Just north of the Salmon Arm wharf in Shuswap Lake sits a point on the online map marked “Salmon Arm Waterdome.”
Could the sign be a leftover from an ancient underwater city? A floating amusement park complete with pickleball courts? Or perhaps a watery incubator for the Shuswap’s mysterious serpent, Shuswaggi?
As it turns out, none of the above. Apparently the word is spelled wrong. It’s drome, not dome.
The name that makes the most sense would be a water aerodrome.
A water aerodrome is an area of open water that can be used by floatplanes for landing and take-off.
“I think it is referring to the old floatplane dock…,” says the city’s Rob Niewenhuizen regarding the online marker. “This no longer exists; I believe our IT staff have contacted Google about trying to get this removed.”
Double-clicking on the map brings up “Salmon Arm Waterdome, Seaplane base.”
John McDermott with Lakeland Ultralights remembers the floatplane base well. He believes it was shut down completely sometime between 2002 and 2005.
He says it was situated where the dragon boats dock.
There were four slips for floatplanes, with fuel available. Shell had put a tank on the shoreline and the plumbing for the fuel ran underneath the decking of the wharf to the dock.
“It was quite neat when it was down there, it was quite nice,” McDermott recalls.
He says its purpose was for visiting pilots to come in and get fuel. He explains that a lot of seaplanes are not amphibious so they’re limited to landing on the water and getting fuel on the water. A lot of bush planes, for instance, don’t have wheels.
McDermott says lots of people still land on Shuswap Lake, but they either have to taxi up to a marina – which can be tricky because of obstacles – or haul fuel from shore.
The closest public seaplane base appears to be in Kamloops on the Thompson River.