A paddle steamer with a nearly 60-year career shipping people and supplies across British Columbia’s Kootenay Lake, the Moyie transported passengers in style.
Arriving in 1898, it was originally intended to be part of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s transportation system up to Dawson City, in the Yukon Territory where the Klondike Gold Rush had drawn up to 40,000 prospectors. However, the rail system failed to materialize, so the ship, originally built in Toronto, was used in the Kootenay region.
The Moyie and its sister ship the Minto each spent over half a century in the mountain lakes of southwestern B.C. servicing towns such as Balfour, Kaslo and Nelson. An all-around worker, Moyie spent some time as the only opportunity for dining on the train route early on and was considered a luxurious way to cross the water, but continued with a variety of duties including some time serving as a tugboat.
As the rail system evolved in the 1930s, the Moyie was left as the only vessel operated by the CPR on the Kootenay Lake. This still provided a fair amount of work as the lake is 105 km long and 3-5 km wide with 3 arms. At times it took over 200 people on “excursion trips” and provided relief work when the government ferries were out of service.
Retired in 1957 after 59 years of work, the ship was purchased by the Kootenay Lake Historical Society from CPR for $1 and restored to 1898 standards. The ship was beached in Kaslo on the northern arm of the lake and sits there to this day, a National Historical Site visited by thousands each year as an artifact, a museum of the area’s past and one of the last of its kind. The KHS website says the Moyie is “the world’s oldest intact passenger sternwheeler.”
Know Before You Go
The SS Moyie rests on the shore of Kootenay Lake on Front St. in downtown Kaslo, population about 1000.