British Columbia Lake & River Service
and the Crow Boat Service (1 of 6)


The steamer routes operated by the Canadian Pacific in southern British Columbia were an important and integral part of the transportation system. Steamer services were usually provided in areas where construction costs were too high or traffic too low to justify the construction of railways.

In the early 1890s, small companies began operating sternwheeled steamboats on the Columbia River south from Revelstoke, on the Kootenay River and on Kootenay Lake. Some services operated south into the United States. Initially, these boats provided local services but as the mining developments and communities in these areas grew, the need for larger and faster vessels increased. The Columbia & Kootenay Steam Navigation Company became the largest operator on the Columbia River and Kootenay Lake and by 1896 had a large fleet of modern vessels in operation.


The SS. Kokanee at Nelson, on July 2, 1896
BC Archives photo: A-00689

As the Canadian Pacific's interest in the Kootenays grew, the company decided to purchase this fleet of sternwheelers, including such vessels as the Kokanee, Nelson, Nakusp and Trail and expand its operations. The CPR took over in the winter of 1896-1897 and soon added new vessels to the service on all of the major routes. Within a year, the new services were paying the company a substantial profit.

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