Historic Sites of Manitoba: SS Alpha Shipwreck (RM of Victoria)

On 27 April 1885, the steamboat Alpha ran aground in a shallow area of the Assiniboine River, while travelling between Winnipeg and Brandon. It was abandoned and later stripped of its cargo and mechanical parts. In 1969, historian Roy Brown and others rediscovered the shipwreck submerged in the river, partially buried in the south bank, at 33-8-12W, in the Rural Municipality of Victoria. The location given here is approximate.

Pieces of the ship’s hull were salvaged. The rudder was initially displayed at the Cypress River Museum and later at the Marine Museum in Selkirk. Brown presented a piece of the ship to the Chamber of Commerce at Breckenridge, Minnesota where the ship had originally been constructed, in 1873. A model of the ship, made from a piece of recovered timber, was displayed at the Manitoba Agricultural Museum at Austin.

The SS Alpha

The SS Alpha (circa 1878)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Transportation - Boat - Alpha 1.

A man surveys the wreckage of the SS Alpha in the Assiniboine River

A man surveys the wreckage of the SS Alpha in the Assiniboine River (November 1958) by Chris Vickers
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Transportation - Boat 8.

Wreckage of the SS Alpha

Wreckage of the SS Alpha (2003)
Source: Ken Storie

Rudder of the SS Alpha at the Marine Museum in Selkirk

Rudder of the SS Alpha at the Marine Museum in Selkirk (2003)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Approximate Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.69723, W99.03628
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Abandoned Manitoba


“Steamboats on the Assiniboine” by Roy Brown, Brandon Sun, 12 May 1979, page 9.

Steamboats on the Assiniboine by Roy Brown, 1981 [reprinted 2007 by Daly House Museum].

The Alpha Revisited, False Starts: Settlement Stories From Western Manitoba by Ken Storie

We thank Ken Storie for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 6 June 2020

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