Owner had wanted to run marijuana cruises with the boat
It was once a fixture on Winnipeg's rivers, but the Paddlewheel Princess is now about to be chopped up and sold for scrap.
The cruise ship, which for years carried 200 passengers per trip on lazy runs up and down Manitoba rivers, was damaged beyond repair by fire in Selkirk earlier this year and the ship's current owner hopes to recoup whatever profit he can from the boat by selling it for scrap.
"I have no choice, I mean, it's sitting in federal waterways and it'd be a matter of time until the federal government would come after me to get it out of there," said Philip Rowan, of his decision to scrap the boat and sell it for parts.
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Rowan, 63, says he's semi-retired and decided to buy the boat for $190,000 last spring with the intention of running "Bob Marley cruises" at night, where passengers would be able to smoke marijuana while touring the city's river system.
"It's going to be legal … you'd have every marijuana-freak in town on that thing," said Rowan of his plan. "The only way you can make money on the thing is to have it out on the river."
But that plan went up in smoke in May when a fire tore through the boat while it was moored in Selkirk. Police eventually charged four teens in connection to the blaze.
Rowan said the boat's previous owner, Steve Hawchuk, had done a lot of the work needed to get the Paddlewheel Princess back to its former glory, including adding a new engine, new propellers, and a new drive shaft. Rowan figures he would have had to spend another $100,000 for new paint and things like windows to get it back into the water for his pot-powered river trips.
"There was nothing serious, mechanically it was straight," he said.
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Rowan had hoped to have the cruise ship back in operation by this June or July and had cancelled his insurance for the winter. He says he'd gone to get the boat reinsured three days before the fire, but it was still uninsured when it went up in flames.
Rowan hopes to have the boat cut up and scrapped in the next two weeks, but work has to be done to remove asbestos before the demolition can start.
Rowan has had to hire an environmental company to make sure the process is done safely, a septic company and a welding crew to get the work done before a wrecking crew comes in to crush the pieces that will finally be hauled into Winnipeg. Rowan hopes to have the work done by the end of September.
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He estimates the total cost to demolish and scrap the ship will be $50,000.
The Paddlewheel Princess was constructed in 1966, a year after Winnipegger Ray Senft built its sister ship, the Paddlewheel Queen.
Source: cbc Canada. 19 September 2017