Updated: Jan 13
Sternwheelers are once again traveling the waters of Okanagan lake, on film anyway.
Until now, no moving pictures of the SS Sicamous in operation were known to exist.
Thanks to 16mm movies shot by two brothers from Hungary who ran a furrier business in Vancouver and traveled BC, we have a window back in time to early 20th-century life in the Okanagan Valley.
Recently the movie of the SS Sicamous, along with a treasure trove of other films and images was donated to the Okanagan Archive Trust Societies Archivist, Brian Wilson.
The film shows the SS Sicamous in its heyday, a time when sternwheelers were still the preferred form of transportation in the Okanagan.
The days of steaming Okanagan Lake were numbered though. Times changed. More and more people were using a growing network of roads and rail lines. The loss of customers and freight made ships like the SS Sicamous uneconomical to operate.
The SS Sicamous traveled Okanagan Lake from 1914 to 1936, connecting communities and rail lines throughout the Okanagan.
The SS Sicamous was commissioned by Canadian Pacific Railway.
Built in Ontario, and assembled in Vernon, the SS Sicamous was the third paddle wheeler to steam the waters of Okanagan Lake and by far the most luxurious.
Passengers could enjoy meals in a fine dining hall or a libation in one of two Saloons, one for gentlemen, the other for ladies. The ship boasted 30 staterooms and even had a bridal suite.
The vessel is over 200 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 53 feet high from the main deck to the pilot house.
When launched, the Sicamous could officially carry up to 500 people.
Learn more about the history of the SS Sicamous and other interesting Okanagan Valley history at Okanagan Archive Trust Society.
The SS Sicamous is operated as a living museum by the S.S. Sicamous Restoration Society at the S.S. Sicamous Marine Heritage Park in Penticton, BC