Captain Don MacKinnon on his last voyage across Kootenay Lake on on the MV Balfour.

Kootenay Lake ferry captain retires after impressive career

After an incredible career on Kootenay Lake that spanned almost four decades, Capt. Don MacKinnon retired this past spring.



After an incredible career on Kootenay Lake that spanned almost four decades, Capt. Don MacKinnon retired this past spring.

On his last trip across Kootenay Lake as captain on May 9, MacKinnon’s family joined him on the MV Balfour.

“We paraded onto the ferry with the banner and balloons when all the traffic had loaded,” said MacKinnon’s sister Laurie Pollard. “I think he was a little surprised or perhaps embarrassed with our goofiness as we rode the ferry with him for his last trip.”

MacKinnon’s crew came down on the deck for pictures. There were many honks and cheers of congratulations both ways. When they returned to Balfour, the next crew was there whistling and cheering the mainstay of the Kootenay Lake ferry system.

“After a goodbye to his friends and workmates we headed up the ramp again in full parade with him in the lead,” said Pollard. “Many more of his friends and fellow work mates met us at the Dock and Duck for a celebratory cheer.”

MacKinnon’s dedication to keeping traffic moving across the lake is cemented in the fact he worked all 37 years without a single sick day.

Traveling the lake is in MacKinnon’s blood. His grandfather — Capt. Malcolm MacKinnon — was one of the last captains of the SS Nasookin and was on board when the MV Anscomb went on her first voyage from Nelson to Balfour.

Other notable moments in Captain Don MacKinnon’s career on Kootenay Lake include being behind the controls during the MV Anscomb’s final voyage before it was sold and taking the Osprey 2000 on her very first trip in service.

Other than his time on the water, MacKinnon is active in the community with air search and rescue, he is an avid diver and keeps busy running a small farm.

On July 21 there was a more official retirement party for MacKinnon at Sunshine Bay Park that included a large gathering of family, friends and crew.