Steamfest Regatta & Antique Boat Show

The SteamFest Regatta and Antique Boat Show will pay tribute to the Aquatic Days of the early 1900s.

The weekend will be full of events highlighting and fundraising for the restoration of 4 of Penticton's original War Canoes. The main event will be the war canoe races but the weekend will also consist of an antique boat show, kayak, canoe, outrigger and dragonboat races, a “unique” bathing suit competition, decorated boat competition and tub racing. In addition, the Okanagan Antique and Classic Boat Society will be featuring a fleet of restored motor craft at the Lakeside Hotel marina; all of which were lovingly restored by members of the Society.

“The history of water sports on Okanagan Lake stretches back over a century, and having access to these amazing racing canoes from the past provides a perfect opportunity to revive those rich traditions," says Peter Ord, Penticton Museum & Archives curator and canoe restoration project lead.

Though Steamfest will obviously only be celebrating 100 years of Steam for one year; The Steamfest Regatta and Antique Boat Show will be an annual event. Organizers are looking forward to growing the event and increasing awareness of the paddling community in Penticton.

“I am very excited to be involved in this new event," says Lyndie Hill of Hoodoo Adventures, who is coordinating the event on behalf of the Penticton Museum and the SS Sicamous Society. “It is a real celebration of the sport of paddling which is growing at an outstanding rate in the area. It is also an amazing way to bring all the different paddling communities and families together for a common goal of highlighting the aquatic gems that we have here in Penticton”

For Canadians, nothing is more iconic than the canoe. From the large solid cedar canoes of BC coastal First Nations, to the York boats of early Hudson Bay traders, canoes have been an integral part of Canada's history and identity. The War Canoe plays an important part of this tradition as it represents a hybrid of both the sea-faring cedar canoe of BC and the early wood strip canoe of Eastern Canada. From the early 1900's, boating clubs throughout Canada featured war canoe regattas during the summer, when up to 15 person crews paddled in each 30 foot canoe for a distance of about 1 kilometre.

On Okanagan Lake, the golden age of War Canoe regattas went from 1905 to 1914 as lakeside communities like Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland and Penticton assembled male and female crews to compete for the coveted Robinson Cup. With the onset of World War I, the regattas took a brief hiatus as men went off to fight in Europe. War canoe racing continued once the troops returned, but for brief periods and only sporadically over the next 8 decades up to 2000, when 4 surviving canoes were paraded as part of Peachland's millennial celebrations.

In 2010, the Penticton Museum was given the opportunity to collect and restore these 4 war canoes, which were in various states of disrepair. With strong community interest and support from the local paddling community, the museum decided to pursue a plan to not only restore the canoes to their original form, but to bring back the glorious races from the past.

For Jim Cooper, chair of the SS Sicamous Society and a member of the Okanagan Antique and Classic Boat Society “We are thrilled that the war canoes are being restored as they represent a special era in local boating and especially ‘wooden' boating, traditions we hope will return in force to the Okanagan!”

For more information and to sign up for the STEAMFEST Regatta you can visit www.steamfest.com