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 18th, 1902. The Kelowna wharf was located at the foot of Bernard Avenue, where the Sails are presently located.

Kelowna Wharf, 1906

As the freight volume increased, another vessel was needed.
The S.S. Okanagan was constructed at Okanagan Landing.

Feb. 1, 1906, Kelowna Courier
Feb. 1st, 1906
Feb. 15, 1906, Kelowna Courier
Feb. 15th, 1906

Winters could be a challenge on Okanagan Lake for the vessels.

Jan. 17, 1907, Kelowna Courier
Ice, Feb. 7, 1907, Kelowna Courier
Jan. 24, 1907, Kelowna Courier

Mar. 28, 1907, Kelowna Courier
March 28th, 1907
Apr. 18, 1907, Kelowna Courier
April 18th, 1907

S.S. Okanagan, Apr. 25, 1907, Kelowna Courier
Maiden Voyage; April 25th, 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 - Kelowna Courier
Oct. 17th, 1907—Land now purchased for new rail wharf.

Nov. 19, 1908 - Kelowna Courier
Nov. 19th, 1908—More than a year has passed since the purchase of the land and constrction has still not started.

July 29, 1909 - Kelowna Courier
Update on construction. July 22nd, 1909

C.P. Rail Wharf Receives First Cars—Friday, October 22nd, 1909

Oct. 28, 1909, Kelowna Courier
Historic day finally arrives. First rail line in Kelowna opens.

Mar. 3, 1910, Kelowna Courier
Smokestack topples, scares passengers.

July 28, 1910, Kelowna Courier
S.S. Kaleden passing Kelowna, July 28th, 1910.

Apr. 27, 1911, Kelowna Courier
S.S. Castlegar launched April 12th, 1911.

April 20th, 1914—The tug Naramata was put into service at Okanagan Landing.

May 28, 1914, Kelowna Courier
June 18, 1914, Kelowna Courier

May 19th, 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.

Kelowna Courier, 1920
The new C.N. track from Vernon to Kelowna was finally completed Sept. 11th, 1925,
very soon after C.N. built their own wharf, a half-mile north of the C.P. wharf.
February 4th, 1926—the survey for the new C.N. wharf and tracks have been completed.
C.N. rail passenger service started Feb. 15th, 1926.
May 6th, 1926—the new dock is completed and awaiting the arrival of the sections of the new C.N. tug to be assembled.

May 20, 1926, Kelowna Courier
Click headline for full story.
The first C.N. tug on Okanagan Lake—The Pentowna was announced.

June 17, 1926, Kelowna Courier
Slight delay in Pentowna launch.

July 15, 1926, Kelowna Courier
Click headline for full story.
Announcing future in-service date of The Pentowna.

July 15, 1926, Kelowna Courier
Click headline for full story.
Changes on C.P. steam ships.

June 28, 1928, Kelowna Courier
Click headline for full story.
Announcing arrival of The Radius.

July 12, 1928, Kelowna Courier
Traffic increased and another tug was required.
The Radius was renamed C.N. Tug #3.

The hull of C.N. tug #5 was launched May 8th, 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.

Jan 10, 1935, Kelowna Courier
Click headline for full story.

May 9, 1935, Kelowna Courier
Click headline for full story.

Pentowna goes from a passenger craft to only towing barges.

Credit Bob Webster
Pentowna’s appearance after the overhaul. Shown with the post-1961 C.N. marking on the stack.

Jan. 27, 1947, Kelowna Courier
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

Feb. 2, 1948, Kelowna Courier
Click headline for full story.
The last new tug for Okanagan Lake, C.N. tug #6, constructed in Kelowna.

Apr. 5, 1948, Kelowna Courier

C.N. on Okanagan Lake, Late 40’s
Collection of Chief Engineer Siewert

C.N. barge on Okanagan Lake
C.N. barge on Okanagan Lake

C.N. barges
#108 - 186’
#110 - 224’
#112 - 240’

Mr. Siewert had a 27-year career with C.N., ending with the conclusion of tug service Feb. 15th, 1973.

Who Wants the Sicamous?
Tied up at Okanagan Landing since the fall of 1935.

Trip to Penticton on Oct. 6, 1949? Not quite so fast!
Click headline for full story.
Trip to Penticton on Oct. 6th, 1949? Not quite so fast!

Finally makes it to Penticton for permanent display
Click headline for full story.
Aug. 27th, 1951: finally makes it to Penticton for permanent display.

C.N. Tug 5, June 18, 1965, Kelowna Daily Courier
C.N. Tug #5 being readied to leave valley.

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.

Feb. 8, 1974, Kelowna Courier
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.

Nov. 8, 1972, Kelowna Daily Courier
Click headline for full story.
Nov. 8th, 1972, M.V. Okanagan is sold.

M.V. Okanagan redone in 2005
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

C.N. Ends Tug and Barge Service
Less than a year later after C.P., on Feb. 15th, 1973.

July 7, 1972, Kelowna Daily Courier
C.N. reassures its customers barge service will continue.

Nov. 15, 1972 - Bob Webster Collection
Bulletin #132, issued to C.N. employees.

Al Jaster collection - Harry Schim photo, 1973
C.N. Tug #6 tied up at the Kelowna dock, 1973.

Nov. 16, 1972, Kelowna Daily Courier
Traffic declined faster than anticipated.

Feb. 15, 1973, Kelowna Daily Courier
Recap of the last trip.

July 13, 1973, Kelowna Daily Courier
C.N. lists the tug & barges for sale in the July 13th, 1973 Daily Courier.

C.N. Tug #6 and Barges sold to a Wetaskiwin, Alberta business.

Aug. 18, 1973, Kelowna Daily Courier
Aug. 18th, 1973—C.N. makes last move of the tug and barges to Fintry for storage.

Mar. 7, 1974, Kelowna Daily Courier

Tug relocation plans must not have worked out, as C.N. #6 never left the valley.

Feb. 11, 1992, Kelowna Daily Courier
M.V. Okanagan was listed for sale for $40,000 and Tug #6 for $60,000.

March 30th, 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 16th, 2007—it was moved to Penticton, and moored along with the Sicamous and the Naramata.

M.V. Pentowna

May 2, 1974, Kelowna Daily Courier
After a brief stay in Penticton, M.V. Pentowna returns to Peachland—May 2nd, 1974

Dec. 7, 1976, Kelowna Daily Courier
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.

Oct. 30, 2005, Kelowna Daily Courier
Click headline for full story.

From the Pentowna collection of Raphael Nowak

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.

What Not to Do with Old Barges

Public outcry forced the removal of the barges from the lake.

Dec. 20, 1972, Kelowna Daily Courier
Dec. 21, 1972, Kelowna Daily Courier

Fri. Mar. 29, 1974, Kelowna Daily Courier
March 29th, 1974

An interesting article on C.N.’s wharf in Penticton, from the Model Railroader Magazine, May, 1968:   [Page 1]   [Page 2]

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