The steam whistle from the SS Bonnington has finally come home.
Shawn Pollard has donated the iconic whistle on behalf of his father, Derek Pollard, to the Nakusp Rail Society (NPR).
The steam-powered sternwheeler was built in a shipyard around Nakusp and was the largest ship to ever sail the Arrow Lakes between 1911 and the early 1930s. The ship also played a critical role in the development of the Arrow Lakes by transporting people, gold, silver and goods to various communities that still weren’t connected by road yet.
In the 1950s, the aging sternwheeler was partially dismantled, and later sank to the bottom of the Arrow Lakes.
Derek, described as a “picker before there were pickers” by his son, managed to acquire the steam whistle and a “Notice to Passengers” artifact displaying the equipment from the famous ship. After Derek’s passing, he asked Shawn to have the artifacts returned to Nakusp.
NPR chairperson Tracy Fetters still recalls the moment she found out the steam whistle would be donated to the society.
“Nakusp residents Andrea and Michael Myhall were down at the Nakusp Visitor’s Centre and ran into Shawn. They got into a conversation and when Shawn mentioned to Andrea about his family’s collection of Canadian Pacific Railway artifacts, she reached out to me and put me in touch with Shawn,” said Fetters.
A small formal event was held at the Nakusp rail site for the hand-over. Photos were taken of Shawn and Derek’s son-in-law, James Ewin, as they proudly held up all of the ship’s memorabilia that had been stored away and forgotten about for so long.
Fetters will now present the artifacts to the Nakusp Archives Centre (NAC) in the hopes they will be permanently displayed.
“Within the space, they have different items of the different steam ships that plied the Arrow Lakes reservoir over the years,” said Pollard.
“It would be rather fitting that it would go in with them.”
The artifacts will be presented on Oct. 4 at the NPR’s annual general meeting.