In areas of British Columbia and Alberta not yet accessed by road or rail, boats were the primary form of transportation for large amounts of freight or passengers since the days of the fur trade. Many large rivers and lakes in Western Canada were traversed by steamships, from the 1860s, and in some cases, into the mid-20th century.
With their shallow draughts and paddles that could function in a few inches of water, paddlewheelers could travel in shallow rivers and access settlements without proper docks. The S.S. Moyie, built in 1898, was originally intended to ferry miners to the Klondike gold rush, instead the Canadian Pacific Railway put her to use on Kootenay Lake to ferry passengers from its rail terminal at Kootenay Landing to Nelson, B.C. She was named Moyie after a prosperous mining community in the region, which in turn got its name from the French word for wet, mouillé.
With a 4½-hour travel time across the lake, the S.S. Moyie was gradually replaced and demoted over the next 40 years. In 1957, she was North America's oldest sternwheeler still in service, and was retired and sold to the city of Kaslo, B.C., where she was made into a museum. In 1965, Heritage Park commissioned the building of a half-size replica of the S.S. Moyie, which uses a diesel engine.