Greyhound in British Columbia

Kootenay Lake Ferry

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Kootenay Lake Ferry

The Nasookin was fabricated at Port Arthur Ontario and assembled and launched at Nelson in 1913. She served as a connection steamer from Nelson and Proctor to Kootenay Landing. With the completion of the CPR rails on the west side of the Lake between Kootenay Landing and Proctor and the completion of Highway 3 on the east side of the Lake at the end of 1930, the Nasookin in April 1931 started a new life as a Ferry. Space across the bow was made for one truck or one bus. Side loading provided space for 30 cars. Three round trips were operated daily, the Nelson-Creston freight trucks occupied two trips and Greyhound Lines filled the other. Later the Nelson-Creston trucks had vans that could be lowered to fit in the side deck doors. The Nasookin was chartered by the BC Government until February 1933 and then bought from the CPR by the Province. Most of the two top stateroom decks were stripped off as they were no longer needed and this improved the handling of the ship in the usual cross winds. During refit times and in later years when increasing summer traffic demanded, the Moyie was chartered with a transfer barge from the CPR. The Nasookin provided the service until 1947 when she was replaced by the Anscomb. The Nasookin sailed from Fraser's Landing (slightly west of Balfour) to Gray Creek in Crawford Bay on the east side of the Lake. The DPW had extended Highway 3 north from Gray Creek just over 8 miles to Kootenay Bay and a new terminal was built there. They also built a new terminal at Balfour cutting the run from 80 minutes to 40 minutes. The DPW had wanted to build the west side terminal at Queen's Bay, but the crew, who were mostly from Proctor and where the Nasookin had tied up at night objected. Balfour was their choice because it is just a short row to Proctor for commuting and also more sheltered from the weather and flotsam than Queen’s Bay would be. The cross deck loading required a short wheelbase coach and because of a 30 Foot overall length limit in the Fraser Canyon, Motor Coach Industries began building the Courier 100 in 1945 (the 500's), until by 1949 they had built 60 of this model, a 33 passenger coach 29 feet 10 inches long. Beginning in 1947 and to 1950 MCI built 65 Courier 200's, (the 700's), a 33 foot coach, which were not supposed to travel west of Yahk/Kingsgate until the Nasookin was retired and finally the model 85, the 800's, which were the same OAL as the 700's, a 37 passenger bus. The 500's and the 800's were International power, the newer ones Red Diamond 450 cid. The 700's had Continental engines and were disliked by the Nelson drivers. The twelve 600's which had been built in 1941 by MCI and were powered by Hall-Scott pancake engines also came thru the Crow. They were chartered by the Northwest Service Command of the U S Army Corp. of Engineers in 1942 and based out of Dawson Creek until Nov 1944. The 600's seldom came west of Yahk after they returned from Dawson Creek and were replaced a bit early, their service on the Alcan had taken it's toll. Later came the 95's built from 1954 to 1956, same size as the 800's, 37 passenger, but diesel powered. The 96's were next but 35 feet long, 41 passenger and equipped with air ride, the MC One was the next model built in 1959 also 35 feet and 41 passenger. The MC 2 in 1961 and the MC 3 in 1962 the same dimensions as the Ones except washroom equipped and 39 passenger. The MC-1 was a 4-71 Detroit Diesel, the MC 2 and 3's, 6 cyl. Detroit's. When the Anscomb replaced the Nasookin problems soon appeared again. The Anscomb had been built with only eleven foot six inch drive thru height clearance. The original plans had called for 12ft. 6 in. but when assembled in Nelson she was 1 foot short and when larger commercial vehicles appeared in the early fifties, they could only be loaded on the bow and stern, causing big rig drivers to have to back down the ramp at Balfour and if too many to load or if the driver couldn't do it,causing the Captain to have to turn the Anscomb around. This continued until 1959 when the houseworks were raised three feet, causing much celebration by the Nelson drivers who had been delayed many times, the Captains who had to do the extra maneuvers, and most of all, the truck drivers who didn't have to back down the Balfour Dock ever again. Not in our time frame but of interest after the 1972 upgrade, the MOTH lists the Anscomb’s Overhead Clearance as 15 ft. 8in., too bad it wasn’t that dimension originally. In 1954 the MV Balfour was added due to increasing traffic and is still in service during the summer season and when required to replace the Osprey 2000, the ferry that replaced the Anscomb in 2000. Nelson drivers had two other ferries to contend with, a cable ferry on the West Arm in Nelson replaced by the Orange Bridge connection to the North Shore in 1957, and another cable ferry at Castlegar.

