In the litte BC town of Kaslo (click here to see a map), population approx. 1000, an old retired paddle steamer, the SS Moyie, has been slowly restored and turned into a museum through no small feat of devotion and care. M and I were waylaid by a chatty woman when we camped out one night not far from Kaslo. She insisted we must visit this boat museum, and told us tales of how it used to paddle up and down the Kootenay lakes system (click the link to the map above to see this lake system) as one of the only forms of transport (way back when the roads were not readily formed). It was first put into use in 1898 and was retired in 1957. I wasn’t so excited about the prospect of seeing a dusty old paddle ship, but M was convinced it would be the bees knees, so we went.
So my first impression – yip it’s a boat.
But as we walked on board, I became fascinated by the details that were there. They have restored the boat to the condition it was in when it was taken out of circulation (or however you say a boat has been retired). They have put cargo on board the same as what would have been taken on board when it was actively steaming up and down the lake system. Obviously, some of the cargo is fake, but the details, down to the labels on the boxes, was incredible.
And these were pictures I took only from the first cargo deck! As I made my way up to the passenger decks, I slowly became more and more impressed and drawn into the history of this boat. There was a smoking room (clearly for the gents only – sexist old farts), card tables, a dining room, a piano so live music could be played for entertainment, a bunk room and so on and so forth. You could really imagine the people dressed up, treating it like an evening out as they paddled the lakes from one place to the next.
There was also a display of things that people had dropped down the window sills over the years – playing cards (maybe someone was cheating in a game?), candy wrappers, post cards, a book (to prop the window open?). These pieces of “rubbish” had been fished out and put on display – paltry little bits of nothing which I’m sure the original owners would laugh at to see them now on display in the boat museum. The windows had magnificent detail in them – they were originally inlaid with photographs of scenes from along the lakes, which have now faded, but are being restored a bit at a time.
We then moved from the passenger sections of the boat to the wheel house, where if you paid an extra $5 you were allowed to pull the steam horn. Someone did it just before we went in there, so we opted not to. The views of the lake were magnificent, but my favourite thing, just outside the wheel house, was the “fire extinguisher” system. Here’s hoping they never had to use it!
And then we rented paddle boards and went out exploring the lake ourselves – such a calm, sunny amazing sunny day, and definitely worth a stop if you are ever heading that way.