SS Moyie, a brief history

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.

TicketThe Moyie operated on a special gala excursion for community and business leaders from the West Kootenay to open the Crowsnest railway on December 7, 1898. For the next eight years, the Moyie was the premier "Crow Boat" operating between Nelson and Kootenay Landing. However, in 1906 it was replaced by the newer and larger steamer Kuskanook. After that, the Moyie often substituted for the Kuskanook until it too was superseded by a larger vessel, the Nasookin.

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).

The Moyie proved to be a very versatile vessel and operated on all of the CPR's steamer routes on Kootenay Lake. It ran to Kaslo, Lardeau and Argenta in passenger and mail services and pushed barges to Lardeau, Kaslo and Riondel. By the time it was retired, the Moyie was nearly 60 years old: a very long life for a type of vessel that seldom survived beyond 25 years of age. The Moyie outlasted all other passenger sternwheelers operating in Canada and the western United States.