The Nasookin is arriving at Gray Creek with a Western Canadian Greyhound 1937 Kenworth, Brassy on the deck by the ladder May 24 1942 or 1945. An article showing the launching of the Kootenay Lake ferry, Anscomb. The Anscomb was built to replace the sternwheeler, Nasookin. Mike Duddy Collection.
Kootenay Lake Ferries, the MV Anscomb taken from the deck of the MV Balfour. This picture shows the MV Anscomb before the houseworks were raised. MV Anscomb taken on Kootenay Lake showing the MV Anscomb after the 4 1/2 foot raising.
Taken on the Anscomb Taken on the Nasookin Brassy Photo, taken on the Anscomb
Taken on the Nasookin Taken on the Nasookin Taken on the Nasookin
George Mermet Coach #W511 taken at Kootenay Bay. The driver is Frank Bach.
Note in the left photo, MV Anscomb can be seen in the background.
"Brassy" on the Nasookin having coffee Brassie sitting on the dock at Fraser’s Landing. Brassy and George Mermet

Here is a picture taken of the official opening of the Nelson Bridge on November 7, 1957. There was a Greyhound agent at the Balfour ferry landing from 1947 to 1963 and apparently this sign was tossed into the lake. At some point a diver found it, or perhps a swimmer and it now hangs in Langs Restaurant on the lake front in Balfour. The owner, Ron Lang evidently thought it was worth hanging up. Its a bit rusty from its years of immersion. Thank you Tom Lymberg and Ron Lang for this photo.

The last trip on the Kootenay Lake Ferry

L.B. "Red" Sutherland

June 23 1930 - October 29, 2017

Laurence Bruce (Red) Sutherland passed away October 29, 2017 in Penticton

A lot has happened in our world since the night of his last trip from Nelson on Run 1476 in October 1963 on the Anscomb and down the Lake on Hwy 3 to Fernie. A group of about 15 people including Tom Lymbery from Gray Creek rode the last trip to mark the end of 32 years of Greyhound service on the Kootenay Lake. Tom asked Red to make an announcement on the Depot P/A and call all the stops on the north shore to Balfour & down the Lake from Kootenay Bay to Creston. The next morning the highway from Nelson to Creston was changed to Hwy 3A and there was no more regular Greyhound bus service on Kootenay Lake. Red returned from Fernie over the Kootenay Pass and Salmo. Earlier in November 1957 Red had driven one of the first buses to cross what is now called “BOB” the big orange bridge in Nelson that crosses the Kootenay River (West Arm) that replaced the Cable Ferry that had operated for 44 years.

Red grew up near Winlaw in the Slocan Valley and during the 1940’s worked on the SS Minto and the Columbia on the Arrow Lakes, dispatched taxis in Nelson and drove for J R Miller.

In the 1950’s Red and his family lived at Retallack while he drove ore truck around the historic Sandon area and logging trucks in the Slocan Valley. During the spring of 1957 Red was hired by Western Canadian Greyhound Lines out of Nelson and he started driving bus for a living. Greyhound was to become his passion. He loved driving the runs out of Nelson especially the Hump and the Fernie run as well. The Nelson drivers worked hard to make their miles and were sad in June 1964 when the Greyhound Nelson Division closed and the drivers had to move to either the Vancouver or Calgary divisions.

When the Nelson Division closed, Red & Min with their two daughters moved to Penticton where he continued to drive bus. He was also very active as the BC Rep for Local 1374 of the ATU.

During the 1970’s Red was promoted to District Manager in Penticton and in 1975 to Regional Manager for British Columbia based in Vancouver. In May 1986 he attended the opening of Phase One of the Coquihalla Highway as the representative of the company. In 1964 Tom Kosiancic had stayed in Nelson for the summer to operate the Nakusp run until Greyhound received permission from the MCC to discontinue the service. Tom was now a Vancouver based driver who drove the first bus over the Coquihalla. Red’s health forced him to retire in 1986 during Expo, a project he was very much involved in.

Red retired back to Penticton where he and his wife Min spent many years traveling in their motorhome, spending time with their family and friends and enjoying their retirement.

L.B. 'Red' Sutherland
Brassy's last trip was Oct. 28 1976, shaking hands with Red Sutherland. Red & Min Sutherland, Chuck and Iris Densmore and Benny Surina at Brassy Ball's Retirement. Red Sutherland
taken in the 1960's

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