Skip to content

SS Moyie restoration wins Heritage BC award

The $800,000 project included weather-proofing the entire vessel
The SS Moyie in Kaslo is the oldest intact passenger sternwheeler in the world and is a designated National Historic Site. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

A Kaslo organization has received an award from Heritage BC for its restoration work on the oldest intact passenger sternwheeler in the world.

The Kootenay Lake Historical Society received the award for its improvements to the outer deck and its extensive weather-proofing of the SS Moyie over the past several years.

Society chair Sarah Sinclair said the boat was suffering from leaks that were resulting in a deterioration of many parts of the vessel.

She said the multi-year project involved strict guidelines because the Moyie is a National Historic Site.

”Our main purpose is maintaining the historical integrity of the ship. We were allowed to make improvements for safety, but nothing can be changed (and the structure had to be) put back to how it originally was.”

The SS Moyie plied Kootenay Lake for 59 years until 1957.

The exacting work of faithful historical restoration along with modern sealing methods meant recruiting specialized professional advice including that of Kit Ashenhurst, a retired engineer who had recently moved to Kaslo. Sinclair said Ashenhurst spent hundreds of hours planning the work and sourcing heritage materials, some of which was donated by local woodworkers.

Also indispensable to the project, Sinclair said, was past president Gillian Froese, who instigated much of the fundraising and recruitment.

The project, which cost more than $800,000, was funded by grants and donations.

“It was a huge process,” Sinclair said. “The scaffolding alone — and we got a good deal from the scaffolding company out of Trail — that was $100,000.”

Sinclair said raising these funds was possible because “the ship is so well-loved, and it’s the main economic driver for Kaslo and Area D in the summertime.”

She said the Moyie is now beginning to match its pre-COVID-19 visitor numbers of about 20,000 per year.

There is still more work to do, including some painting and the replacement of the foredeck. Fundraising is now underway for this final stage.

The two other local recipients of the total of 21 Heritage BC awards given in several categories at a ceremony on May 3 were the Hume Hotel for its refurbished heritage directional sign on Baker Street in Nelson, and Michael Wicks, for his volunteer work in developing and maintaining the Queer Archives at the Nelson Museum for the last three decades.


Nelson Museum volunteer Michael Wicks wins provincial heritage award

Hume Hotel wins heritage award for restoration of sign

Bill Metcalfe

About the Author: Bill Metcalfe

I have lived in Nelson since 1994 and worked as a reporter at the Nelson Star since 2015.
Read more