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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
S.S. Sicamous is a large steel-hulled sternwheeler, built for the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1914, and now permanently beached at the south end of Okanagan Lake in Penticton. It is a prominent feature at the northwest entry to the city on Highway 97.
S.S. Sicamous is one of the better known heritage features of the Okanagan. A municipally designated vessel, it is valued as a symbol of an era. The heritage value of this historic paddle wheeler lies in its pivotal role in the history of transportation, commerce, and the development of tourism in the Okanagan. Built in segments by the Western Drydock and Shipbuilding Company in Port Arthur , Ontario, shipped west by rail and launched at Okanagan Landing on May 19, 1914, S.S. Sicamous cost $180,000, more than any previous sternwheeler in the Canadian Pacific Railway's (CPR) service, and thus epitomizes the CPR's investment in the west.
This sternwheeler evokes the optimism of the pre-WWI era, as is evidenced in her lavishly fitted interior, including a 65 foot (19.8m) long dining room, staterooms, brass fittings, skylights, mirrors, and electric lights. The sternwheeler is also valued for its evocation of a period when boats were places of business and social activity. S.S. Sicamous was connected with public ceremonies accompanying the departure and return of troops from the Okanagan to Europe during World War I. It was also used for moonlight cruises with a dance band. This vessel plied the waters of Okanagan Lake until 1936 and is reflective of an age when the community gathered to celebrate important events.
S.S. Sicamous is valued for its evocation of an era when lake transportation connected the communities of the Okanagan to each other and to the outside world, representing the peak of social and economic development before World War I. It is also valued as a highly visible landmark at the entry to the city and a focal point for the tourist industry. It was used as a museum from 1951 to 1965, and subsequently as a restaurant until 1988 when it was restored and began its life in its current role as an historic site.
Source: City of Penticton Civic File for:1075 & 1081 Lakeshore Drive
Key elements that define the heritage character of S.S. Sicamous include:
- the substantial size of the ship, 200 feet 5 inches (61.1 m.) long - 227.5 feet (69.3 m.) including the paddlewheel, 39.1 feet (11.9 m.) wide, and displacing 1786.25 tons (1620.45 metric tons).
- the steel hull, which is unique among surviving sternwheelers of Western Canada and the Yukon Territory
- the use of a central kingpost and adjacent hogposts rigged to the bow and stern to allow for a flat bottom without an external keel
- the shallow draft, which was important at small landings on the lake
- the remaining cargo and saloon decks
- the large dining room and staterooms
- original interior brass and wood fittings, inlcuding skylights, mirrors and electric light fixtures
- original boiler
- the historical association with transportation of people and freight to communities on Okanagan Lake and to mining towns in the South Okanagan
- community support for the restoration and maintenance of the vessel since 1951
- association with other historic vessels, including the retired tug S. S. Naramata, located in an adjacent dry berth
- association with volunteer groups who helped restore it, including the Gyro Club, the Penticton Museum, and the S.S. Sicamous Restoration Society
- association with the Western Drydock and Shipbuilding Company of Port Arthur, Ontario
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.967
1951/01/01 to 1951/01/01
1936/01/01 to 1936/01/01
1988/01/01 to 1988/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Developing Economies
- Communications and Transportation
Function - Category and Type
- Historic or Interpretive Site
Architect / Designer
James W. Troup
Western Drydock and Shipbuilding Company
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Penticton Civic File for:1075 & 1081 Lakeshore Drive
Cross-Reference to Collection