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Fifty years of the Fintry Queen

Former car ferry was turned into a faux stern-wheeler and renamed in 1968
Andy Schwab, owner of the Fintry Queen, with the document marking the renaming of the former car ferry the M.V. Lequime as the M.V. Fintry in 1968. —Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

The Fintry Queen is 50 years old today.

On Aug. 31st, 1968, the M.V. Lequime, one of three former car ferries that crossed Okanagan Lake from the Westside to Kelowna after completion of the first Okanagan Lake Floating Bridge in 1958 , was re-christened the M.V. Fintry by prominent business and community leader “Cap” Capozzi on the shores of Kelowna’s downtown Kerry Park.

“It is with the greatest of pleasure that I accept the honor of christening the M.V. Fintry on this 31 day of August, 1968,” said Capozi at the time.

“The M.V. Fintry, a replica of the old stern-wheeler is a great step in reviving the history of the proud old paddlewheelers that plied the waters of the Okanagan from 1886 to 1936, when the Sicamous made her last official voyage. The M.V. Fintry brings to the Okanagan a long needed tourist attraction that enables the visitor to view the beautiful shoreline of the Okanagan Lake … may God bless her captain, passengers and crew with a successful and safe voyage into the future.”

The Fintry Queen, as she is referred to today, was an Okanagan Lake icon for many years, serving as a popular tourist attraction operating from off Kelowna’s downtown lakeshore, carrying more than 30,000 passengers annually for more than 40 years. But with the construction of the Downtown Pier in 2012, and the ship was deemed yesterday’s boat and was forced to move on after sitting idle in dock for several years. After being forced out, it sat moored in Sutherland Bay off the city’s North End for a few years but was eventuallyforced to leave there too.

Related: Owner of Fintry Queen eyes Summerland as moorage site

The ship is currently anchored near the north end of Okanagan Lake, awaiting the next chapter of her life.

According to current owner Andy Schwab, the hope is to eventually dock it on Penticton’s foreshore and operate it at the south end of the lake, connecting Penticton, Naramata and Summerland.

“Our vision is to provide a transportation link between the communities of Penticton, Naramata and Summerland, to access the parks, wineries and resorts situated along the shoreline as these great ships once did over a century ago, while celebrating Okanagan wines and foods,” said Schwab.

He said he is has put together a group that will fund the $250,000 needed to re-certify the boat for service and plans to raise another $250,000 to pay for the new docking infrastructure.

“We’ll be looking for matching funds or value added partners to assist with the new dock and public infrastructure that will be required to set-up operations in the South Okanagan.”

The Fintry Queen is more than 150 feet long and is the largest ship currently on Okanagan Lake. It can carry up to 325 passengers, has sheltered and outdoor decks, a full service galley, lounge, dining room and a dance floor. It has heating and air conditioning systems to enable operations during summer and winter in all weather conditions.

Initially designed as a car ferry, her hull is shaped to get close to shore, where she can use her bow boarding ramps.

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