British Columbia Lake & River Service
and the Crow Boat Service (3 of 6)
Traffic on the Crowsnest Route grew quickly and within a few years a vessel larger than the Moyie was needed on Kootenay Lake. In 1906, the wooden-hulled Kuskanook was built at the Nelson shipyards. This beautiful vessel could carry 400 passengers and was 194 feet (59 m) long, not including its huge sternwheel. The next year, a nearly identical sistership, the Okanagan was built for service on Okanagan Lake.
Traffic and the population of the Kootenays continued to grow rapidly in the years before the First World War. In 1911, the first of three even larger sternwheelers, the Bonnington, was built at Nakusp for the Columbia service. This was still the major travel route between the CPR main line at Revelstoke and the Kootenays and Crowsnest. The Bonnington was followed by the Nasookin in 1913 for the Crowsnest service on Kootenay Lake and in 1914 the trio was completed with the construction of the Sicamous on Okanagan Lake.
The SS Nasookin at Kootenay Landing in the 1920s
These massive, 200-foot (61-m) long by 40-foot (12.2 m) in breadth, sternwheelers had four decks for freight and passengers. They were licensed to carry 400 passengers. The Bonnington and Nasookin had over 50 staterooms and the Sicamous had 36 staterooms for overnight travel. Overall, their accommodations were very luxurious. Their dining saloons could seat 48-60 people at a time depending on the table arrangements. They were undoubtedly the finest steam vessels to operate on the inland waters of British Columbia and rivaled the famous Princess steamships of the Canadian Pacific's British Columbia Coast Steamship Service. The new sternwheelers had steel hulls but the cabins were built of Douglas-fir and Western Redcedar from the coast. Some hardwoods were used decoratively in the passenger lounges. The dining rooms had hardwood parquet floors and the ladies' lounges were richly carpeted. Massive engines turned the paddlewheels which drove the steamers at speeds up to about 20 miles (32 km) an hour.