For the traveler who couldn’t make a long ocean voyage during the early 1950s, there were still varied trips by water in the USA and Canada. Some were short one-day sails, while others took a week or more and led to some exciting adventures. Most were Canadian flag vessels.

From Duluth, to Miami, from New Orleans to Newfoundland, mainly pre-World War 2 ships, a verity of ocean liners, coastwise steamers, motor vessels, bay river and lake steamboats, freshly painted, served the retro fifties public.

Here are some of the travel choices for the fifties cruiser…


Three identical sister-ships, the St. Lawrence, Quebec and Tadoussac offered summer cruises in 1952, The three ships were all 350 feet in length, had a breadth of 70 feet, and were 8,000 tones GRT; the Richelieu was slightly smaller. They sailed on the St Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers, departing from Montreal and stopping at Quebec City, Murray Bay and Tadoussac (where the company owned hotels) and up the Saguenay to Bagotville (La Baie). 7 day cruises.

From the 1930’s until 1965 Canada Steamship Lines operated cruises from Montreal up the Saguenay River. These beautiful white ships were known as the “Great White Fleet”. One of the stops was Tadoussac. Here passengers could get off the ships for an hour or two and stroll into the town. Some elected to stay at the new (1942) Tadoussac Hotel that was owned by CSL.


For a trip off the proverbial peahen path, you could take one of the Clarke Line’s yacht-like ships, such as the North Gaspe from Montreal to the little towns down the St. Lawrence and up the Gulf Coast into the Minigan and Harrington areas.

A vessel of the Clarke Steamship Company, the North Gaspé supplied the villages on the North Shore of Quebec. The St Lawrence River, a pre-eminent shipping route and fundamental natural resource, saw many ships on its waters despite the war. Many remote regions, such as the North Shore, depended on boats for their supplies. Aboard the passenger vessels, there were as many passengers as there were reasons to travel.


You could take the “night boat” steamers City of Richmond and City of Norfolk between Baltimore and Norfolk. The vessels were old but solid, and the voyage up the Chesapeake Bay was one of relaxation and tranquility on the overnight run.


The two inland liners North America and South America left from Chicago and Buffalo for cruising on the Great Lakes.


The sternwheeler Delta Queen could take you from New Orleans on the Mississippi River.


Overnight from Vancouver to Victoria or Alaska Cruises or cruises on the East Coast.




About Michael L. Grace

During the mid-80s, Michael Grace worked as a writer on the TV Hit Series THE LOVE BOAT. He wrote many of the two hour special featuring great stars of the past, including Lana Turner, Claire Trevor, Anne Baxter, Ethel Merman, Alexis Smith, etc. The public’s access to these stars, in familiar dramas and comedies, made them want to go on a cruise. They could see the stars in an ordinary world as “regular” people. The phenomenally successful series was responsible for creating the cruise industry as we know it today. By the time he was writing for Love Boat, the great steamship companies and their liners were flying hand me down foreign flags, painted like old whores, scrapped or doing three day cruises to the Bahamas. He had sailed on over thirty ships and liners with his parents, aunt and grandmother in late 50s to early 70s. The very successful CRUISING THE PAST website has been an outgrowth of Michael’s strong interest in cruise and social history. Drawing on his own knowledge and a vast maritime and social history collection, he is able to produce a very successful website. Michael is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. He has written for television and films. Read more by going to "About" (on the above dashboard) and clicking "Editor"…