British Columbia Lake & River Service
and the Crow Boat Service (2 of 6)

The S.S. Moyie being built at Nelson in 1898
B.C. Archives photo: E-09161

Surveys along Kootenay Lake showed that railway construction was going to be excessively expensive and the CPR decided instead to operate a steamer service between Kootenay Landing and Nelson until such time as traffic justified the railway. Elegant passenger, mail and express steamers provided the passenger service and tugs and barges moved railcars of freight. It was an efficient and well-run service. In 1898, the CPR built the new sternwheeler Moyie for the Crowsnest Route and the Minto and Rossland for the Columbia River service.

The Moyie and the Minto were originally ordered for service on the Stikine River but were diverted to the Kootenays when they were not needed on the Stikine. They proved to be sturdy, reliable and well-built steamers. Their hulls were of composite--steel and wooden--construction. The Moyie was built at the CPR shipyard at Nelson and the Minto was built at Nakusp. The passenger accommodations of each vessel featured a large dining saloon, a smoking lounge, a ladies' saloon and overnight cabins. The cabins were elegantly decorated and highlighted with gold leaf throughout. In the dining saloon, the table service included beautiful linens, quality china and full silverware. Passenger services were fully equivalent to the Canadian Pacific's passenger trains operating on the main line across the country.

The SS Rossland, the SS Minto and and the SS Trail at Arrowhead, 1898
Photo: R.H. Trueman
B.C. Archives photo: A-00572

When service began on the Crowsnest Route, the trains operated just three times a week and did not include dining cars. Passengers had meals at restaurants along the way at Crowsnest or Fernie. An overnight stop was made at Cranbrook before passengers travelled on to Kootenay Landing where they boarded a sternwheeler, either the Moyie or the Nelson, to travel on to Nelson. The Moyie, with a large dining saloon, also provided an important meal service for passengers travelling by rail. However, by the early 1900s, meals were provided on the trains. Very soon service became daily. The Moyie took three and one half hours to five hours, depending on the connections and need for speed, for service between Kootenay Landing and Nelson, a distance of about 55 miles (88 km).

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