Nakusp marks century since launch of sternwheeler Bonnington

A century after the S.S. Bonnington made her maiden voyage on the Arrow Lakes, she got yet another round of applause in her hometown of Nakusp.

  • May. 7, 2011 12:00 p.m.
Actors from the Mirror Theatre present the story of the launch of the S.S. Bonnington

Actors from the Mirror Theatre present the story of the launch of the S.S. Bonnington

A century after the S.S. Bonnington made her maiden voyage on the Arrow Lakes, she got yet another round of applause in her hometown of Nakusp.

A record number of visitors came through the Nakusp museum on the ship’s centennial weekend.

The Nakusp and District Museum Society honored the Bonnington with a host of activities, all presided over by a 100-year-old Bonnington banner made of hemp. The flag was found in the museum’s storage room.

Sharon Montgomery is the Museum Society’s curator. She has personal family ties as well as institutional memory of the Bonnington’s service to the region, with four generations in the region on her mother’s side and three generations on her father’s side. Both of her grandfathers worked on the Bonnington.

“One hundred years ago, they declared a civic holiday in Nakusp and closed all the businesses and all the schools, and everyone went to the waterfront to watch the launching of the S.S. Bonnington,” Montgomery said.

The steam-powered sternwheeler, powered first by wood and then by coal, was the largest ship that sailed the Arrow Lakes.

Built in the Nakusp shipyard, the Bonnington played a critical role in the Arrow Lakes region, ferrying people, gold, silver and goods; there were no hairpin roads, just rails at the time.

Minerals played a role not just in opening up the Kootenays; the wealth brought to the surface from area mines fueled a larger rush for civilization, Montgomery said.

“As a side note, there was enough gold that came out of Sandon to fund the infrastructure for Vancouver, Victoria, Spokane and Seattle,” she said. “A lot of people don’t realize that’s where all the money came from to build those cities.”

The Bonnington plied the Arrow Lakes for the Canadian Pacific Railway from 1911 to the early 1930s, when she was dismantled because roads were being built in the Kootenays, giving B.C. families new freedom from mass transit on the lakes.

“My mother (Ellen Rushton) lived in Nelson, and they would travel to Castlegar by train and then catch the Bonnington up the Arrow Lakes to Nakusp to visit (her great-great-great-grandmother),” Montgomery said.

The Columbia Basin Trust sponsored the event.

“We toured 76 people through the museum that day, which was a record,” said Montgomery.

The museum will open on the long Victoria Day Weekend May 21, and will remain open seven days a week for the busy summer season.

Just Posted

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will host the Valley Wide Business Expo May 4 at Predator Ridge Resort. (photo submitted)
Golf raffle helps Okanagan families score homes

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan swinging into action this summer with a new raffle

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

Birtch Parlee is one of approximately 132,000 transgender people living across the nation, according to Statistics Canada. Photo submitted
Transgender in a small town – Princeton B.C.

“I buried it. I pushed it down. I lived a lie.”

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Dan Albas
COLUMN: Reopening the international border

Governments in Canada and the United States are working towards reopening plans for the border

Bear wanders Kelowna on June 15. (Michelle Wallace/Facebook)
Bear climbs fence, uses crosswalk in Kelowna

The bear was spotted on Baron Road Wednesday evening

This photo of the small wildfire burning above Naramata was taken at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021 (Monique Tamminga Western News)
BC Wildfire on scene of small wildfire above Naramata

Smoke has been showing since earlier in the day

Students in the Grade 10 entrepreneurship program at Summerland Unisus School have completed a cookbook with international recipes. (Contributed)
Summerland students create virtual international cookbook

Entrepreneurship program at Summerland Unisus School uses virtual cookbook as fundraiser

Hundreds of people, young and old, joined the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, those who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions. Here people walk the third portion on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Walking Our Spirits Home from Kamloops provides path to healing

First Nations in and beyond Secwépemc territory join in to honour residential school survivors

More flames
Lake Country home destroyed in large blaze, 11 dogs rescued

Fire crews are responding to 10839 Hallam Drive

(Facebook/Kelowna Cabs)
Kelowna Cabs reaches tentative agreement with dispatchers union

The tentative agreement could help end the dispute between the taxi company and the dispatchers

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

A boat sharing service is extending to Summerland. The company, Penticton Boat Club and Rentals, is also taking over the boat rentals at Summerland Waterfront Resort. (Photo by Chris Stenberg)
Boat sharing service extended from Penticton to Summerland

Company will also operate boat rentals at Summerland Waterfront Resort

201 First Street West 1980s. Prior revitalization. (Photo from Revelstoke Museum and Archives)
Man who redesigned downtown Revelstoke honoured with lifetime achievement award

Robert Inwood has worked on historical projects across the province

Most Read