City of Sault Ste. Marie to review options for Norgoma ship future

Sault Ste. Marie council is weighing its options in the fate of the M.S. Norgoma.

SAULT STE. MARIE—It will be at least several weeks before the future of the M.S. Norgoma is clear as the city of Sault Ste. Marie is reviewing all its options for the future of the ship that at one time plied waters around Manitoulin Island.

“We’re looking at some options,” Thomas Vair, deputy CAO of the City of Sault Ste. Marie told The Expositor when contacted last week. “We are back looking at all options for the vessel.”

This comes after Port Colborne resident Jeff Dwor had informed the city recently that he no longer has an interest in the vessel. He explained he has provided information and contacts of all those he has talked to in regards to the ship and said he is hopeful this will conclude with a sale of the ship and not the alternative.

Mr. Dwor told The Expositor he had two people indicate their interest in buying the ship in the spring, but he was not clear whether they will be able to buy the vessel.

“We have a couple of groups that we have talked to that have expressed interest,” said Mr. Vair. “They have both asked for more time to put things together and we expect that within about three weeks time, we will hear from them.”

The M.S. Norgoma has remained docked west of Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie since the city approved the sale of the vessel to Mr. Dwor in January of 2022. Mr. Dwor had been hoping to keep the ship alive, not have it demolished.

“I would like someone to do something similar to what I had originally wanted to do with the ship,” Mr. Dwor told The Expositor. “I thought it would be interesting to turn the ship into almost like a residence with apartments on the top two levels of the ship and the bottom level would be wonderful for people to have some commercial space available to them. I would still like it to be on the water; if it locates on land, then it just becomes typical, but if a portion of the ship remains in the water (with the apartments and commercial space) it makes it much more unique.”

The City of Sault Ste. Marie had acquired the Norgoma in 1975 after the Chi-Cheemaun came into service and conveyed it to the St. Mary’s River Marine Heritage Centre in 1981 to allow the centre to continue to operate it as a museum ship and tourist attraction.

For many years, the Norgoma, which served as a ship museum in the city’s downtown waterfront, struggled to survive.

The vessel was reconveyed to the city in 2019.

The 185-foot-long vessel had at one time served as a means of transportation between Owen Sound and Sault Ste. Marie and as a car ferry between Tobermory and South Baymouth.