Letter: Thoughts on the Norgoma


While scrolling through my Facebook feed last night, I came across a list of things the Bondar marina would be missing out on by removing the M.S Norgoma, and I have to say I am very impressed with what this new and energetic board is doing in an attempt to revitalize this space. Here are the following initiatives this board has come up with, as per their Facebook page:

1. Community partnerships to develop gardens on the Norgoma to assist in providing local food to local customers

2. Pay what you can Night Markets, providing fresh food to those struggling to acquire fresh, healthy food.

3. Open Mic Night’s providing space for local youth and emerging artists to showcase their talents.

4. Partnership with the Navy League and Sea Cadets to do restoration, training, drills, and events on board the Norgoma, providing a space for youth who are interested in Marine activities an actual ship to train aboard, and a venue for their 100th anniversary including an exhibit and ongoing exhibit development.

5. Fundraisers and events showcasing local small businesses and emerging artists providing space for them to showcase their wares and talents. As well as vendor space for local small businesses and artists to sell their wares and work.

6. Employment for youth within the Heritage Sector. Last year the Norgoma employed 11 students and partnered with March of Dimes and Community Living Algoma to provide employment for youth struggling to enter the workforce.

7. A local connection to Marine History and Heritage. The Bondar Marina is part of the North Shore Marina Tourism Council, which is mandated to bring tourism to the marina, which would suffer with the lack of a tourism attraction. Sault Ste Marie and communities along the North Shore benefited and were established thanks to the Norgoma and her sister ships. Loosing this is an oversight on 3 slip spaces for boaters who are not coming to Sault Ste Marie, especially considering our History has been burning down lately.

8. A local attraction situated beside docking Cruise Ships, willing and wanting to work to welcome them to our City. There has never been any discussion with the Norgoma to provide this service even though we have been willing and eager to do so.

9. Festivals and Events. The Norgoma had a list of events and festivals in the works, including those welcoming Newcomers and Immigrants to Sault Ste Marie, Arts, Culture, Film, Music, and many more.

10. A unique and interesting attraction that draws in Marine enthusiasts. During off season we have had 15 requests for tours of the Norgoma. The Norgoma is also only growing and is refreshing exhibits, cabins, and restoring the ship to its original condition.

11. A local film destination. We have signed a contract to allow for a feature film to be filming aboard the Norgoma. We are also listed as a scout able location on Ontario’s film location website, working with FutureSSM Film Coordinator.

12. A young, driven, productive, award winning team of new young board members, volunteers, and management who have turned the ship around in the past year. This is turning away young people from trying to stand up and make a difference.

I understand the ship has been stagnant for a number of years prior to this new board coming into play, but why aren’t we giving them a chance? I can see all of these ideas adding a lot of value to the Norgoma as well as the Bondar Pavilion area in general. Ask most young adults what one of our main challenges as a city is and they would likely tell you there is a general lack of things to do. In fact, one of the main focuses in the recent municipal election was youth outmigration, and we had most candidates acknowledge that adding to our culture would be a good way to address this. So again, why not embrace these ideas? I mean, an open mic on a boat? How many cities can boast that as an attraction? Also what message are we sending to younger people with ambitious ideas if we just turn away this group and their ideas without giving them a solid chance?

I would also like to add that as a city, I think we need to embrace our history a little bit more. I’ve been looking back into the history of Sault Ste Marie, and we actually have a rich and interesting story to tell. It would be a shame to see another piece of that story disappear.

Although I am not a member of the board, I will be contacting the city councilors in my ward to show my support for this group and their ideas. I encourage all who may be interested in supporting these ideas to do the same. When the most recent municipal election was over, we did see a significant change in city council, so maybe we can influence change when it comes to the fate of the M.S Norgoma as well.

– Mike McCLeary


  1. The superficial lipstick job they put on it last summer is already peeling off. Get the old eyesore out of there for good and be done with it.
    Enough is enough!

  2. Strange. Manitoulin Island is reconsidering reefing the much larger Norisle. This was ’bout all set and go. Outside groups and all. But they are having second thoughts. Maybe you should too?

  3. My kids were involved in the haunted norgoma event around halloween the past 2 years. When they were done each night, they absolutely stank. The lowest level of the ship is full of gross standing water causing mould & mildew. The ship could have been interesting a few devades ago before complete disrepair.
    The above mentioned list is wildly inaccurate, logistically unfeasible, and a daydreamer’s fantasy list.
    The ship is now past the point of no return because of city council’s lack of foresight, thought and open mind.
    The only reasonable option left is to strip it, detoxify it, make it temporarily floatable and then sink it as a dive site which would actually bring at least a handful of actual people here each year.
    It’s time for the city to realize and accept that the Soo is NOT a tourist destination but is a stopover at best.

  4. I was on the ship over the past summer. It is in extremely poor condition, with no adequate water, septic, electrical and safety standards. A restoration of any type would cost in the millions.

  5. When the city council does not have the forward looking vision to visualize clearly the historic value of this ship, what then becomes of everything else of value as well? No wonder tourism is an embarassment of low numbers, The city doesn’t see the posibilites that this group are developing for better use and exposure of the old girl. That is sad. If you don’t promote what you have, it will always fail. I sure hope everything possible can be done to keep her here.

    • @Arturo Webb – there is no history of significance with that ship. It served as a simple & standard ferry. They were a dime a dozen. Ships with significantly more actual histort have been scrapped and scuttled.

    • The Norgoma is a reminder of a proud bygone era like no other in our city, and that reminder is front and centre on our waterfront @sickofthenewscanada And every child who goes to the waterfront from now until forever has the chance to touch, and have their imaginations consumed by the ominous and overpowering size of this once powerful seagoing vessel. That is not nothing my @Sick friend even if all the Norgoma does is just sit there.

      That my friend is something.

      Take away the Norgoma and kids will only have the Internet and their screens to dream about being the captain of ships they see in the channel from afar, or working on these large vessels.

      But with the Norgoma in our city’s front yard, and a little bit of elbow grease and consistent work, and a reversal of City Counil’s decision to boot the Norgoma out its current downtown site, every child that walks along our downtown waterfront decide the Norgoma will have the real, physical opportunity to fulfill their seafaring dreams.

      Or at the very least ask questions about our city’s proud seafaring heritage.

      Reconsider your decision City Council.

      Do it for the kids.

      • @Mark Brown – the city is all but broke and coffers are running dry. The Norgoma is now beyond repair and stinks.
        What you have said, has already been said about multitudes of things in the Soo: Porter, the Gardens, buildings across the city, the water tower, etc etc ad nauseaum.
        The Norgoma actually spent more time as a MS outside of the Soo than for the Soo.
        These ships are exceedingly common, and as many many communities are found on the shores of all the great lakes as well as across the hundreds of islands across L Huron, Manitoulin, etc the Norgoma is simply not unique.
        Further, the Norgoma only ran for only 24 years, including the years not associated with SSM at all. There are many people in town driving older cars.
        This is a case of the nostalgia of a few inflating the actual historical significance of an item. When compared to other locations, the city’s proud seafaring heritage” is much milder and less involved. We’ve primarily been a stopover for freighters from other places.
        Further again, it’s entirely immature and unprofessional of you to manipulate a username into an insult. Perhaps this is why I’ve seen many of your initiates flounder – when you alienate people just because they have an opinion counter to yours.

    • Are you joking? The ship reeks inside. I can’t imagine eating nevermind preparing food inside it.
      I suggested a B&B to my councillors when I moved here 10 years ago and it was too far gone then.

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