Chilcotin (sternwheeler)

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Chilcotin at South Fort George.jpg
Chilcotin at South Fort George 1914
Career (Canada) Flag of Canada-1868-Red
Name: Chilcotin
Laid down: 1910 in Soda Creek, British Columbia
Launched: July 20, 1910 at Soda Creek
In service: 1910-1914
Fate: retired 1914
Notes: Captain DA Foster
General characteristics
Length: 134.5 ft (41.0 m)
Beam: 23.5 ft (7.2 m)
Notes: No.126945

The Chilcotin sternwheeler was built for the Soda Creek to Fort George route of the upper Fraser River. She was built by shipbuilder Donald McPhee for the Fort George Lumber and Navigation Company, which was a partnership held by Nick Clarke and Russell Peden of the South Fort George town-site of Fort George. The Chilcotin was the largest of the company’s three sternwheelers and was intended to run as competition against the BC Express Company’s new luxury sternwheeler, the BX. The Chilcotin had main, promenade and Texas decks, hot and cold running water and stateroom accommodation for fifty. She was built at Soda Creek in the winter of 1909 and ’10, just down from where the BC Express Company happened to be building the BX. A friendly rivalry quickly developed between the two construction camps and as soon as the Chilcotin’s builders learned that the BX was going to be five feet wider than the Chilcotin, they teased the workers from the other camp, saying that the BX would never fit through the narrow channels of the Cottonwood and Fort George canyons and called her the "White Elephant". This rumor spread far past the town of Soda Creek and soon the employees of the BC Express Company found themselves being consoled by their friends and associates for "having built a dud".[1] Unfortunately, (for the owners of the Chilcotin anyway), the BX proved to be a far superior craft and the Chilcotin, was never much competition to her.[2]

Chilcotin and Fort Fraser at South Fort George

The Chilcotin was launched on July 20, 1910 and was put under the command of Captain AF Doherty. She made her first trip up to Fort George that August, but on the return trip to Soda Creek, she had an accident in the Fort George Canyon and had to be taken back to South Fort George, where she was left for the rest of the season.[3]

In 1911, the Chilcotin was overhauled and put under the command of DA Foster, who was also the captain of the Quesnel. That season she would make several trips up the Fraser to Giscome Portage and the Grand Canyon of the Fraser as well as working on the Soda Creek to Fort George route. However, unlike the BX which could run this route on a twice-weekly basis, the Chilcotin could only advertise a weekly service.[3] The Chilcotin worked on the upper Fraser until 1914, when, with the depressed economic conditions caused by World War I and the halting of the construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway, her owners decided to retire her.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Downs, Art (1971). Paddlewheels on the Frontier Volume 1. Foremost Publishing. ISBN 0-88826-033-4. 
  • West, Willis (1985). Stagecoach and Sternwheel Days in the Cariboo and Central BC. Heritage House. ISBN 0-919214-68-1. 
  • West, Willis (1949). The BX and the Rush to Fort George. British Columbia Historical Quarterly. 

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ West, Willis (1985). Stagecoach and Sternwheel Days in the Cariboo and Central BC. Heritage House. p. 43. ISBN 0-919214-68-1. 
  2. ^ West, Willis (1949). The BX and the Rush to Fort George. British Columbia Historical Quarterly. pp. 151, 152. 
  3. ^ a b Downs, Art (1971). Paddlewheels on the Frontier Volume 1. Foremost Publishing. p. 53. ISBN 0-88826-033-4.