The first railway freight cars arrived at Summerland’s CPR Wharf in June 1910. The freight cars were loaded with fruit, vegetables, horses and cattle, which were then transported to Vernon and Kelowna. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
The first railway freight cars arrived at Summerland’s CPR Wharf in June 1910. The freight cars were loaded with fruit, vegetables, horses and cattle, which were then transported to Vernon and Kelowna. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)

The first railway freight cars arrived at Summerland’s CPR Wharf in June 1910. The freight cars were loaded with fruit, vegetables, horses and cattle, which were then transported to Vernon and Kelowna. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum) The first railway freight cars arrived at Summerland’s CPR Wharf in June 1910. The freight cars were loaded with fruit, vegetables, horses and cattle, which were then transported to Vernon and Kelowna. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)

Boats and trains once provided transportation in Okanagan Valley

Sternwheelers and Kettle Valley Railway were used to move goods in the region

Boats and trains were once used to transport goods in the Okanagan Valley.

The first railway freight cars arrived in Summerland at the CPR Wharf in June, 1910. The cars were loaded with fruit, vegetables, horses and cattle, which were then transported to Vernon and Kelowna.

In the early years of Summerland, Okanagan Lake was the main transportation corridor and transportation between communities in the valley was done by boat.

The first commercial boat on the lake was the Mary Victoria Greenhow, built and owned by Capt. Thomas Dolman Shorts.

READ ALSO: Sternwheelers once plied Okanagan Lake

READ ALSO: Summerland railway bridge was constructed in 1913

In 1893, the Canadian Pacific Railway launched the Aberdeen, the first sternwheeler on the lake. It operated until 1913 when it was dismantled at Okanagan Landing.

The last sternwheeler, the Sicamous, was taken out of service in 1935 as the automobile had taken over as the primary means of transportation in the area. The captain of the Sicamous, Joe Weeks, arrived in Canada in 1893 when he was 15. He captained ships in the area from 1904 to 1935 and logged more than 3.2 million kilometres.

The Sicamous was abandoned for 16 years. In 1951, the Penticton Gyro Club bought the sternwheeler for $1 and restored the craft. It is now in place on the shore of Okanagan Lake in Penticton.

Railway transportation also played an important role in the development of the Okanagan Valley.

The Kettle Valley Railway was originally designed to bypass Summerland. In 1910, James Ritchie, the reeve of the municipality, requested the railway not to bypass the community, but this request was turned down.

Ritchie then surveyed the area, using a carpenter’s level, and designed a route that would pass near the present research station.

This plan kept the grade to no more than two per cent and shortened the route by nearly a kilometre.

A steel bridge over the Trout Creek Canyon was built in 1913 and the first train crossed it on Oct. 25, 1913.

The first train passed through Summerland May 31, 1915. More than 2,000 people stood at the site of the train station to see the train. Schools were dismissed early and many businesses were closed for the day to allow people to watch the train.

This train consisted of a steam engine and its baggage car, a first class coach and a sleeper. It arrived in Summerland at 3:59 p.m.

The last passenger train to pass through Summerland came through the community Jan. 16, 1964.

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