Tug and Rail Barge History from a Kelowna Perspective
Canadian Pacific Railway completed a secondary rail line from Sicamous to Okanagan Landing in June 1892.
This railway was called the Shuswap & Okanagan Railway.
An excellent diorama depicting rail to barge operations at Okanagan Landing, made by the Vernon Model railway Club.
Soon after, C.P.R sternwheelers started on Okanagan Lake.
From 1893, the S.S. Aberdeen was hard at work when joined by the S.S. York, which was diverted to the Okanagan, on January 18, 1902. The Kelowna wharf was located at the foot of Bernard Avenue, where the Sails are presently located.
As the freight volume increased, another vessel was needed.
The S.S. Okanagan was constructed at Okanagan Landing.
Winters could be a challenge on Okanagan Lake for the vessels.
March 28, 1907
April 18, 1907
Maiden Voyage, April 25, 1907. Click on article above for full story.
Lakes in the Kootenays had rail transfer barges before they were introduced to the Okanagan.
A new rail wharf is being planned, to be located farther north from the original passenger wharf,
in what will be the new industrial area of Kelowna.
Oct. 17, 1907—Land now purchased for new rail wharf.
Nov. 19, 1908—More than a year has passed since the purchase of the land and constrction has still not started.
Update on construction. July 22, 1909
C.P. Rail Wharf Receives First Cars—Friday, October 22nd, 1909
Historic day finally arrives. First rail line in Kelowna opens.
Smokestack topples, scares passengers.
S.S. Kaleden passing Kelowna, July 28, 1910.
S.S. Castlegar launched April 12, 1911.
April 20, 1914—The tug Naramata was put into service at Okanagan Landing.
May 19, 1914—The S.S. Sicamous was put into service at Okanagan Landing.
The S.S. Aberdeen was retired in 1916.
1920, the S.S. Kelowna was put into service.
The engine was from the Whatshan, an Arrow Lakes tug. Retired 1919, dismantled 1920.
The new C.N. track from Vernon to Kelowna was finally completed Sept. 11, 1925,
very soon after C.N. built their own wharf, a half-mile north of the C.P. wharf.
February 4, 1926—the survey for the new C.N. wharf and tracks have been completed.
C.N. rail passenger service started Feb. 15, 1926.
May 6, 1926—the new dock is completed and awaiting the arrival of the sections of the new C.N. tug to be assembled.
The hull of C.N. tug #5 was launched May 8, 1930, as is shown in the following three pictures:
Harry Pace is visible on the upper-side of the cabin.
Jock McGill was washed off the boat, as it hit the water.
S.S. Sicamous operations wind down.
C.P.R. obtains passenger train running rights on C.N. track from Vernon to Kelowna.
After limited use during the fruit shipping season of
1935-36, the remodelled S.S. Sicamous was tied up at
Okanagan Landing until 1951.
Pentowna goes from a passenger craft to only towing barges.
Click headline for full story.
M.V. Okanagan is the last tug constructed at Okanagan Landing,
and the last new tug for C.P. on Okanagan Lake
Click headline for full story.
The last new tug for Okanagan Lake, C.N. tug #6, constructed in Kelowna.
C.N. on Okanagan Lake, Late 40s
Collection of Chief Engineer Siewert
Mr. Siewert had a 27-year career with C.N., ending with the conclusion of tug service Feb. 15, 1973.
Who Wants the Sicamous?
Tied up at Okanagan Landing since the fall of 1935.
End of the Tug and Rail Barge on Okanagan Lake
Rail-barge traffic continues to decline, as fruit shipments are now moved by trucks.
C.P. ended the tug/rail barge service May 31st, 1972.
A little more than a year after C.P. suspends barge operations, C.N. suspends their operations as well.
Soon after, the M.V. Okanagan tug and barge were sold.
After being purchased from the Korbergs in 1998, a campground modified the M.V. Okanagan,
and is moored at Indian Arm, in the Newport Beach area, which is at the north-end of Okanagan Lake.
It is used as an entertainment boat.
Jan. 2010—info from Larry Gadbois and the Vernon Yacht Club on current status of the M.V. Okanagan
Less than a year later after C.P., on Feb. 15th, 1973.
C.N. reassures its customers barge service will continue.
Bulletin #132, issued to C.N. employees.
C.N. Tug #6 tied up at the Kelowna dock, 1973.
Aug. 18, 1973—C.N. makes last move of the tug and barges to Fintry for storage.
Tug relocation plans must not have worked out, as C.N. #6 never left the valley.
M.V. Okanagan was listed for sale for $40,000 and Tug #6 for $60,000.
March 30, 1993—the City of Kelowna bought C.N. #6 for $35,000, from Angela Percy, with the intention of restoring it.
She considered the $25,000 price drop a donation to the City.
After sitting for 14 years, the City of Kelowna donated it to Penticton.
June 16, 2007—it was moved to Penticton, and moored along with the Sicamous and the Naramata.
After a brief stay in Penticton, M.V. Pentowna returns to Peachland—May 2nd, 1974
Stormy weather pushes old boat over—Dec. 7th, 1976
In the 1980's, for a period of time, it was on its side again, held up only by the dock it was moored to.
In July, 1994, the Pentowna was purchased by Dennis Dumaresq. It took nine days to tow the boat to the Mission boat launch in Kelowna. It was then moved by road, to be placed by the Michaelbrook Ranch Golf Course. Funds could not be raised for the refurbishing of the craft, and it was then scrapped in Dec. 2005.
For additional reading and sources for some of my references, “Sternwheelers and Steam Tugs” by Robert D. Turner,
and “Sternwheelers, Sandbars and Switchbacks” by Edward. L Affleck.
There is still one barge left on Okanagan Lake, owned by Tolko Industries.
Its last big project was in the construction of the W.R. Bennett Bridge.
Public outcry forced the removal of the barges from the lake.