The S.S. Moyie of Kootenay Lake at Kaslo, Canada

On August 30, 1997 I toured one of the paddlewheel steamers that worked Kootenay Lake, the S.S. Moyie. It's in good shape and a very interesting tour. Worth seeing.

Kootenay Lake, British Columbia, Canada
Kootenay Lake, British Columbia, Canada

Kaslo, British Columbia, is the home of the oldest intact passenger-carrying sternwheel steamer in the world. The S.S. Moyie was built at Nelson shipyard in the summer and fall of 1898, and launched on 22 October. After 59 years of service on Kootenay Lake the S.S. Moyie was retired in 1957 by the Canadian Pacific Lake and River Service.

At high water the following spring she was sold for a dollar, towed to Kaslo and brought ashore. That same year the Kootenay Lake Historical Society was established and became her custodian. The S.S. Moyie is a National Historic Site of Canada, and a British Columbia Historic Landmark.

In the 1890s the mountainous southern part of British Columbia attracted the attention of miners and investors searching for silver, lead and zinc. Transportation of equipment and supplies, and the shipment of ores, depended on the lakes and rivers, connected to the outer world by rail lines.

A consortium of companies led by the Great Northern Railway competed with the Canadian Pacific Railway for boat and rail traffic on Kootenay Lake. A new CPR line built through the coal-rich Crowsnest Pass, in Alberta, reached Kootenay Landing late in 1898. From there passengers and freight were to be carried to Nelson by a specially-built steamboat, the S.S. Moyie.

S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada

The S.S. Moyie rests ashore on a steel cradle, so we can examine it from the keel up to the smokestack and steam whistle. The large paddlewheel at the stern is, of course, the most conspicuous characteristic of this kind of vessel. Between it and the ship’s stern are four large rudders connected by chains to the great steering wheel in the pilot house, the uppermost enclosed space on the ship.

S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada

Between the pilot house and the hull are the two levels that earned much of the ship’s keep: the freight and saloon decks. The freight deck’s heavy floor, large sliding doors and open space are typical of all ships of this kind. A large area is occupied by the vessel’s machinery: the huge boiler and the two engines. On this level there are sleeping cabins for the deck hands, and the galley.

S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada

S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada

S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada

S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada

S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada

S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada

The saloon deck’s layout includes three typical subdivisions: men’s and women’s saloons, with a dining saloon between them. At the forward end of this deck is the men’s saloon with its curving array of large windows, hard bench seating, spittoons and a lavatory. Smoking was permitted here, and alcoholic drinks were sold by the ship’s bar (until prohibition arrived). Nearby is the Purser’s office, where the ship’s business was conducted.

The ladies’ saloon was more comfortably furnished, with curtains and cushioned seating. Its high Victorian decoration has been restored, and today it is an unusually fine example of a period interior. The dining saloon is another example, with a figured hardwood parquet floor, and clerestory windows with photographic scenes from along the CPR main line. The pantry, in one corner, is connected to the galley below by a small dumb waiter. The dining saloon was deliberately made a generous size, with only a few sleeping cabins initially.

S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada

S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada

S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada

S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada

S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada

Beneath it all lies the ship’s hull. It is relatively shallow, flat-bottomed and sheathed with wooden planks. Unlike most other sternwheelers of that day the Moyie’s hull has a steel frame. The components were assembled at the Nelson yard by men from the Bertram Engine Works of Toronto, (who would have also overseen the installation of the engines and the original boiler). The SS Moyie’s unusually long working life is due largely to the strength of her hull.

S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada

S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada
S.S. Moyie, Kaslo, Canada

For the complete story of the S.S. Moyie click here.