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 a.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.

Just Posted

Province announces $23 million for upgrades at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital

West Kootenay-Boundary Regional Hospital District Board has yet to review the provincial proposal

UPDATE: Two-car accident closes Highway 3A at Thrums

Road expected to open for single-lane alternating traffic at 2 p.m.

OPINION: Florio Vassilakakis calls city tax increase ‘overly ambitious’

One city councillor’s take on the City of Castlegar’s proposed budget

Castlegar moves towards allowing more in-home childcare spaces

If passed, bylaw will increase the maximum number of children allowed to match provincial standards.

Call a foul on cancer with the Pink Whistle Campaign

Local basketball referees are raising money for cancer research

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

Workshop with ‘accent reduction’ training cancelled at UBC

The workshop was cancelled the same day as an email was sent out to international students

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Snow turns to slush, rain as it warms up across B.C.’s south coast

Some areas are already covered by more than half a metre of snow following three separate storms

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Police track armed kidnapping across Thompson-Okanagan

RCMP allege it was a targeted crime believed to be linked to the drug trade

St. Paul’s Hospital replacement slated to open in Vancouver in 2026

Announced many times, but this time there’s money, Adrian Dix says

Most Read