SS Naramata

SS Naramata

SS Naramata


She served the Okanagan for over 50 years and is now one of the last surviving steam tugboats (not in service) in British Columbia (along with the SS Master in Vancouver). The SS Naramata, one of the hardest day-to-day workers of her time, now sits on the shores of Okanagan Lake in Penticton with the S.S. Sicamous Restoration Society, who over the last several years have been slowly restoring this beauty of a ship. This vessel is an exceptional piece of BC’s maritime history.


The Ontario shipbuilder, Western Dry Dock and Ship Building Corp., prefabricated the steel hull, engines and the boiler. Once the pieces were completed they were then shipped, by rail, to the Okanagan of British Columbia and the owners, the Canadian Pacific Railway.


Once her parts arrived at Okanagan Landing, at the CPR rail station, she was completed.   The Naramata was launched on the lake in April of 1914 where she remained the most modern tug until 1947. She served the communities surrounding Okanagan Lake until 1967 when she was decommissioned.


The SS Naramata was, in her time, one of the largest tugs working in BC. She measured just fewer than 30 metres long and had a breadth measurement of just over 6 metres and had an approximate weight of 74 tons. The engines provided up to 150 hp with an average towing speed of approximately 11 km per hour. Though she had a capacity to hold up to 20 passengers, the Naramata was almost solely used in the CPR’s barge service, as she remained one of the most reliable vessels in service.


One of the main jobs the Naramata was involved in was moving a barge loaded with the local fruits from the many packing houses along the lake to the railway at Okanagan Landing. Speed and quality of service were an important factor that the Naramata never failed at. She consistently did her job by pushing two barges tied to her bow forming a v shape. With this positioning the Naramata effectively moved the barges across the water.


The work of the tugboat is easily considered very unspectacular, but in truth it is an essential worker in BC waters. At the time of her service, the SS Naramata was a definite asset to the communities of the Okanagan. She provided the vital connection between the orchard communities of the BC Interior and the rest of the province with her help in moving the local produce to the railway lines. This link proved invaluable until more modern vehicles were introduced and agriculture industries changed the ways of the industry.


She most recently found her home with the SS Sicamous Restoration Society and in 1991 was towed to sit beside the SS Sicamous, a famous steamship that travelled across the Okanagan Lake as well. She was cleaned and sat waiting for restoration. In 1993 she was she was dry-docked and had her hull reinforced as years of wear from sulphur and coal made her very thin. In the spring of 2003, her unstable deck railing was repaired and summer 2003 saw her open to the public for viewing.


Written by KE Heaton