencer of the steamer Scotia has been notified that rates on the Nora from Atlin to Bennett are $25 with meals and $22.50 without meals. Rates on the Gleaner will remain as they are at present." (Atlin Claim)

  • 1900, seems to have been bought by the Canadian Development Company.

  • June 28, 1900, Captain Wallace Langley moves from the Scotia to the Australian, and Captain Rhody took over the Scotia (Atlin Claim, June 30)

  • April 1, 1901, all 17 Canadian Development Company steamers were bought by the British Yukon Navigation Company; this included 3 Stikine River boats, 4 lake boats, and 10 Yukon River steamers. Affleck says that the Scotia was not sold until May 29, 1902.

  • April 18, 1901: "Capt. T. Richards and James Roberts are at the Occidental in Skagway. They leave this morning for Log Cabin, from which point they will mush into Atlin. They go at this time to get the steamers Gleaner and Scotia ready for the season's work beiween Atlin and Caribou. The Scotia will ply from Lake Atlin and way ports to the portage and the Gleaner will run between Caribou and Taku City. There is some talk of transferring one or both boats to the Upper Yukon. Captain Richards will be in command of the Gleaner and probably Capt. Lawrence of the Scotia." (White Horse Star)

  • May 14, 1901, Captain Thomas Lawrence passed through White Horse on his way to Atlin to take command of the Scotia.

  • 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 crew: Master, Thomas Lawrence; mate, J. McDonald; purser and steward, Geoff Butler; chief engineer, Daniel Sullivan. McDonald served on her for many years, and was known as "Scotia Mac" (MacBride).

  • December 15, 1903, the WP&YR applied to the Customs office at Whitehorse for a refund of the $86.96 paid for the Scotia's annual Inspection Certificate; in late April, the fee had been eliminated (COR 1678, f.11-1).

  • October 1907 crew: Master, W.T. Bragg; Mate, C. Smith; Chief Engineer, W.H. Turnbull; Steward, W. Dodd; plus 1 fireman and 2 deckhands (COR 724).

  • 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)

  • November 13, 1908, Captain Bragg of the Scotia has left for the Outside, and the boat's engineer, Dan Sullivan, has left for his old home in Wales. (Whitehorse Star)

  • 1909 season crew: Master, Jack McDonald; mate, Campbell; chief engineer, Daniel Sullivan; steward, Rowlinson.

  • 1916, permanent ways built at Atlin for the Scotia and the barge Atlin.

  • 1918, replaced by the Tarahne during the fall bad weather; "the Scotia, never a good sea boat at her best, is now getting old and it is not safe to use her any more in the fall." (COR722).

  • fall 1918, beached at Atlin.

  • July 23, 1921: a poem in The Weekly Star says "Auld Scotia still is going strong, And she's as wet as ever." It's not certain, however, that it's the boat that's being being described.

  • 1929-1932, on the ways at Atlin.

  • June 5, 1942, being used as housing: "Capt. A. Worley is the new skipper for the White Pass boat Norgold, running between Atlin and Taku with a scow for the freighting. The engineer is Ed. Holden. They both seem very much struck with the beautiful lake and their new quarters, the old beached Scotia boat." (Whitehorse Star)

  • June 22, 1967: "The once smart looking vessel "S.S. Scotia," owned by White Pass, which plyed back and forth between Atlin and Scotia Bay for many years, has now been destroyed. For many years this boat had been rotting on the beach in front of town and abvout a month ago the Forest Ranger, Dept. of Highway and others set fire to "Scotia" and burned her to the ground. All that remained was the boiler and smoke stack." (Whitehorse Star)

Scotia at Atlin ca. 1899. Peele album #92.
Scotia at Atlin ca. 1899. Peele album #92.

Scotia with barge Atlin, 1906. Photo by Muirhead.
Scotia with barge Atlin, 1906. Photo by Muirhead. Yukon Archives #4619B.

Scotia at Scotia Landing. Photo by Anton Vogee.
Scotia at Scotia Landing. Photo by Anton Vogee. Yukon Archives #249.

Map of the wintering location of the Scotia, 1905-1906.
Map of the wintering location of the Scotia, 1905-1906. Section of Yukon Archives map H-2322. Drawn by Thomas H. Brown, Watchman.

Scotia in about 1913. Photo by Bruce Watson.
Scotia in about 1913. Photo by Bruce Watson, published in The Whitehorse Star on June 22, 1967.

Scotia on Atlin Lake. Photo by Callarman.
Scotia on Atlin Lake. Photo by Callarman. Yukon Archives #4044.

Scotia and Tarahne at Atlin, 1953.
Scotia and Tarahne at Atlin, 1953.