Over the last century, no commercial activity in Waterton Lakes National Park has found more favor with visitors than taking a ride on a park tour boat. Literally hundreds of thousands of people have ridden the boats to the head of Upper Waterton Lake or paddled around Cameron Lake in a rental since the services were first offered making this activity the most important in the park story.
The history of these services is the subject of a new book, Steady As She Goes. Written by Chris Morrison, the book is based on more than 25 interviews, archival research in both Canada and the United States and is abundantly illustrated with more than 85 historic photographs many of which have never before been published.
“It’s the story of challenge, ingenuity and achievement on the part of boat operators and has become a tradition for visitors who are treated to magnificent views of the water, valleys as well as authoritative interpretation without ever having to break a sweat,” Morrison says.
Waterton, one of only 12 national parks in Canada to offer commercial boat services, is also one of the oldest to do so. Commercial boats played a pivotal role in serving, attracting and entertaining visitors through nearly all of the 20th century. Today the trip along the seven-mile long Upper Waterton Lake, the deepest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies, holds as much attraction for visitors as it did in 1911, offering an opportunity to be taken by water through a
major mountain-rimmed valley where wildlife abounds. At Cameron Lake, row boats, canoes, kayaks and paddle boats can be rented to experience the slower paced delights of a high altitude lake.
From the building of the magnificent 73-foot long Motor Vessel International to the operator who named his youngest daughter after his boat, from construction of a chalet at the head of the lake to serve as a destination, long since gone but still remembered, to the fire fighting assistance of two boatmen in 1935, and the adventures of boat captains who experienced one-of-a-kind events, this book provides a unique look into the past.
The book is $16.95 and is available at the Galt Museum and Archives Gift Shop in Lethbridge now and will be available this summer at gift shops in the Waterton townsite.