Steam-powered travel celebrated

Museums of the South Okanagan will be hosting a huge celebration to recognize the impact steam technology and travel had 100 years ago.

Beginning this month the museums of the South Okanagan will be hosting a huge celebration to recognize the impact steam technology and travel had 100 years ago with the launch of the SS Sicamous sternwheeler and the arrival of the Kettle Valley Railway.

At precisely 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday May 19, 1914, a giant splash greeted the launch of the Okanagan’s steam-driven paddle wheeler, the SS Sicamous.

For the next 23 years, the SS Sicamous connected small communities on Lake Okanagan to the commercial hubs of Vernon, Kelowna, and Penticton. The graceful ship represented a long line of transport vessels that began sailing up and down Okanagan Lake in the 1890s.

On May 31, 1915, KVR Locomotive #4 and three passenger cars arrived at the Penticton Lakeshore Station to officially open the newly completed Kettle Valley Railway.

More than 1,500 people were on hand to greet the start of the age of steam rail travel in the area, and connecting the Okanagan to the outside world.

Steamfest will feature a combination of fun events, amazing exhibits, musical performances, machine demonstrations, and sumptuous culinary celebrations during which the character and history of the South Okanagan will be recognized and remembered. Some of these events include an Open House at the SS Sicamous on Sunday, June 15 that will include fun for the whole family.

This open house includes an opportunity to tour the SS Sicamous for Father’s day with a whole bunch of family-fun activities.

Steam Machines Demo Days will run June 20 to 22 where people will have the opportunity to get a real appreciation for the awesome power of steam as various steam-powered machinery are fired up with boilers hissing and gears grinding.

You’re also invited to dress up and enjoy sophisticated conversation on board the SS Sicamous on Saturday, May 24, between 4 and 7 p.m.

There will be an opportunity to enjoy fine local wine from the Naramata Bench wineries, ale from Cannery Brewing and food prepared by Joy road Catering at this one-of-a-kind event created to celebrate the SS Sicamous’s centennial. Tickets can be purchased online at:

On Saturday, June 7, the Kettle Valley Steam Railway is donating proceeds from their June 7 run to Agur Lake Camp Society.

If you know of an event you feel should be included in the Arts Palette or on the Arts Council’s online calendar, please email or call 250-404-3225.

The Arts Palette is written by David Finnis, publicity chair and president of the Summerland Community Arts Council.