The S.S. Moyie sternwheeler is one of the most significant preserved steam passenger vessels in North America. When the Moyie was retired in 1957, after a 59-year career with the Canadian Pacific Railway’s BC Lake and River Service, she was the last operating passenger sternwheeler in Canada. She is in a surprisingly complete state for a vessel with such a long service record.
The Moyie was ordered originally by the CPR for a planned “All Canadian Route” to the Klondike. When the bill authorizing the essential railway link failed to pass the Canadian Senate in 1898, the CPR began to dispose of its fleet of vessels, and the Moyie was shipped by rail to Nelson for service on Kootenay Lake.
The Moyie began service on the Nelson-Kootenay Landing Route on December 7, 1898, to connect with the newly completed rail line from southern Alberta through the Crowsnest Pass to the lower end of Kootenay Lake. The Moyie operated on the Nelson-Kootenay Landing Route as the major vessel (the “Crow Boat”), providing the service until the construction of the larger and faster S.S. Kuskanook in 1906. It appears that the Moyie strayed little from the “Crow Boat” service during these years except for operation on the occasional excursion. The Moyie connected with the trains, its Dining Saloon providing the sole eating facility on the service. By 1900, however, buffet cars were included in trains to Kootenay Landing. After completion of the Kuskanook in 1906, the Moyie was assigned to secondary routes from Nelson or Procter to Kaslo and other smaller communities along the shore of Kootenay Lake, in particular, Lardeau and Argenta.
The early 1900s were a period of rapid population growth in the West Kootenays. Mining, agriculture and tourism were expanding. The end of the population explosion began when the first World War came. The major mining booms had passed and road and rail expansion gradually reduced the need for steamer services.
Three large sternwheelers completed just before the war were to be used for the heavy summer season traffic on Kootenay Lake and to increase accommodations on the major mainline routes, thereby relegating the Moyie to local and freight services.