British Columbia Lake & River Service
and the Crow Boat Service (5 of 6)

SS Rossland, SS Minto and SS Trail at Arrowhead
B.C. Archives Photo: A-00572

On the Arrow Lakes, the steamer services continued through the 1920s but the Depression years saw further curtailments of service. The Bonnington was retired in 1931 and only the Minto and a small passenger tug remained in service. The Minto operated between Robson West, near Castlegar, Nakusp and Arrowhead until 1954 when it was retired breaking what had once been an important connection on the original "Crow Route." The Minto was eventually burned in 1968 just before the Arrow Lakes were flooded.

In the Okanagan, the Lake & River Service operated sternwheelers into the 1930s but gradually, roads and rail services were improved. By the end of 1935, the Sicamous, the last sternwheeler running in the area was relegated to freight service during the busy fruit season. At the end of the 1936 fruit harvest season the vessel was retired and only ran once on an excursion the following summer before being finally retired. In 1949 the Sicamous was purchased by the city of Penticton and in 1951 it was towed there for permanent preservation. A tug and barge service continued in the Okanagan until 1972.

Several generations of residents in the smaller communities served by the sternwheelers depended on these vessels for their connections with the rest of the world. Fruit ranchers shipped their crops by steamer, relatives came to visit, packages, newspapers and mail came in on the boat. Visits to doctors or dentists often began by taking the steamer to Nelson or Nakusp. They were often the only means of communication available for people living along the lakes and rivers of the southern interior. Today, we often think of these small towns as being remote but in the early 1900s, they often had a daily steamer service and the people living there seldom thought they were cut off from the rest of the world. Their route to the world stopped by at the steamer dock every day.

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