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 8:00 p.m.

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sicamous Eagles suffer winless weekend

Games against the North Okanagan Knights, Summerland Steam and Kmaloops Storm all ended badly.

Rockslide obstructing traffic in Sunnybrae

Large boulders rolled onto Sunnybrae Canoe-Point Road in the South Shuswap.

Island road trip unkind to playoff-bound Silverbacks

As the ‘Backs hit the road, the chase for a better playoff berth in the Interior was heating up.

South Canoe Elementary made K-8 for one year

The motion was passed to keep students from making multiple transfers

Word on the street: What is your biggest pet peeve regarding cellphone use?

In light of Unplug and Play Family Literacy Week run by the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Music stars pay tribute to Kobe Bryant at Grammys award show

Music artists including Billy Ray Cyrus, Rick Ross and Kirk Franklin paid tribute to Bryant

Kobe Bryant’s helicopter flew in fog that grounded other choppers

The cause of the crash that killed Bryant, his daughter and several others was unknown

Victoria-area wolf tranquilized after being seen running around neighbourhood

Officials say wolf unharmed during its ‘arrest’

Ontario confirms second presumptive coronavirus case in wife of first patient

Both arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

Classic tale seeks North Okanagan ballet dancers

Anne of Green Gables, by Ballet Jorgen, in Vernon

North Okanagan youth ready to make some NOYSE

Showcase of excellence features talents of young local performance

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Most Read