Upper Kootenay River Sternwheelers

CPR Crowsnest Route Sternwheelers and Tugs

Many steam vessels operated on the lakes and rivers of southern British Columbia and provided important links in the Canadian Pacific's Crowsnest Route. These are the major vessels that operated in connection with the CPR's trains on the Crow Route. There were other steamers owned by the CPR in the region that operated on other routes and vessels operated by the Columbia & Kootenay Steam Navigation Company before it was bought by the Canadian Pacific in 1896-1897. The dates shown are from the launching of the vessel until it was no longer in service or in some cases available for service. Some steamers may not have been used in their last years or were sold a few years after they were removed from service. The figures shown with each vessel are its registered dimensions: length, breadth and depth in feet.

Kootenay Lake Vessels Sternwheelers:

Nelson 1891-1913. (131.6 x 26.4 x 6.0 feet) This sternwheeler was the first major steam vessel on Kootenay Lake and operated from Nelson to Kuskonook and Kootenay Landing during the construction of the Crowsnest Pass Route. Then, briefly, it ran along with the Moyie on the Crow Route service. Burned in 1914.

Kokanee 1896-1923. (142.5 x 24.8 x 5.7 feet) A speedy vessel designed for passenger and freight service on Kootenay Lake, the Kokanee was used mainly on the Nelson to Kaslo route but served as a relief vessel for the larger Moyie during the early years of the Crowsnest service.

Moyie 1898-1957. (161.7 x 30.1 x 5.1 feet) An elegant steamer featuring a large dining saloon and spacious accommodations, the Moyie entered service on the Crow Route in 1898 and remained the primary vessel on this route until 1906 when the Kuskanook was built. Moyie was the relief vessel after that and operated on all Kootenay Lake routes. The Moyie was the last passenger sternwheeler in service in Canada. Preserved in Kaslo as the outstanding SS Moyie National Historic Site.

Kuskanook 1906-1931. (193.5 x 30.9 x 7.0 feet) Built to replace the Moyie and increase capacity on the Crow Route. Her construction coincided with the introduction of the Soo-Spokane Train de Luxe that ran via the Crowsnest Route. Remained the primary Crow Route vessel for only seven years until the bigger Nasookin was built. Then became the relief vessel and was used on the Nelson to Kaslo service. Broken up in the mid-1930s.

Nasookin 1913-1930 (1931-1947). (202.2 x 39.6 x 7.5 feet) A sistership to the Bonnington, built on the Arrow Lakes, and one of the largest steamers to operate on inland waters in British Columbia. A beautiful vessel with a steel hull. Leased and then sold to the B.C. government to operate as a ferry across Kootenay Lake. Replaced by the present day MV Anscomb.


These tugs were built for the Kootenay Lake barge service between Nelson (Procter after 1900) and Kootenay Landing.

Ymir 1899-1929. (77.7 x 16.7 x 6.5 feet)

Proctor 1900-1904. (65.0 x 14.4 x 5.2 feet) The Proctor was transferred to Trout Lake in 1904 and was later sold by the CPR.

Valhalla 1901-1930. (102.5 x 20.8 x 9.0 feet)

Hosmer 1909-1930. (109.8 x 20.9 x 8.4 feet)

Granthall 1928-1958. (102.0 x 24.1 x 10.0 feet) After the end of the barge service, the Granthall was retained as a relief vessel for the Moyie on the routes to Kaslo, Riondel, Lardeau and other points around Kootenay Lake.

Arrow Lakes Route Vessels Sternwheelers:

Kootenay 1897-1919. (183.5 x 32.6 x 6.2 feet) A large freight and passenger steamer, the Kootenay remained in regular service throughout the early boom years along the Arrow Lakes. She also sailed south to Trail.

Rossland 1897/98-1917. (183.4 x 29.1 x 7.0 feet) The Rossland was a beautiful express passenger steamer built to connect the CPR mainline services with the Kootenays and the connections to the new Crowsnest Route. A fast vessel, it could steam at over 20 miles (32 km) per hour.

Minto 1898-1954 (161.7 x 30.1 x 5.1 feet) A sistership to the Moyie, the Minto was the most famous of the Arrow Lakes sternwheelers and ran between Arrowhead and Robson for over half a century. The last steamer on the route, she was burned in 1968.

Bonnington 1911-1931 (sold 1942 and later broken up). (202.5 x 39.6 x 7.5) The first of three beautiful four-deck sternwheelers built by the B.C. Lake & River Service before the First World War. Her sisterships were the Nasookin and the Sicamous (which is preserved at Penticton). The Bonnington was intended for the summer service between Arrowhead and Robson to connect the main line with the routes through southern British Columbia and the Crowsnest Route. The Bonnington was taken out of service during the Depression and was broken up in the late 1940s.

Slocan Lake Route Vessels Sternwheeler:

Slocan 1897-1905/1905-1928 (157.7 x 27.5 x 6.7 feet) The Slocan was built at Rosebery to provide a connecting service with trains on the CPR's trackage between Nakusp on the Arrow Lakes and Rosebery on Slocan Lake with the branch line built between the southern end of Slocan Lake and the railway between Nelson and Robson. This route bypassed the Narrows of the Columbia River and ensured year round service between Nelson, Rossland and Trail and the Crowsnest Route and the mainline at Revelstoke. The Slocan was rebuilt with a new hull in 1905.

Passenger carrying tugs:

These vessels carried passengers as well as moving railway car barges between Slocan City and Rosebery.

Sandon 1898-1927 (76.0 x 16.9 x 6.2 feet)

Rosebery 1928-1943; rebuilt with new hull; 1943-1956. (97.7 x 20.2 x 7.4 feet (after 1943))

Steam NavigationSteam Navigation