Chains on the tires are required when one takes the shortcut to Naramata on frozen Okanagan Lake. In the early 20th century, the lake would sometimes freeze over in the winter. However, it has been many decades since the lake last froze over. At times there has been ice near the shore, allowing for some skating on the frozen surface. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)

Chains on the tires are required when one takes the shortcut to Naramata on frozen Okanagan Lake. In the early 20th century, the lake would sometimes freeze over in the winter. However, it has been many decades since the lake last froze over. At times there has been ice near the shore, allowing for some skating on the frozen surface. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)

Boats and cars have been seen on Okanagan Lake

Lake used to freeze over during the winter

Okanagan Lake was once the main transportation corridor in the Okanagan Valley, but travel on the lake was usually done by boat and not by car.

However, there have been some years in the 20th century when the lake would freeze over, allowing motorists to drive cars across the lake.

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The Summerland Museum has pictures of motorists on the lake during the early 20th century. It has been more than half a century since the lake froze over to allow motorists to drive on the frozen lake.

More commonly, ice has formed at the shore of Okanagan Lake, allowing for skating in areas more often used for swimming in the summer months.

The boating history in Summerland and the surrounding area dates to the late 1800s.

In 1883, Capt. Thomas Dolman Shorts arrived in the Okanagan Valley and during his time in the area, he built and operated several of the boats that plied the lake. He was the captain of the Mary Victoria Greenhow, the first commercial boat on the lake.

In 1893, the Canadian Pacific Railway launched the Aberdeen, the first sternwheeler to operate on Okanagan Lake. This vessel was dismantled in 1913 at Okanagan Landing.

The last sternwheeler, the Sicamous, was taken out of service in 1935 as the automobile had taken over as the primary means of transportation in the area.

The captain of the Sicamous, Joe Weeks, arrived in Canada in 1893 when he was 15. He captained ships in the area from 1904 to 1935 and logged more than 3.2 million kilometres.

After the Sicamous was taken out of service, Weeks worked on tow boats until he retired in 1942.

Today, the Sicamous is in place at the shore of Okanagan Lake in Penticton.

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