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Rosevear Ferry

The Rosevear Ferry in 1939. Photo by Alberta Transportation.

Rosevear Ferry

For more than 100 years, the Rosevear Ferry was an important transportation method and aspect of the community until its closure in 2015. Learn more about this iconic ferry at the Rosevear exhibit!

Ferries in the Area

In 1905, when Alberta became a province, the provincial Department of Public Works began to build ferries to improve current transportation, as ferries were a much cheaper alternative to bridges.

Three ferries were built and operated along the McLeod in this area:

 

  • McLeod Valley Ferry (1912-1955);

  • Rosevear Ferry (1914-2015);

  • Mahaska Ferry (1918-1954).

Aerial view of Rosevear ferry site

Aerial view of the McLeod River at the Rosevear site. Photo courtesy of Tyler & Carrie Nycz.

How did the Rosevear Ferry come to be?

Ferry wheel

The Rosevear Ferry came to be after the district petitioned the province to build a bridge across the river.

Despite support, Rosevear was 65th on the list of bridge requests, meaning one would not be placed there for a while.

 

Instead, a ferry was placed along the river bend.

Rosevear Ferry machinery. Photo courtesy of Deb

Weber.

The Original Rosevear Ferry

Breakup of 1956: A Harrowing Escape

The most frightening accident to occur as a result of the ferry was during the Spring Break-Up of 1956, when Colleen Wenger, daughter of ferryman Mike Iwanciwski, recalled an ice jam that almost swept her family and home down the river.

That day, Mike went down to the ferry (which was located in front of their house) to snap some pictures of the melt, but the ice broke up and the ferry started drifting away.

Meanwhile, water from the break-up started to flood their home. Colleen and her family fled to the roof and her grandparents clung onto a broken tree for dear life.

But then a miracle happened: a 30-foot wall of ice slid between the ferry and the house, stopping the flow of rushing water and allowing Mike to reunite with his family.

Rosevear Ferry spring break-up

Photo courtesy of Colleen Wenger. 

Bleriot to Rosevear: A New Ferry

Rosevear Ferry workers

In 1971, the provincial government posed a threat to the community of Rosevear as there was talk of ceasing the operation of the ferry indefinitely. The residents of the area petitioned the government to keep the ferry running as it was still being used for transportation and was also a local landmark that tourists were traveling to see.

The government complied with the request, although the ferry would have to undergo much needed maintenance. A group of government employees and 

community volunteers spent the next two decades replacing old parts of the vessel.

Sam Cooper and Jill Mahoney working on the 'new' ferry. Photo courtesy of

Jill Mahoney.

Despite the efforts to 

keep the old ferry going, a ‘new’ ferry would ultimately replace the original. This ferry (called the Edmonton) first operated in 1969 at the Bleriot Ferry site, located on the Red Deer River near Drumheller.

 

The vessel began operating at Rosevear in 1997 after the Bleriot site acquired a 

new ferry. Bleriot’s ‘trash’ was 

Rosevear’s treasure – the new ferry was larger, 

more durable 

and had a hydraulic system to lift and load the ferry. 

See our in-person virtual tour for more information!

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